College senior Harrison Demchick has become something of a legend in the
Review family as a meticulous and loveable copy editor. At the end of
this semester, he will graduate and move on to greater things. This week,
commentary editor Casey Ashenhurst and news editor Emma Dumain sat down to find
out who the real Demchick is.
What first sparked your interest in the field of
It’s just a freakish natural gift, and it’s not as
if it’s a particular goal of mine, but when I see errors they jump out at
me. I’m something of a grammar nut. I enjoy it for some perverse reason I
don’t entirely understand.
What made you first want to write your column “Copy Editors Have
It was at the very end of the first year I started
working at the Review, after a whole year of reading the stupid, stupid
letters to the editor. I compiled a list of ten opinions [about] what people had
been writing all year — essentially a Readers’ Digest version
of what had been written about. I made fun of people not being able to get over
Bush’s victory in 2000, and I wrote my opinion about abortion and the
You’ve worked here for three and a half years and you don’t
get paid. Why is that?
My first year, I went to wherever you have to go to
fill out the paperwork, and they needed my social security card, but it’s
in a safety deposit box somewhere and I never got around to taking it out.
What’s this rumor about you having been fired, then rehired?
was fired in the first place because I’d been making comments in the
margins on the section editors’ pages, like “cut it out” if I
caught the same mistake over and over again. During one of the Review
staff meetings, Douglass Dowty [former editor-in-chief] said that these comments
should stop being made, so I stopped. A week later, he fired me. He had no
grounds for it though. For the week I wasn’t working at the Review,
I made a chart that broke down all the errors by page and section of one issue.
I appealed to Eric Klopfer [current news clerk and then production manager] and
he hired me back. There was also a longstanding conflict with the arts section.
Do you have a favorite section to edit?
The news section, because I
find the subjects more interesting. I’ve come to enjoy the sports and arts
sections a lot more because they’ve improved dramatically. The arts
editors working under Douglass were not competent.
What is your favorite form of punctuation?
I like the semicolon, because nobody uses it properly, but I use it properly.
If they don’t use it properly, I have to get rid of it. It has to go. I
don’t think there’s any favorite thing to catch. I like being able
to catch italicized commas. Italicized periods are more difficult.
You love Billy Joel, but on Friday mornings when we play music, we never
play it. Does it upset you?
I have a Catch-22 there. There’s nothing
I’d like more than to listen to nothing but Billy Joel, but then I know
I’d be distracted and not get any work done.
What about your own music? We’ve played your stuff on Friday
I write intelligent pop-rock using MIDI. Billy Joel is the
influence first and foremost; he has really interesting and mostle insightful
lyrics. Neal Finn, Crowded House, Elton John, Phil Collins and Genesis are other
You’re graduating in about a week. What are your future
I’ll start my job in late January as a screenwriter for a small
publishing house based near Baltimore called Bancroft Press. I’ll be going
to L.A. to pitch screenplays and write adaptations of Bancroft Press properties.
I’ve already adapted seven Bancroft Press books over the summer.
I’m also writing a series of interconnected short stories that
I’ve been working on all year, but I really want to be a comic book
writer. I have over 2200 comics in my collection. I’ve been collecting
them since I was in sixth grade when I got a subscription as a birthday present
from a friend. I really want to write Spider-Man comic books — I have a
lot of ideas.
“Some puppies just need to be kicked.”
That’s just my personal quote.