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What has Ben Affleck got above his fireplace?

I pay no more attention to the Academy Awards than to the Miss America pageant and other reality shows, but the heavy-breathing coverage of the Academy Awards sometimes sparks a faint interest.

This from Slate:

Now that Ben Affleck’s Iran hostage drama Argo has garnered seven Oscar nominations to add to its mantle, upon which already sit $110 million in domestic box office, near unanimous acclaim from critics, and even a whisper campaign for Affleck to run for John Kerry’s soon-to-be vacated Senate seat, it needs to be said: Argo is a fraud.

That's as it may be. Haven't seen it and am agnostic about it. But you will perhaps have noticed that the nomination, the box office receipts, the critical acclaim, and the whispering campaign rest not on the shelf above Mr. Affleck's fireplace but on his cloak.

Whether mantle for mantel is a marker of ignorance or a mere typo or spelling error cannot be determined from context. But it is an elementary error in the opening paragraph, which is supposed, in standard journalistic practice, to get particular attention.

Of course, even if Slate had the correct word in the lead, it would still be burdened with that overstuffed sentence. I don't know what bibelots may rest on Mr. Affleck's mantle, but inviting us to envision seven nominations, domestic box office receipts, critics' acclaim, and a whispering campaign (all those murmurers perched above the fireplace?) lacks the concreteness that makes an effective metaphor.

It would have been a more effective opening, with the buildup crashing down on fraud, if the writer had omitted the fireplace altogether.

 

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