As he doubtless expected

Contrary to multiple acquaintances’ declarations that I would encounter “some real weirdos” on the train, the first person I met on board my first sleeper car after boarding the train in Penn Station was a man in a sparkly cardigan and leather pants who breezily identified himself as “a prophet,” which is perhaps the world’s second-oldest profession. And forgive me if I find nothing “weird” about being gainfully employed under a supervisor with the kind of multinational name recognition God has.

As he doubtless expected, the prophet and I were in opposite Viewliner roomettes — private compartments Amtrak describes as “designed for one or two passengers,” although a roomette is both narrower and shorter than a standard porta potty.

There Is No Reason To Cross America By Train — But I Did It Anyway – New York Times

Banned words: iconic

When I was head of editorial at, I added a banned words list to the website and blog writing guidelines. Because when you describe every destination in the world as ‘unique’ and ‘off the beaten track’, you’re not really describing anything at all.

So I was pretty pleased to see someone tweeting an excerpt from the Guardian’s style guide, where they’ve got a similarly no-bullshit approach to the word ‘iconic’.