Thursday, December 18, 2014

Errors in Avicii's Vicinity

Stop the music! This photo caption could use some EMT-like treatment. It has suffered a couple of ill-timed maladies.

Something’s missing on the 11th line. A t goes before –goers. It comes before g, the way harp music and a wavy dissolve come before a dream sequence in old sitcoms. Alas, like an understated performance at a KISS concert, it can’t be found. Why did it end up on the cutting room floor?

Speaking of floors…

Avicii, we’re informed, performed for a sold-out floor. Strange. Does a floor have ears? Can it appreciate music, Swedish electronic or otherwise? And, perhaps most important, are the acoustics better if a musician performs for walls and a ceiling too? The arena’s floor seats may have sold out, but the show was performed in front of a sold-out crowd.

I’m floored that the writer and the editor — working in concert, I imagine — failed to spot these two recording errors. It should have been easy. Much easier than, say, getting certain songs out of your head.

Don’t tell my heart, my achy breaky heart
I just don’t think he’d understand
And if you tell my heart, my achy breaky heart
He might blow up and kill this man

By now, the earworm has burrowed deep into the crevices of your brain, probably somewhere in the right frontal lobe. You’re welcome, readers.

Monday, December 15, 2014


Behold! You’ve never seen the likes of this before. A portion of this sentence, split between columns in an old Sports Illustrated article, is reminiscent of middle school kids attempting to calculate — the way only middle school kids can — the level of ardor a classmate has for a friend. So, do you like him, or do you like like him? On the inexact scale of affection, “like like” sits between like and love and is akin to a crush. This slangy doubling down, so to speak, is a form of reduplication. A word is purposefully repeated, and the first occurrence is emphasized as a way to indicate a “true” sense of the word and resolve any ambiguity.

This device is more popular than you may realize. It’s been employed, for example, in scenes from a couple of popular sitcoms. In “The Doodle,” an episode from Seinfeld’s sixth season, George is dating Paula, a woman in Elaine’s drawing class at The New School. He finds a doodle Paula did of him in which he “looks like a troll.” This worries George, so he asks Elaine to play the part of inquisitive schoolgirl and find out, at her next drawing class, if Paula likes him.

Elaine: Hey, Paula, I hear you’ve been going out with George Costanza.

Paula: How did you know?

Elaine: Everybody knows. You know, George told me he thinks you’re totally cute and everything.

Paula: He said that?

Elaine [nodding]: Do you like George?

Paula: Yeah! He’s cool.

Elaine: No, I mean … do you like him, or do you like him like him?

Paula: Like like. Looks aren’t that important to me, you know?

In a 2008 episode of The Big Bang Theory called “The Lizard-Spock Expansion,” Leonard dates Stephanie, a girl his pal Howard picked up in a bar by telling her he could sneak her into the Mars Rover control room and she could operate the $200 million government project. When Leonard, an experimental physicist, runs into his neighbor Penny in the apartment building’s laundry room, their conversation goes like this:

Penny: Oh, hey.

Leonard: Hey.

Penny: New shirts?

Leonard: Yeah, a couple.

Penny: Nice.

Leonard:  Thank you.

Penny: So, who’s the girl?

Leonard: I’m sorry?

Penny: Well, last time you bought a new shirt was when we were dating.

Leonard: So, uh, what we did was in fact dating?

Penny: Well, yeah, we did have a date.

Leonard: Exactly. Thank you. Do me a favor: Tell Koothrappali that next time you see him.

Penny: So, who is she?

Leonard: Oh, she’s a doctor.

Penny: Oh, nice. A doctor doctor, or a you kind of doctor?

Leonard: Doctor doctor. Surgical resident. Smart, pretty.

The linguistic use of stressed repetition isn’t confined to sitcoms, of course. The punch line of a 2007 Zits comic also was, ahem, down with reduplication.


In 2009, shortly after Roman Polanski was arrested in Switzerland at the request of U.S. authorities, Whoopi Goldberg created a maelstrom when she resorted to reduplication on The View while trying to characterize what the film director did to a 13-year-old girl in 1977. “I don’t believe it was rape rape,” she said.

Here are some other, less incendiary examples:

Are you going to read an e-book or a book book?

We’re taking that thing out on the water? When I agreed to go sailing, I thought we’d be on a boat boat.

 Let’s go out for dinner.
OK, how about McDonald’s?
No, I want to go to a restaurant restaurant.

 I’m a writer.
Nice. How many books have you had published?
None. I write blog posts.
Oh, so you’re not a writer writer.

 Ouch! I scratched my knee.
Oh, suck it up! You didn’t get hurt hurt.

 It was just a couple of friends having dinner together. It wasn’t a date date.

 He kissed you? Was it a peck on the cheek or a kiss kiss?

I hope you enjoyed today’s post. If you disliked it, I understand, but if you disliked disliked it, I don’t want to know.

Thursday, December 11, 2014


“She she”?


Hey! This is no laughing matter! Only one woman can stay in this relationship. She needs to leave. Take her away. Protests be damned, I cannot recognize this particular same-sex marriage. Who’s with me? Who else would like to see she go sell seashells by the seashore? She loves me, but I love she not.

“She she”?