Thursday, February 26, 2015

Coming Apart at the "Seems"

Seems out of place. Excuse me. That should read, “Seems is out of place.” You see, sometimes the word is should follow the word seems. Sometimes, it shouldn’t.

This is one of those times when it shouldn’t.

The sentence pictured above contains more words than it can support. In other words, it’s bursting at the seams.

Is seems extraneous, or seems is unnecessary.

It seems we have one word too many. So, let’s try it sans seems:

Four wins in four days at the 2013 Big East tournament is far-fetched, but you can’t rule anything out with this group.

Seems fine.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Blame Jerry

As Pawnee, Indiana, TV journalist Perd Hapley might say, in his totally tautology way, I love Parks and Recreation, a show that is dear to my heart. I’ve been a fan of the NBC sitcom since seeing a trailer weeks before the show premiered in the spring of 2009. When I heard Pawnee Parks and Recreation Department director Ron Swanson say, “I hate the public — the public is stupid,” I was hooked. I’ve devoured every episode since, each as tasty and comfortable as the waffles at JJ’s Diner. How often does one find a connection with not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, but six characters from a single show? Like Leslie Knope, I excel at gift giving. Like Ron, I’m a private person always hankering for a great steak. Like April Ludgate, I’m a dry, sarcastic animal lover. Like Andy Dwyer, I once performed with the band Mouse Rat. Like Ben Wyatt, I have my share of geeky interests. And like Jerry/Larry/Terry/Garry Gergich, I’m kind but awkward. (OK, one of those six is a lie.)

I planned on the show litch-rally lasting as long as health-conscious Chris Traeger (i.e., 150 years). Alas, that is not to be. Come tomorrow, it’ll be gone, like Li’l Sebastian, and I’ll have a pit-sized hole to fill in my TV viewing schedule. I hate to see Parks and Recreation go, though I’m thankful it lasted longer than Rent-a-Swag and Entertainment 720.

The seventh and final season has jumped ahead to 2017, to a world that is recognizable — with some twists. Elton John owns Chick-fil-A. Shia LaBeouf designs wedding dresses. Tablets are transparent and can be folded and even converted into skateboards … assuming you’ve worked out all the evil AI software bugs. Morgan Freeman and Shailene Woodley are feuding. Kevin James is the new Jason Bourne. The Hitch sequel is out; its full title is Hitch 2: Son of a Hitch. LeBron James is playing in Miami — again. Oh, and perhaps craziest of all, the Cubs are World Series champions, ending the long suffering in the Windy City. As Chicago native Lucy told Andy and Tom Haverford in a recent episode as they strolled outside of Wrigley Field: “Yeah, I think you’re really going to like it here. And obviously everyone’s in a really great mood now because of the Cubs winning the Series.”

It’s not the first time the Cubs have won in “reel” life.

In 1993, a 12-year-old boy led them to victory. (See: Rookie of the Year). According to Revolution, a defunct NBC show set 15 years in the future, in a world without electricity, the Cubs won again in 2012. (In a May 2012 trailer for the series, the marquee outside an abandoned, dilapidated Wrigley read “2012 WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS.” Interestingly, when the series premiered in September of that year, the message had been digitally removed.) And as every Back to the Future Part II fan knows, the Cubs will win it all this year, sweeping Miami in five games. As the holographic Hill Valley billboard read: WAY TO GO CUBBIES!

Perhaps Cubs fans can take some solace in their multiple on-screen championships, because the real team’s extended futility is, ahem, more than one can bear.

It’s been a l-o-n-g time since the Cubs won the World Series. Longer even than the Hypable blurb above will have you believe. Mark Twain could have written about the team's last championship; he was alive at the time. The Cubs last won it all in 1908. Chicago was in the World Series in 1918, but it lost to the Red Sox, a team that would wait 86 years before winning another title. The Cubs are still waiting. Even Chris Traeger would find it difficult to put a positive spin on such a lengthy drought.

If the Cubs — the real Cubs — do win the World Series in 2015, it will be 5,000 times better than Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind,” which reminds me...

♫ Bye-bye, Parks and Recreation. Miss you in the saddest fashion. ♫

Thursday, February 19, 2015


The stickers below are whimsical examples of a spoonerism, which is the transposition of initial letters or syllables of two words, usually by accident. The swap, often made when one talks too fast, creates a new, sometimes humorous phrase. A crushing blow becomes a blushing crow, a pack of lies becomes a lack of pies, lighting a fire becomes fighting a liar and a ducking fork becomes a … well, never mind. As comedian George Carlin once said: Don’t sweat the petty things, and don’t pet the sweaty things.


This transposition is named after William A. Spooner, a clergyman and warden at the University of Oxford in the early 20th century. Spooner purportedly made such verbal slips often, so the attribution stuck. When toasting Queen Victoria, Britain’s dear old queen from 1837 to 1901, he may or may not have said: Three cheers for our queer old dean.

A sticker, regardless of its cuteness and cleverness, is only as tasty as its weakest ingredient, as poetic as its worst verse. So, when said sticker contains a misspelled word, it’s comparable to a bad salad … or a sad ballad.

On these stickers, one of the words has been dis- assembled. Take it apart. Dismember that dis- member. (Why did dis- appear? It needs to vanish.) Replace it with dys-, a prefix meaning difficult or abnormal or bad.

People prone to spoonerisms may suffer from dyslexia, a learning disability characterized by difficulty reading, and people with dyslexia are dyslexics.  If you dis- that word, I must dis your dysfunctional sticker. The message it contains is important, but spelling is tivotal poo.

Have I not spoon-fed you enough material on spoonerisms? Hungry for more? I have three honest-to-goodness suggestions. 1. Head to North Carolina and attend the annual Apple Chill festival in Chapel Hill. 2. Stop at Affy Tapple in Niles, Illinois, for a sweet treat. 3. Read Shel Silverstein’s Runny Babbit: A Billy Sook.

Whatever you do, do not get spoonerism-happy around anyone named Kerry Hunt. You’ve been warned.

Jessica De Sousa Costa