Thursday, December 29, 2011

That's a Lovely Red Gown

Access Hollywood posted a short video of Jennifer Lopez speaking with a reporter after an October concert in Connecticut. In the video, J.Lo mentioned that she's grown as a performer since being on American Idol. Perhaps she didn't enunciate, because the Access Hollywood headline, which included a direct quote from Lopez, replaced grown with gown. Groan.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

People, Places and (Wrong) Things

My good friend Lindsay, of IAMNOTASTALKER, sent me a link to this "City Traveler" blog (from CityPASS) because she spotted a major fact error. While reading the article, about the top cities in which to set a holiday movie, I spotted an additional fact error. Allow me to share them both.

Why, at the end of the first paragraph, are we asked if Home Alone would be different if it were set in Alton, Ill., instead of New York City? Home Alone was not set in the Big Apple. It was set much closer to Alton, actually, because it's supposed to unfold in a Chicago suburb. The Home Alone sequel was set in NYC, which is why its full title is Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.

After mentioning Chicago and New York City, CityPASS heads west to discuss one of my favorite places, San Francisco. Four Christmases was indeed set in the City by the Bay, but, oops, it did not star Jennifer Aniston. The leading lady in that 2008 film was Reese Witherspoon. Witherspoon played Aniston's younger sister on a couple of episodes of Friends — and the two are friends in real life — but that's about as close as these actresses come to being one in the same. It seems you'd have to be as bumbling as the crooks from the first two Home Alone films to mix up two of Hollywood's biggest stars.

You have MovieFAILED, CityPASS.

In this Getty Images photo, that's Reese
on the left and Jennifer on the right.
See, they are not the same person.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Mass-Produced Holiday

In the back of my parents' garage, it's beginning to look a lot like what? Most folks who celebrate Christmas have boxes of Xmas lights. Not my parents.

Do you see what I see?
A box, a box
Lying in my sight
With a mistake as big as a kite
With a mistake as big as a kite

As you can see, my parents have X-mass lights. Yikes.

The abbreviated Xmas is an informal term for Christmas. It's assimilated into the English language to the extent that it even appears in the Oxford English and Merriam-Webster's dictionaries. As the dictionaries explain, the X is the symbol for Christ, from the Greek letter chi (X), initial of Christos Christ.

Use an X for Christ, add the last three letters from Christmas and, voila, you've got Xmas. What you don't want to do is include an additional s. The shorthand term has nothing to do with mass, the (often-capitalized) religious service.

It's time for my parents to get rid of the box. Let it go! Let it go! Let it go! Perhaps it can be used for storage on the Island of Misfit Toys.

Mele Kalikimaka to all my readers!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

An Illuminating Experience

We all have our holiday traditions. One of my favorites is driving around local Connecticut neighborhoods with my good friend Abby to check out Christmas lights. During our annual December drive, we come across a variety of displays. Some houses are lighted and trimmed in a way that would make Clark W. Griswold proud; others look like the family pet did the decorating. Some houses are awe-inspiring; others are awful. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course. In a sense, holiday displays are works of art, and, for one day, Abby and I are art critics. It's exhausting work. Builds up quite an appetite, too, which is why we pick up food — pizza and, because Abby admirably attempts to get more veggies into my life, salad in 2011 — after our holly, jolly drive-bys and head back to Abby's house to relax and watch a movie. This year we saw The Debt, starring Helen Mirren. We both give it a thumbs-up, though the end left us wanting a bit more. Turns out we're art critics and movie critics.

Before we settled on The Debt and settled in for a long winter's movie night (113 minutes, to be exact), a channel-surfing Abby spotted the squirrelly material seen here. She almost choked on her garden salad trying to notify me of the misspelling. Thanks, Abby, for finding an error — and for not choking.

Art critics. Movie critics. Writing critics. It's a triumphant holiday triumvirate!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Not Now, Leia, I'm Busy

Yesterday, my family did some holiday shopping at an open-air market in midtown Manhattan known as "The Holiday Shops at Bryant Park," which the official Bryant Park website describes as "custom-designed jewel box kiosks." My mom searched for her standard items: hats, jewelry, ornaments and the like. My brother kept an eye out for food and drink. I, of course, was on the lookout for typos. I am happy to report that all members of our traveling party found what they were looking for.

While standing near the kiosk for Scent in a Basket, which sells handcrafted decorative soaps, and doing my best to stay warm (temps in the low 30s), I spotted this sign. When I pointed out the top line on the chalkboard to my brother, he joked, "Are you going to write about how the soaps are crafted by Han Solo?" Why yes, Bro, I am.

Spelled with a d, as the red sign at the top shows, handcrafted means crafted, or made, by hand. Take away the d, however, and we can justifiably come to the conclusion that Han fashioned the items when he wasn't busy piloting the Millennium Falcon or battling the Empire.

May the d be with you the next time you put chalk to board at your custom-designed jewel box kiosk, Scent in a Basket.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Nothing to Write Holmes About

Today's error is elementary, my dear readers.

About five minutes into the 2009 movie Sherlock Holmes, after Holmes and Watson have foiled a murder by Lord Blackwood, a photographer takes a photo to capture the moment, and the photo segues into the front page of a newspaper called The Penny Illustrated Paper.


How did Scotland Yard manage to do so? Well, check out the deck. "Sherlock Holmes Aides Police," we are informed.


Aids police is more like it. An aide (noun) aids (verb) others. Had the writer at The Penny Illustrated Paper done just a wee bit of detective work, he would have discovered this.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Where Did U Go?

Looking for a college for your son or daughter? You may want to consider Purdue University, which came in at No. 96 on Forbes' list of "The Top 100 Best Buy Colleges."

The university, located in West Lafayette, Indiana, is renowned for its aerospace engineering program. It does not, however, offer a major in Poultry Science, despite what Forbes may lead you to believe.

A reader named John from San Jose, California, sent me this image. He was looking at the special report with his daughter, who noticed Forbes' flub. Did you spot it?

Take a look at the photo label on the far right. Perdue University? Forbes has confused the university with the famous chicken company. A rather birdbrained misspelling, I'd say.

Thanks to John for sending me this typo. If you see any worthy errors, readers, seize the opportunity and send 'em my way. Don't be chicken!

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Future Is Here

My closest friends are well aware that a certain '80s classic about a teenager and a "crazy, wild-eyed scientist" is my favorite movie, hands down. Even casual acquaintances figure out rather quickly that I love Back to the Future, as can most people who are in my vicinity whenever my text-message ring tone is triggered.

Why is this "power of love" so strong? Is it because the film was unlike anything I had ever seen — and have ever seen since? Is it because of Michael J. Fox's terrific performance? (A bit of trivia: The role of Marty McFly originally went to Eric Stoltz, who shot weeks of footage before being replaced.) Is it because the smash hit is an enjoyable mix of genres, including comedy, drama, adventure and sci-fi?

Nah. It's because one of my hobbies is time traveling. What, you don't believe me? Fine, what is today's date? December 9, 2011. Now, take a gander at the date of the Connecticut Post newspaper I read today. That's right, it's two days from now. I took my DeLorean out for a little spin this morning, reached 88 miles per hour and, well, you know.

You'll be relieved to learn that I didn't run into my future self on the 11th, nor did I disrupt the space-time continuum. I did, however, watch the Colts-Ravens NFL game. SPOILER ALERT: The Ravens win. Now, how could I possibly know that if I didn't travel two days into the future? I also now know all about the incredible Dec. 11 story that garners front-page headlines, but I don't want to spoil things. You'll hear all about it in a couple of days.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Give Me an H!

The error in today's post should be easy to spot. The photo caption notifies us of "an shake-up" in professional baseball. I have "an problem" with this one.

It's not an egregious error, but when I saw it, I knew it afforded me the opportunity to discuss a similar item I see — and hear — from time to time: "an historic."


That is not right, people. The University of Florida football team's 52-20 victory in the 1996 national championship game was not "an historic" event; it was a historic event. (To this blogger, anyway.) The article a should be used before consonant sounds, and the article an should be used before vowel sounds. The h in historic is not silent; therefore, the article a precedes it.

It's an honest mistake but a horrific one. (Note the correct usage of articles in that last sentence!)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

It's I-O, You

You have to feel for the Colts. With superstar Peyton Manning sidelined with a neck injury, the team is off to an unsightly 0-12 start this season. Indianapolis is so inept without its longtime quarterback that last Sunday the team found a way to lose to a make-believe opponent. I can understand losing to the Patriots, a first-place team with Tom Brady at the helm. But to fall to the Patroits? I know Colts stands for "count on losing this Sunday," but this is extreme.

Monday, December 5, 2011

That's Not Right

I'm no doctor — nor do I play one on TV — but I'd venture to guess that Matt Hasselbeck's right elbow is sore because he has something imbedded in it. Some outpatient surgery can fix that. The procedure involves a quick tap of the "delete" key. Do that, and Hasselbeck should be good to go for Sunday's game.

Friday, December 2, 2011

I Take Offense

Open the centerfold of the Nov. 7, 2011, issue of Sports Illustrated and you will see Peter King's NFL midseason all-pro team. Read closely and you will see an error.

Wide receiver Steve Smith plays for the Carolina Panthers. Carolina has trouble scoring. Its offense, in a sense, is offensive. So is using the word offensives instead of offenses.

The best defense against improper word usage? A good offense, of course.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Slap in the Face

Did anybody catch Ndamukong Suh of the Detroit Lions stomp on a fallen Green Bay Packers player on Thanksgiving Day? Suh was suspended two games for his actions. That's not enough in my opinion, but that's an argument for another day. Suh's disgraceful stomp reminded many, including the writer of this USA Today article, of a 2006 NFL incident in which Albert Haynesworth stepped on Andre Gurode.

It was at that point in the article that today's typo was staring me in the face. Let's face it: Faced has an unwelcome d. That makes me mad, though my anger will never reach a certain player's Suh-distic level. I prefer to release my anger into the ether via a blog post originating in Connecticut, my stomping ground.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Y's Horoscope

My brother, a Taurus, made me aware of today's look at writing gone wrong. It looks to me like the writer of this horoscope was creatively inspired to come up with a creative spelling for you'll. Is that the kind of impression he or she really wanted to make? This Aries doubts it.

Monday, November 28, 2011

There You Are, R

Remember the missing r I was looking for earlier this month? I found it. It was hiding in Virginia.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

More "Straight" Talk

My bad. I assumed straight was an easy word to spell, but I was wrong. I noticed it misspelled on TV during a college football game earlier this month, and now my friend Lindsay, of IAMNOTASTALKER, has shared the following, just in time for Turkey Day. She came across this sign at a Trader Joe's in Pasadena, California. I wonder if the turkeys that are straight ahead are the people who made the sign. Hmm...

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers!

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Holiday Break

It's the time of year to give thanks. I, for one, am thankful that bars and bistros tend to take liberties when promoting their daily specials. One of my favorite people, Lindsay, who runs the terrific IAMNOTASTALKER website, spotted this sandwich board the other day outside of a cafe in Pasadena, California. I understand that the board's physical dimensions limit what can be written on it, but that's no excuse for taking what is one word and making it two.

Thanks Giving Sandwich? Really? The fourth Thursday in November is Thanksgiving — one word.

Before I sit down later this week for a turkey- and stuffing-filled feast, allow me to offer a couple of simple sign solutions:

  1. Write smaller, and fit Thanksgiving on one line.
  2. Stick to the size shown, but add a hyphen after the s ... and, if you truly want to be accurate, lowercase the g and the last n.
In the spirit of Thanks Giving Day, I went on a pilgrimage to discover other new holidays. I've come up with a few. Won't you celebrate them with me?

In Dependence Day
Lab Or Day
St. Pat Rick's Day

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Settling a Score With TV Guide

If you enjoy college football as much as I do, you may want to tune in to tonight's Oregon-Southern California game on ABC. It should be entertaining. Fourth-ranked Oregon will be looking for its third straight victory in this Pac-12 series. You wouldn't know this if you looked at the latest issue of TV Guide.

The top listing in the TV schedule for Saturday the 19th is the Oregon-USC game. TV Guide describes the two teams as Pac-10 powers. Not anymore, TV Guide. The Pac-10 became the Pac-12 when Colorado and Utah joined the conference. The magazine then states that the Trojans defeated the Ducks 44-10 last season. I knew right away I was reading a fact error.

Even a casual college football fan can tell you that Oregon made it to the championship game last season, and that would not have been possible with a 34-point loss to the Trojans. I looked up the 2010 result and, sure enough, Oregon won 53-32 at USC. Where did TV Guide get 44-10, I wondered, so I checked to see if that was the score in 2009. Nope. Oregon won that one 47-20. Turns out, the 44-10 game TV Guide referred to took place in 2008.

And the all-time series lead for USC should read 37-18-2, not 37-16-2. For whatever reason, TV Guide failed to recognize the existence of the 2009 and 2010 college football seasons. Perhaps a bitter USC fan was in charge of the TV listings. If so, I can't blame him. As a University of Florida graduate, I'd like to erase the 2010 and 2011 seasons from my memory.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Family Issues

A softball buddy who teaches seventh grade asked if he should send me some of the errors he finds in his students' work. I told him thanks but no thanks. This blog isn't intended to belittle others, especially those who are young and still learning. My goal is to find errors made in the professional world, and to dish them out with a side of humor.

I also don't claim to be perfect. Far from it, in fact. I admit here and now that I advanced to a town-wide spelling bee when I was in fifth grade ... and spelled chocolate wrong! My mother still brings that up, with a twinkle in her eye, every so often. Sigh. And I'm sure you'll find a typo or two on this site from time to time. (If you do, puh-lease let me know!) In my defense, it looks like spelling issues run in my family.

Today I caught a glimpse of my mom's to-do list. I love you to death, Mom, but what a turkey you are. Thanksgiving has a K in it.

I'd even venture to say Thanksgiving is easier to spell than chocolate, though that's just one man's opinion.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Great Scott!

Call me crazy, but for me the most exciting thing in the November 2011 issue of Playboy had nothing to do with the centerfold or any particular pictorial. On the last page, in a section previewing what will appear in the next issue, was a reference to Back to the Future. That 1985 classic is my favorite movie of all time. By far. Love, love, love it! So much so, in fact, that I took a trip to Los Angeles in 2008 for the sole purpose of visiting its filming locations. Oh, sorry, I'm getting off topic. (If anyone wants to wax poetic about BTTF, I'm here!) Anyway, if you're even one-sixteenth the BTTF fan I am, you should be able to spot the fact error in Playboy's blurb.

If time travel truly is possible, the editors at Playboy should borrow that souped-up DeLorean, set their time circuits for the day before the issue went to press and change uranium to something with a little more kick. Namely, plutonium.

Friday, November 11, 2011


I was reading the newspaper the other night while watching reruns of The Big Bang Theory. I came across the blurb at right on the front page of the sports section. The Big East plans to invite Southern Methodist, Houston, Central Florida, Boise State, Air Force and Navy. That — and correct me if I'm wrong — is six schools. I wasn't able to do all my counting on one hand, but I'm still fairly certain I got the math right. I can't say the same for the headline writer.

To spare the newspaper in question from any embarrassment, I will not identify it. I'll leave you with a couple of hints, though: You can get the paper in the USA. You can get the paper Today.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Trick Question

I'm going to go with politics, because I've never heard of "romace."

This is from my local paper, the Connecticut Post. It's the first time the Connecticut Post has showed up in When Write Is Wrong, though I'm guessing it won't be the last. In fact, I predict the Connecticut Post, like Alec Baldwin on Saturday Night Live, will make the most appearances.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Where Are You, R?

On Saturday I was doing what I always do in the fall: watch college football. I don't miss a Gator game for anything. (Although the games this season have been one headache-inducing affair after another. Sigh.) While watching my alma mater hold on for an uninspiring home victory against Vanderbilt, these "SEC Headlines" caught my eye. I paused my TV (thank you, DVR), grabbed my camera and snapped away.

My complaint has nothing to do with the LSU-Alabama info not being the top headline, though it should have been. It was this season's version of the "Game of the Century," for crying out loud, but I digress. My issue is with the top headline.

While Georgia searched for its seventh straight victory against New Mexico St., I searched for the r missing from that headline. No. 18 Georgia found its victory; I'm still looking for the 18th letter of the alphabet.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Off Target

Sunday paper just arrived, chock full of inserts. The Target flyer had the six words you see here atop one of its pages. Now, I get it — advertisers and advertisements are less restrained by the rules of spelling and grammar than, say, a copy editor at a magazine. They have the freedom to be creative. That's fine. But creativity and readability are not mutually exclusive. So, even though I'll let it slide that the good folks at Target decided not to capitalize the first word, I will throw a big, tightly-packed snowball at them for not putting a punctuation mark between the fourth and fifth words. Try reading those six words. There is a natural pause. Well, there should be. But where is the period after day? Heck, I'd settle for a comma or a dash. Something.

The irony of it all is that Target's slogan is, "Expect More. Pay Less." It's not, "Expect More Pay Less." I expected more, Target. I got less.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Yellow Journalism

It's my first When Write Is Wrong post, so I may as well get off to a hot start. I think this one will do the trick.

While living and working in Gainesville, Florida, a few years ago, I came across an instant-classic editing blunder in the local Yellow Pages. Come to find out, I could not vote in local elections — I met only five of the six requirements. Oh, well.

What a difference two little letters make, huh? If only in had been left out.

By the way, this blog does not discriminate. The mentally competent and mentally incompetent are welcome.