Monday, February 27, 2012

The Losses Mount for Xavier

It was a rough day for Xavier University. For starters, the men's basketball team lost its first game of the season — in large part because a number of its players were suspended for their roles in an ugly "basket brawl." Then, the school's home city, Cincinnati, lost an n and acquired an unwanted t in the opening sentence of this sports brief. Finally, the school lost a letter from its name. Where's the r in the second-to-last sentence? It looks like part of Xavier has been, ahem, x-ed out.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Ironing Out Some Confusion

This post is about a movie that's a few years old, so it's not like I'm striking while the iron is hot, but I couldn't resist using my superpowers for good in another Robert Downey Jr. film.

Remember the 2008 movie Iron Man? I enjoyed it. In fact, it's one of my favorite superhero flicks. It's not perfect, though. Here's why:

About five minutes into the movie, during a video presentation at an awards show in Las Vegas, a Forbes magazine is seen. On the cover is Tony Stark, superbly played by Downey Jr. "Tony Stark takes reigns at 21," the cover blurb proclaims.

Stark reigns at his company, Stark Industries, sure, but he did so by taking the reins at 21.

The cover blurb is letting readers know that Stark took controlling power of the company at a young age. In this instance, we need the noun reins. The noun reign refers to royal authority (the reign of King Henry XIII) or the power or influence of one resembling a monarch (the reign of Steve Jobs).

It's an understandable mix-up, but it's one I had to point out. I'm also deducting a few additional points for two other magazine-related errors (not pictured) that pop up during this scene. Both have to do with missing hyphens. I'll let my readers figure out where the missing punctuation marks belong.

  1. On the cover of Popular Mechanics: "Six year old Tony Stark builds first V8"
  2. A photo caption in MIT Technology Review: "Tony Stark poses with the prize winning robot in his father's workshop at Stark Industries."

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Goodbye, Khalid

Dear Khalid,

Not now! Please, not now.

I'm not ready to say goodbye to you. Not now. Not a mere 12 days after losing my beloved Marshmallow. In the span of less than two weeks I've lost two of the most important things in my life. Things. What an inadequate word to describe my cats. Should I have used animals? Too limiting. Beings? Too ambiguous. I'm searching for a proper term, but I'm coming up empty. Can you blame me for not having a clear head at the moment? Hell, yesterday, hours after you left us, we made tuna casserole for dinner and, because we were so out of sorts, so sorrowful, we forgot to include the tuna!

Our shortest month is the cruelest. It's associated with hearts and love, but February, in 2012, has been nothing but heartbreak and lost loves for me. For my family.

Yesterday is a blur. A heartbreaking, mind-boggling blur. Did you really have a seizure on the dining room floor? Was I really holding you as you convulsed violently? Did we really rush to the vets, to no avail? Thirteen is too young to die. I can't process this. Were you that eager, Khalid, to get to the other side of the Rainbow Bridge and see Marsh again? If that's the case, I wouldn't blame you. But I would miss you. I do miss you. Terribly.

Never again will I have you look up at me with your marble eyes, black as night. You were so trusting, always, but particularly during your twice-daily insulin injections and pill takings. Mom made you as comfortable as possible, of course. I teased her about it, but she was the true "chief of staff" at our in-house hospital.

All your "visits" to the bed for your injections and pills ended the same: with Mom planting a kiss (or two or three or four) atop your little head. You knew the routine, and you didn't attempt to leave until the kiss was given. One time, Mom forgot your kiss and left the room, only to return minutes later with you still recumbent on the bed, awaiting your smooches. You didn't leave the bed. Yesterday, you left this big bed we call earth — and you took a piece of me with you.

You gave so much more than you took, however. I suppose you had a lot to give. You were, after all, a bit big-boned, just like your namesake Khalid El-Amin, the starting point guard on the 1998-99 UConn basketball team that won the national championship. I was in the arena in St. Petersburg, Florida, the day Khalid and his teammates captured the national title. It was a great, great day that continues to bring me immeasurable joy. It's fitting, then, that you were named for one of the team's players, for you too have brought me more happiness than I could have ever envisioned.

You weren't the excessively loving, cuddle-in-your-lap cat, but when you wanted "ups," you perched on your back legs, placed your front paws on our knees and sought rough knuckle rubs atop your head. Oh, how I wish I could give you one more.

Or have you sleep with Paul one more time. You didn't grace us with your presence often, but on the rare occasions you did sleep with us, you'd get so content and reach such a state of comfort that you'd drool. That always made Paul smile. If my brother's smiling, I'm smiling. So thank you, Khalid.

I must admit, I can't thank you for the following: Every so often, your "deposits" in the litter box would be so strong, so terribly strong, that gas masks would have come in handy. They were, as Paul described 'em, "the stinkiest poops in the world — worse than any human."

But, even sans gas masks, we didn't care. In fact, we found it funny. You were our "Big Guy," after all. Our "Chumbawumba." Our "Fatty Fat Fat." Affection monikers all.

Whose PH level will I check now? (Of course, your PH level had nothing to do with acids and bases. It measured the status of your "poopy heinie.") Who will come running when I open a can of food? (I couldn't snap the tab on a can without you hearing it and making a beeline toward the kitchen, even if I purposely had the water running to drown out the pop! of the can.) Who will drink out of the backyard birdbath again? Whose bladder-control problems will result in wet basement floors for me to scrub? (It was a dirty job, but it pales in comparison to the times you peed on us as we carried you into the bedroom for your insulin shot!)

I'll save your favorite spots for you, Khalid. In the cat bed, under the dining room window. Under the backyard pine tree, where you were safe, secluded, shaded ... and close enough to the back door to hear calls of "You want to eat?" In the northwest corner of the deck, where you'd sleep or watch the backyard menagerie, including the mice and birds, of which you caught one or two (who's counting?) during your 13-plus years as a member of our family. You'd leave your "catch of the day" at the back door for us. A gift. How thoughtful.

The best gift you gave me, of course, was you. I'll carry it with me, always.

Give Marsh a kiss for me. I love you, Khalid.


A Bad Date

Are you a baseball fan itching for Opening Day? To pass some of the time between now and then, consider purchasing a 2012 baseball yearbook. Some have already hit the shelves at bookstores and newsstands nationwide; others will be, like Alex Rodriguez with two strikes, out soon.

The Lindy's baseball yearbook, for example, comes out Feb. 31, according to the company's website. Cool. That means we have to wait only nine days for it to— Whoa! Wait a minute! I don't want to leap to conclusions, but a leap year February, which we have in 2012, has but 29 days. Is this some sort of leap, leap, leap year? Does the Lindy's magazine really come out March 2? I'm confused.

Turns out, it's just a bad date, similar in name only to the one that killed the monkey in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

There's no crying in baseball, and there's no 31st day in February. It's but a "day" dream. If you attempt to wait until Feb. 31 to buy your baseball preview magazine, you'll be waiting a long time. Almost as long as the Cubs have been waiting to win a World Series.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Get Lost, "Get"

Oh, poor Nebraska and Michigan. They didn't get the help they needed. Neither did the proofreader of this article. Had he, he would have been notified that the word get is repeated.

We all type the same word back-to-back from time to time, but it's a simple error that any spell-check program will find. When I commit this offense in Microsoft Word, the repeated word is immediately underlined in red, letting me know I've made a boo-boo.

Often, repeated words don't even register to a reader. Still, it's too, too bad they occur.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Poor Old Johnnie Ray

I am a child of the '80s. My favorite movie is from the '80s. My favorite television show is from the '80s. My favorite music is from the '80s. I enjoy many of the one-hit wonders that hit the airwaves during the days of Rubik's Cubes, Guess jeans and New Coke.

One of my favorites is "Come On Eileen" by Dexys Midnight Runners. The 1982 song was a No. 1 hit in the United States and the year's top-selling single. Those accomplishments were bolstered, no doubt, by a video featuring a group of overall-wearing musicians.

As a fiddle plays over a percussive beat, the video opens with archival footage of Johnnie Ray, a singer and songwriter popular in the 1950s, exiting an airplane. His devoted female admirers are waiting for him. One has "Johnnie Ray Fan" spelled out on her shirt. Another has "Johnnie Ray" written on her shoes. A third has "Johnnie" emblazoned on her sweater.

Where's the beef, you might be wondering.

Well, the opening lyrics of "Come On Eileen" are as follows:

Poor old Johnnie Ray / Sounded sad upon the radio / Broke a million hearts in mono

Yet when the lyrics kick in, spelled out for us on the screen, what do we see?

"Poor old Johnny Ray..."

Poor old Johnnie Ray, indeed. He had his name misspelled. Did the music-video director not notice the shirt? The shoes? The sweater? Come on, Dexys Midnight Runners.

Johnnie on a shirt
Johnnie on some shoes
Johnnie on a sweater
Johnny on the screen

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Where Is He?

Where is he? During the course of the last couple of years, people have been asking that question often about NBA player LeBron James, in reference to his propensity to "disappear" during the closing moments of important games. (See: 2011 NBA Finals) This particular question was the basis of the pictured USA Today article, actually. I'm posing that very same question, though I literally want to know: Where is he?

Read that last sentence. It's not a sentence; it's a fragment. We need a subject. Oh, poor USA Today writer. You were doing so well right up until the very end.

Sound like any NBA superstar we know?

Monday, February 13, 2012

What's New?

A simple transposition will fix the "rhyme time" error in this Connecticut Post article. "New two" should be "two new."

My guess — and this is merely a guess — is that the original AP story had "based on the claims of new accusers," and somewhere along the line an editor wanted to include a bit of numerical detail. Problem is, he or she threw two in to view after it was due, and in lieu of "two new" we got "new two." It's true.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Goodbye, Marsh

"If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, 
but it would deteriorate the cat." – Mark Twain, 1894

Dear Marshmallow,

I glanced over at the heating vent in the living room, but you weren't there. You weren't there.

You weighed less than 5 pounds at the end, Marsh, yet your passing leaves me with the heaviest of hearts.

You came into my life more than 18 years ago. More than eighteen years. In a sense, that's a long time. Think about it. In 1993 ...

... gas cost, on average, about $1.10 a gallon.
... Justin Bieber had yet to be born.
... being green was primarily a concern for Kermit, not a lifestyle choice.
... only birds tweeted.
... the NFL had only 28 teams, including two in Los Angeles.
... O.J. Simpson was best known for being a Hall of Fame NFL player.
... we weren't limited to 3.4 ounces of liquids and gels in our carry-ons.

Today, however, those 18 years are a blur, flashing before me like a shooting star — moving so fast, burning so bright, disappearing too soon.

For myriad reasons, I have been so blue for so long now that I'd need a ladder to be down in the dumps. This morning, though, my life became immeasurably more melancholy. Marsh, my pretty girl with the big, beautiful green eyes, is gone.

The pretty girl who staked her claim to the spot in front of the heating vent on cold Connecticut days.

The pretty girl who sought out the sunny spot, whether in the corner of the backyard cat pen or at the foot of the stairs when the light shined through the front door.

The pretty girl who was smart enough to hold her food dish in place with her paw while the silly male cats of the house pushed their plates from one end of the room to the other at mealtime.

The pretty girl who had us laughing the day she left a "special treat" (of the fecal variety) in a pair of slippers.

The pretty girl who awakened Mom each morning with a nose-to-nose greeting, sometimes adding a lick of an eyelid. In return, you'd receive a kiss on the top of the head. I can't begin to count the number of such kisses you received in your 18+ years. You were Mom's girl. You always will be.

The pretty girl who slept in a camel-like position from time to time. It looked so uncomfortable. Today, I am the uncomfortable one.

The pretty girl who was — and who will continue to be — the, shall we say, butt of an inside joke that will live on in perpetuity in our family.

The pretty girl who preferred her meals topped with broken-up pieces of sliced cheese.

The pretty girl who somehow always sensed when Mom was ill and kept her constant company, nestling at her side.

The pretty girl who often felt her human counterparts couldn't get the food out of the can and into her dish fast enough to suit her. You'd meow ... and meow ... and meow. I laughed off the incessant cries because I loved you as you loved me: unconditionally.

The pretty girl who left us for a week a decade ago. Where did you go? I didn't really care. I just hoped and prayed you'd find your way back. When I got the call that you had returned home, I raced across town, heart thumping, to see you. You greeted me at the back door. I picked you up, cradled you in my arms and dropped to the kitchen floor. That moment, seated on the linoleum, with my back propped up against the refrigerator, is imprinted in my mind's eye with the utmost clarity. I will never forget that moment, that feeling. Time spent with you was never wasted.

You asked for nothing, Marsh. Well, nothing more than food, shelter, a clean litter box, some sun and a few other basic necessities. You gave so much, though, whether you realized it or not. You've left an indelible mark on my heart, Marsh. I will miss you so much.

I already do.


Failing to Medal

Short-track speed skater Apolo Ohno earned three medals at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. He was a focal point of NBC's coverage. Had he seen what we see here, Ohno would have exclaimed, "Oh, no!"

Fortunately, Ashley, a Drew Barrymore fan who runs the charming, fun-filled Drewseum website, caught and captured this Olympian "oops" moment and sent it my way. Thanks, Ashley!

NBC has had its share of "must-see TV" over the years, including The Cosby Show, Family Ties (my all-time fave), Cheers, Seinfeld and Friends. Was this must-see TV? Only for those of us on the prowl for spelling errors. Thank you, Peacock Network. (Cue the famous three-note NBC chimes.)

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Capital Offense

I set up today's image, which is from a USA Today article about air travel, so that the error basically jumps off the page. Take a second and see if you can find it.

Second's up!

As a journalist, it's of the utmost importance to spell proper names — of people, places and things — correctly. If you aren't sure of a spelling, look it up.

The capital of Argentina is Buenos Aires, not Buenes Aires. Buenos Aires means "Good Air" or "Fair Winds" in Spanish. Good air? That's nice. Good error? Does such a thing exist?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Headline Was No-Go

Today's post is about an error that appeared in a newspaper more than a year ago, but it's such a classic — an above-the-fold misspelling of a city name in large, bold letters — that I couldn't resist revisiting it.

NFL fans reading this will recall that last season the Green Bay Packers faced the rival Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago in the NFC Championship Game. In its preview of the big game, the Green Bay Press-Gazette made a glaring error front and center on page A-1.

I've got to hand it to the folks at the Press-Gazette, though. The next day, they addressed their error and handled the situation with humor.

For those living under a rock, the Packers went on to defeat the Bears en route to a Super Bowl victory. In the battle for biggest blunder on a front page, however, Green Bay failed to supplant reigning champion Chicago. After all, it was the Chicago Tribune that declared "Dewey Defeats Truman" in its Nov. 3, 1948, edition. Inaccurately reporting the winner of a presidential election trumps misspelling a city name any day. Sorry, Green Bay.