Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Making "Cents" of Halloween Treats

Allow me to be Frank(enstein), readers. You’d have better luck finding actual corn in candy corn than you will have finding anything about editing in today’s post. If this development is a tad too spooky and you wish to stop here, I understand. If you’re brave enough to continue, that’s boo-tiful. I’ve carved out a devil of a story. I promise.

Many moons ago, I trick-or-treated in suburban Fairfield County, Connecticut. One year, I knocked on the door of a house at the end of my block, and the friendly elderly gentleman who lived there answered. I held out my kick-ass Incredible Hulk candy bucket and awaited my next tooth-rotting treasure. Clink, clink, clink. That’s the sound pennies make when they hit the Hulk’s plastic bottom. If memory serves, Mr. Lincoln* gave me seven pennies. Seven cents!

When that door closed behind me and I made my way to the next house, I was tempted to perform a pennyectomy on the Hulk and toss those coins at Mr. Lincoln’s humble home. Despite being clad in red from head to toe, sporting horns on my head and gripping a plastic pitchfork, I resisted. I may have been dressed like a little devil, but my mom raised me to be a little angel.

But why, Mr. Lincoln? Why give out pennies on Halloween? For all the dentists, nutritionists, overprotective parents and like-minded others reading this post, I get it: Candy isn’t dandy. It rots your teeth. It makes you fat. Blah, blah, blah. It’s one night a year. It’s supposed to be a fun holiday for the kids. Indulge your neighborhood trick-or-treaters' sweet teeth. Give them candy, especially full-sized bars of chocolate candy. Do not give them pennies or, for that matter, any of the following items:

Fruit, fresh
Fruit, dried
Cheesy plastic trinkets
Pencils — or school supplies of any kind
Religious pamphlets
Granola bars

It’s too bad I didn’t hang on to Mr. Lincoln’s seven pennies. With my financial acumen, and given the performances of my retirement accounts, today I’d probably have, oh, four cents.

* Names have been changed to protect the identity of out-of-touch trick-or-treatees.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Politically Incorrect

I’m Owen, and I approve this message.

The finish line is in sight. It’s almost time to put an end to the negative ads, the prerecorded political phone calls, the partisan mudslinging, the campaign signs staked into front lawns from coast to coast, the SNL prime-time specials and the election-season rhetoric. Obama or Romney? Romney or Obama?

We’re T minus eight days and counting until the presidential election. We’re minus t, too. Distorting has been distorted. Disturbing. Approval ratings plummet when letters go off the campaign trail. According to a recent When Write Is Wrong/Gallup Poll, 100 percent of those surveyed* are opposed to misspellings. Step aside, immigration, gun control and economy. A new hot-button issue has arisen, just in time for Election Day: spelling.

Right or left?

That’s your business.

Right or wrong?

That’s my business!

* Source: WWIW poll of 1 American adult 18 and older conducted Oct. 29, 2012; margin of error is +/- 0 percentage points.

Friday, October 26, 2012

An Error to the nth Degree

A month should not be abbreviated unless it is part of a full date (such as Dec. 7, 2009), so the Dec. you see in this excerpt should have been December. But that's an AP style rule and is probably too esoteric to be of much interest. The month mishap is not why I'm sharing this section of a Connecticut Post article.

It's blog-worthy for a "number" of reasons. We were given an ordinal number, seventh, when we needed its cardinal counterpart, seven. A cardinal number shows quantity; an ordinal number shows rank or position. Let's try using both in a sentence.

The earth and the heavens were created in seven days, 
and God rested on the seventh day.

I will not rest in my pursuit of misspellings, fact errors and other typos. I'll sail the seven seas in search of them, if that's what it takes.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Your Awful Postseason Means You're Terrible

This month bore the Great Depression. What, you thought it started 83 years ago? No, no, no. I’m talking about a crash of a different kind. I’m talking about the New York Yankees’ offense, postseason version. The “vaunted” Yankees led the American League in home runs, total bases, on-base percentage and slugging percentage and were second in runs scored during the 2012 regular season, but once the playoffs started, the offense crashed like an October 1929 stock market. While getting swept by the Detroit Tigers, the Yankees suffered through Black Tuesday (Game 3 of the American League Championship Series, or ALCS) and Black Saturday (Game 1), Black Sunday (Game 2) and Black Thursday (Game 4).

The Yankees never let their bats out of the cave, hitting .188 — the worst team average in Major League Baseball history in a single postseason (minimum seven games). For a 20-inning stretch during the ALCS, the Yanks, like new pantyhose, had no runs. They failed to score in the first five innings of any of the four ALCS games, and they never held a lead. Robinson Cano, the team’s best player, endured a 0-for-29 slump and finished 3 for 40 (.075). Curtis Granderson went 3 for 30 (.100) with 16 strikeouts. (Did I spell Granderson wrong? His name doesn’t look right without a few K’s in it.) Nick Swisher, Russell Martin and Eric Chavez combined to go 10 for 77 (.130). Overall, the team had about as many hits as Right Said Fred.

When the Bronx Bombers bombed offensively, however, Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez was the lightning rod for the fans’ discontent. That makes sense, for a few reasons:

1. He struggled in the playoffs, going 3 for 25 (.120) with zero extra-base hits, zero runs batted in and a dozen strikeouts. With runners in scoring position, he was a robust 0 for 10. His futility got him benched in three of nine postseason games.

2. He signed a 10-year, $275 million contract in 2007, making him the highest-paid baseball player ever. He’s paid BIG money to perform, and in the Bronx performance is measured in ring sizes. The World Series ring is the thing — the only thing.

3. The 2012 postseason wasn’t the first time A-Rod went AWOL when summer turned to autumn. (In 2010, he was 7 for 32. In 2011, he was 2 for 18. In the last three postseasons, A-Rod batted .160 with zero home runs and two extra-base hits.) The Yankees haven’t gotten much bang for their 275 million bucks.

In the midst of this ill-timed, team-wide slump, Rodriguez spoke to reporters about his much-dissected postseason struggles. When asked about being dropped from the Game 4 starting lineup, he described the situation as disappointing and said, “You’ve got to accept being a cheerleader and also make sure that you’re ready when your number’s called.”

That’s what he said. That’s not the way ESPN transcribed it on the network’s scrolling ticker. This mistake almost got by me. But the ticker isn’t a fastball, and I’m not Alex Rodriguez.

You’re, you see, is a contraction, short for you are. Your, on the other hand, is an adjective, functioning as a possessive. You’re not familiar with the differences, ticker typer. Keep failing at your job and, like A-Rod in a clutch moment, you’re out!

Perhaps I’ve been a tad harsh on Rodriguez in today’s post. Allow me to reply to such charges in a way A-Rod and all of his teammates can relate:

“No offense.”

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Chronicle of Errors

John, a reader who submitted a birdbrained typo back in 2011, noticed multiple errors in a photo caption on SFGate, the online version of the San Francisco Chronicle. He was curious if I could spot the same ones. Well, here's what I found, John.

Three of the errors I'd label glaring. 1. Misspelling authorities at the start of the sentence. 2. Omitting an s at the end of resident. (Or failing to insert the word a before resident, if it was but a lone resident involved in the search.) 3. Failing to add an –ing to the end of cling.

Those are just the biggies. Here are some of the other errors I noticed:

 There is no need to use continue and continues in the same sentence. It's redundant. I would have reworded that portion to something along the lines of "Authorities and residents continue to search for a burglary suspect who is hiding in the tall brush..." or "Authorities and residents search for a burglary suspect who continues to hide in the tall brush..."

Eastern should not be capitalized. When terms like this indicate compass direction, lowercase them. Capitalize them when they designate regions or are part of a proper name. (Examples: the western end of the island; a Southern accent; the Eastern Shore)

How about putting an in between Hill and San?

Ca. is not correct. The caption writer should have used the abbreviation Calif. If he or she wanted to use the two-letter postal abbreviation, it should have been CA, with no period. The best approach, however, would have been to forgo any state reference. San Francisco is a well-known city that requires no state reference in datelines, body text and so forth — especially when it appears in a San Francisco-based publication!

A comma is used to separate a day of the week from the rest of a date, so the writer should have inserted a comma after Wednesday.

When a phrase refers to a month, day and year, the year must be set off with commas. That means we're missing a comma after 4.

One short photo caption, nine errors spotted. Did I miss any, John?

Friday, October 19, 2012

It's Not the Same Without U

A kiss may be just a kiss, and a sigh may be just a sigh, but a by is most certainly not just a by.

Pay close attention to the penultimate paragraph. In its last sentence, which happens to be worth-less, we're informed that "some sailors by more" than $50 worth of raffle tickets. I hate to kiss and tell, but it should be buy. Sound familiar? It should, it's a homophone.

This post has been sealed with a kiss. By me. For those who are gay, straight or bi.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Holy Moses!

Following the NBA's 1981-82 regular season, reigning MVP Moses Malone parted the red-hot city of Houston and headed east to Philadelphia. His exodus weakened the Houston Rockets, but in Malone's first season with the Philadelphia 76ers (this blogger's favorite NBA team) he reached the Promised Land, leading the Sixers to an NBA championship. Malone was named MVP of the regular season and the NBA Finals. To date, he is the only NBA player to win the MVP award in consecutive seasons with different teams. Not too shabby.

One — especially one who writes for an NBA publication — need not be a prophet to tell the story of Moses accurately. The editors of the 2010-11 Sporting News pro basketball yearbook used "Look It Up" as the title for their Malone-based factoid. Had they looked it up — or asked this Sixers supporter — they would have learned that Malone went from Houston to Philadelphia, not vice versa.

I command thee, Sporting News: Thou shalt not bear false information against thy readers.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Masters of Their Domains

The Internet domains .com, .org, .net., .edu and the rest welcomed a new member not too long ago. The triple-x domain joined the fray, and faster than you can say porn, people purchased .xxx domain names to keep from being affiliated with pornographic websites. The University of Kansas, along with other schools, bought specific .xxx domain names to prevent their use by adult content providers. A prudent move, I must say.

For protective purposes, the University of Kansas acquired the rights to several addresses, including, and Corporations, brands and individuals followed suit; they preempted any X-rated association by reserving the important .xxx domains. That's .xxx, not .sxxx, which you will find in the photo above. A .xxx domain might lead you to a black screen with the words "This domain has been reserved from registration," as does. A .xxx domain might lead you down a dark, dirty path, as ... sorry, I won't be providing any examples. A .sxxx domain will lead you nowhere.

In short, we have an excess s in .xxx.

Friday, October 12, 2012

You're Too Close, Period

I've heard of using multiple exclamation points for dramatic emphasis or using an exclamation point and a question mark to denote a question being asked exasperatingly, but a comma followed immediately by a period? Those two, much like drinking and driving, should never go together.

My theory is that the original NFL blurb was lengthier, but in an effort to edit for space, an editor trimmed some fat, so to speak. In his quest to fit this blurb into its allocated spot, however, he failed to delete the comma. That gives me the urge to throw a host of punctuation marks and other symbols together. *&#%@!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Giving Players a Bad Name

Shhhhhhh! Come closer. I'll let you in on a secret. I've been chosen to select a basketball squad that will compete in the Greatest Ever Tournament. It's open to all NBA players, past and present, and through the use of rather hush-hush technology, each player will be represented in his peak, playing-days form.

I'm in the early stages of the process, still weeding out the wannabes. My backcourt currently consists of His Airness, who is the greatest player of all time, and the point guard who led the Showtime-era Lakers to five titles in the '80s. In the frontcourt I have Dr. J and Sir Charles, despite his stiff Saturday Night Live performances. Manning the middle is the big guy who claimed to have slept with more than 20,000 women. My lineup reads as follows:

Michael Guard
Magic Guard
Julius Forward
Charles Forward
Wilt Center

Pretty good team, huh? What, you haven't heard of any of these retired NBA players? But they're famous! The best of the best! Did I do something wrong? (Editor's note: Owen paused here to take another look at what he had written so far. He spotted his wrongdoing.)

Oh, now I see. I slipped into a bad habit I picked up from the Connecticut Post writer whose work is pictured above. I replaced players' last names with the positions they play. Fairfield University does not have a Ryan Center on its roster. It has a Ryan Olander, who plays center. You may even remember him from his appearance in a previous post. It seems if Ryan Olander is the flame, errors are the moths.

I apologize to my readers for giving the players on my team a bad name. That's not a position in which I want to be. Here, then, is my corrected lineup:

Michael Jordan
Magic Johnson
Julius Erving
Charles Barkley
Wilt Chamberlain

Stay tuned for the aforementioned Greatest Ever Tournament, in which my team will undoubtedly make a name for itself.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Property Damage

I am a man, and I am not afraid to admit that I’ve cried while watching my share of movies. My emotional response is usually limited to glassy, bloodshot eyes. Usually. Once, it escalated to full-on tears, upper-body shaking and that raw, sandpapery irritation at the back of the throat.

In Marley & Me, this animal lover lost it when — SPOILER ALERT — John Grogan, played by Owen Wilson, had to put his beloved dog to sleep. A year before the movie’s release, this Owen had been in the very same situation as the character played by the wealthier, well-known Owen. I could relate. (I miss you today as if you left yesterday, Prime, and it’s been more than five years. I love you.)

If we’re monitoring Marley & Me from start to finish with an electrocardiograph, looking for signs of heavyheartedness, the strongest reading comes near the end, when Marley dies. But pay attention to the heart monitor a few minutes in, just after the opening credits roll, and you’ll notice another blip. It’s an overlooked melancholy moment from David Frankel’s 2008 tearjerker:

Reporter Jenny Grogan (Jennifer Aniston) is reading a Sun-Sentinel article written by her husband, John, a fellow reporter. While she’s doing so, a full-page ad is visible. It’s for Florida Electronics Wholesale and, doggone, this improper prop requires wholesale changes. The ad makes me sad, for three reasons:

1. What’s with the slipped “disc”? Discounted has been reduced. I must dis the prop person for not saying yes to an s. (Full disclaimer: I missed the “DICOUNTED” mistake when I watched the movie and learned of its existence when I was checking out a site detailing South Florida filming locations. Can you blame me? It’s difficult to focus on a prop newspaper when it’s in the hands of Aniston, who, like a dog in retrieval mode, is fetching.)

2. Stop the prop presses! It seems someone has co-opted the role of the unruly yellow Labrador and taken a bite out of your. You and I have a problem, prop person, because you and r aren’t together. Why you’d take out the r? You can’t take it with you, so leave it with you.

3. You may be a super store, Florida Electronics Wholesale, but I’m fairly certain you meant to identify yourself as a superstore, which is a large store offering a wide variety of merchandise. To paraphrase the reggae legend who inspired the canine’s name, let’s get super and store together and I’ll feel all right. While we’re at it, let’s insert a hyphen between super and cool. Can we do that? We can? Super.

No animals were harmed in the making of Marley & Me. I can’t say the same for the phony newspaper ads. It’s a prop chop shop, for crying out loud, where words are stripped for parts. So sad. 

Pass the tissues!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Some Prep Work Needed

Read an interesting cover story in USA Today about authors who successfully self-publish their work as e-books. Perhaps if this story had been self-published as an e-article it wouldn't have contained the error I noticed before the jump. Can you find it?

Check out the quote. I'm assuming Prescott said the word to between going and make. What's that military motto, no man left behind? Let's apply that principle to our writing. No words left behind — at least no necessary words, however small they may be. Come back, to, you little preposition. We want you. We need you. It's not the same without you.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Hook, Second Line and Stinker

Curb Your Enthusiasm about this ad.
Sniff. Sniff.

Something smells funny.

I've pinpointed the foul odor; it's emanating from the second line of this online advertisement. I "Wanda" know why hook, you and up are hooked with hyphens. Gain — with the help of actress/comedienne/"Scent Matchmaker" Wanda Sykes — may make scents, but its use of hyphens in this ad doesn't make sense.

You may leave, hyphens. You're off the hook. Your loss will be Gain's gain.

What, you don't like my "scents" of humor?

This ad, sans hyphens, is scent-sational.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Tag! You're It

My friend Lindsay, of IAMNOTASTALKER, sends me greeting cards from time to time. For the Millennials reading this post, a greeting card is a piece of folded paper or thin cardboard that bears a message and is sent via an agency called the U.S. Postal Service. Sending a greeting card is a thoughtful albeit lengthy process that requires a writing utensil, some sort of paper stock and a stamp.


A Lindsay card often includes added bonuses, such as magazine clippings, funny magnets or other goodies. One such goodie is the item you see here. It's the tag from a sweater Lindsay purchased. "I don't even know what to say about this one!" she commented in the card. I'm with you, my friend.

Hand Craft by Los Angeles

The tags on the articles of clothing I own usually begin with a verb, so it is with just a tinge of uncertainty that I declare the maker of this particular tag was looking for the verb handcraft, which is one word.

The verb-starting clothing tags in my possession also happen to be in the past tense. I paused just now to rifle through my closet, and here are some of the tags I found:

Made in Sri Lanka
Knitted in Taiwan
Assembled in India
Tailored in El Salvador
Made to Last
Established 1999

So, taking things a step further, I will make the assumption that the tag maker would have preferred the past tense of handcraft, which is handcrafted. That gives us the following revised tag:

Handcrafted by Los Angeles

Much better. But not perfect. We've handled the spelling and tense issues, but that doesn't iron out (clothing pun intended) the tag's ambiguity. Who made Lindsay's sweater? According to this tag, Los Angeles did. As Lindsay asked in the card, "Do you really think the entire city of L.A. got together to handcraft the sweater for me?" The City of Angels has about 3.8 million inhabitants. If fashioning a sweater were a 3.8 million-person job, our nation's unemployment rate would not be hovering around 8.5 percent, that's for sure.

The line in this tag reminds me of the tagline in Lake Placid: "Part mystery. Part thriller. Parts missing."