Monday, December 31, 2012

That's Your First Strike

In this blog last year, I ran a post detailing the incorrect usage of a/an. I revisited the subject earlier this year in a post about being shortchanged by Money magazine. Time to travel down that a/an road once again.

In the very first sentence on the very first page of the 2011 Sporting News pro football yearbook, I came across a featured typo. Before the editor could even get comfortable in the batter's box he fell behind in the count. Striiiiiiike one!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Not Very Becoming

What did football player Jared Allen do in his last game last season?

He sacked the quarterback 3.5 times.

What did those sacks do?

They allowed Allen to finish with 22 for the season.

They also allowed Allen to come within a half-sack of the record.

Coming? Come again? It should be come, not coming. Come on!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Catching an Error While Catching Passes

Xbox 360? PS3? Wii? Not for me. I'm old-school. If I get a hankering to play a video game, I'll plug in my vintage Sega Genesis console and play a sports game — a 16-bit game with simple graphics and simple player control. One of the regulars in my rotation is Tecmo Super Bowl. It's fun to play in full-season mode and keep tabs on the league leaders. I run a pass-happy offense, so my receivers are usually atop the leader boards. What I am not happy about, however, is that each time I check in to see if my go-to wide receiver leads the NFL in receptions, I come face to face with a spelling error.

Those pixelated letters at the top center of the screen are, like a 20-yard field goal in a domed stadium, hard to miss. I'm forced to check the recieving leaders.

Tecmo is a Japanese company and English isn't the native language of its video-game developers, so I can almost overlook the mistake. Having said that, I see receive spelled incorrectly often, and I shouldn't have to. Remember, readers: i before e except after c.

Back to the game. I have a feeling Michael Irvin is going to have a big day against the New York Giants.

Mele Kalikimaka to all my readers!

Friday, December 21, 2012

One for the Thumb

College sports fans can be passionate. Very passionate. I know. I am one of them. Want to get a rise out of me? Mistakenly refer to my alma mater, the University of Florida, as Florida State University, or erroneously state that its nickname is Seminoles. I know Auburn and Alabama fans can relate, and I'm guessing the same goes for Michigan and Michigan State. Both schools are located in the Great Lakes State. Both play in the Big Ten Conference. (Which has 12 schools. Go figure.) Both are public universities founded in the 19th century. Both have more than 40,000 students. Despite these similarities — and despite the schools' proximity (about 50 miles) — on certain matters these rivals couldn't be further apart.

Some Michiganders proudly wear maize and blue, Michigan's colors. Others sport Michigan State's green and white. Want to make them both see red, though? Call a Michigan State Spartan a Michigan Wolverine, or vice versa. That's what this USA Today writer did. The Wolverines, not the Spartans, defeated Penn State.

The state's Lower Peninsula, where both universities are located, is shaped like a mitten. An eastern portion of this region resembles a thumb and is known as — duh — the Thumb. I'm guessing any Wolverines who read this USA Today article wanted to give the writer the finger.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Technical Foul

Tweeeeeet! That's the sound of my whistle. I blew it because we have a violation. The caption writer has committed an illegal substitution. He replaced scorer with scoring.

Monday, December 17, 2012

In the Line of Duty

A forgetful actor might ask, "What's my line?" I am no thespian, so those words have never crossed my lips. If I were an actor, would they? Allow me to see if my acting chops will, pardon the pun, cut it. I will be playing the part of a proofreader at Sports Illustrated. It's my first acting gig, so bear with me.


It's holiday time in New York City. Christmas is looming. Inside the midtown offices of Sports Illustrated, deadlines are looming. The SI editors are busy prepping their final issue for the year. An article about the sports figures who have passed away in the last 12 months has been laid out, printed and moved to the copy-editing department. A senior editor pops his head into an immaculate, organized office.

                    Owen, here's that article on the 2011 deaths. Take a look.
                    Work your usual magic. We can send this issue to the printer
                    when you're done.

                    Sure thing, boss.

Owen takes the proofs, props his feet up on the Mahogany desk in his Time & Life Building office and gets to work, oblivious to the Manhattan hustle and bustle outside his window. He's focused on the task at hand. He reviews the first three pages of the 16-page story for typographical and formatting errors. Then, the phone rings.


                    May I please speak with Owen?

                    This is he.

                    Hi, Owen. This is Jennifer Love Hewitt. I'm a big fan and, well,
                    I've got a bit of a crush on you. I'm in the Big Apple for another
                    couple of hours before I head back to Los Angeles, and I was
                    wondering if you'd like to get together for coffee or something.

                    Oh, Jennifer, that's so sweet. I'd love to, but I've got some
                    proofreading to do. I'm really sorry. Perhaps another time.
                    Thanks for the offer though.

                    Well, you can't blame a girl for trying. I'll give you a ring the
                    next time I'm in town. Keep up the great work at Sports
                    Illustrated and with When Write Is Wrong. Bye.

Jennifer hangs up, and Owen, with his priorities in place, resumes his proofreading duties. The assignment goes smoothly, and Owen quickly makes it to the last page of the 16-page article. That's when he spots it.

                                   OWEN (talking aloud to himself)
                    A forgetful actor might ask, "What's my line?" I have to ask,
                    "Where's my line?" What happened to the line between the
                    Jim Northrup entry and the Rick Rypien entry?

Owen inserts a proofreader mark to let the editors know a line is missing. A few minutes later he finishes reviewing the article. After initialing the pages and returning them to his boss, Owen glances at his watch and notices that he got through the article quicker than he thought he would. He picks up the phone, accesses the last incoming call he received and presses redial.

                    Hello, Jennifer, this is Owen...

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Flurry of Activity

There's sure to be a flurry of interest in today's post, according to me. Not according me. According to me. When the verb accord, in any of its forms, appears without that two-letter preposition, it means to grant something to someone or to bestow something upon someone. For example, my readers are accorded witty, hilarious posts. (Or so I like to think. Doing so enables me to drift ever so softly into la-la land each night.) But Flurry Analytics was accorded nothing in this above-the-fold article in the Money section of USA Today. Are we all in accordance with the point I'm trying to get across? I just want a to. Just one to.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Design Flaws

I’m “White & Nerdy,” so give me long, Samson-like locks and call me Weird O (and perhaps weirdo), because I’m in the mood to parody a song. I’ve chosen the 1968 Beatles classic “Hey Jude.” My version is called “Hey Judy.” I have only two verses so far — the first and the last:

Hey, Judy, don’t make me sad
Take a bad sign and make it better
Remember the letters after the r
Then you can start to make it better

Hey, Judy, don’t make me sad
Take a bad sign and make it better
Remember to sever blunders you did
Then you begin to make it better 
(better, better, better, better, better, oh!)

Nursery’s? No siree. Y-apostrophe? Why? That’s not the plural of nursery.

Enter the nursery with me, Judy. (Soothing voices only in here.) Walk past the crib and make a beeline for the changing table. We’ve got a dirty word to fix. First, keeping one hand on nursery’s at all times (or securing her with a strap), wipe away the y and the apostrophe. Set them aside. Next, apply petroleum jelly to prevent a rash of errors. Then, fasten a fresh ie to the right side of the second r. It should be snug but not too tight. Put nurseries in a safe place while you clean the area. Dispose of the y and the apostrophe and, finally, wash your hands thoroughly. We’re done! Wasn’t that easy? Fixing that child’s room was child’s play.

My brother’s friend Vickey noticed this design flaw while out to lunch with friends at 5th Street Marketplace in Crossville, Tennessee. The marketplace is a one-stop destination for clothes, jewelry, artwork, greeting cards, pet products and home d├ęcor fashioned by local designers, artists and other vendors. Vickey, however, was not window-shopping on her lunch hour. She was window-editing. Thank you, Vickey! You understand that while open windows should be screened to keep out bugs, or insects, all windows should be screened to point out bugs, or imperfections.

This particular window has more than one imperfection. The flaws aren’t confined to the nursery. Kid’s Rooms wasn’t handled with kid gloves. The apostrophe comes after the s. I kid you not. Kids is a plural noun. When creating the possessive form of a plural noun ending in s, you add an apostrophe — at the end. What possessed Judy to insert it before the s? I stand corrected, of course, if Judy works her magic on only the myriad rooms of one spoiled kid. If, say, little Billy has two bedrooms, a rec room, a playroom, an office, a panic room, a private bath and an art studio, then Judy has done no wrong. But if she designs rooms for Billy, Susie and other kids, the punctuation mark missed the mark, and I must judge Judy.

Judge her I must. I’ve weighed the evidence, and it’s time to put the hammer gavel down: Judy, I find you guilty of multiple counts of improper apostrophe usage. If you are going to decorate your window with a fancy font, don’t fancy yourself an editor. Have someone who understands the rules of grammar and punctuation look it over before your windowpane becomes a window pain.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Serious Cause for Concern

Much to my dismay, it's time for another installment of what I will dub Ridiculous Redundancies. Let's do it again. (Or, if I want to impress members of the Redundancy Club, I'd say, "Let's redo it again.")

While doing some channel-surfing a while back I hit a gnarly wave and came face to face with this White Shadow episode listing. That unruly student has a history of teacher abuse, not a "past history" of teacher abuse. Past has neither a need nor a right to be there, but it made like a Janet Jackson nipple and slipped past the censors. I had to report such abuse.

Thank you, readers, for helping me get past this terrible ordeal.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Take "Up" Down

I'm not sure why the word situation is necessary, though that is not what has me up in arms about this blurb. Want to know what's up? A writer was up to no good. Read the second sentence. Slowly. Two ups show up. What's up with that?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Don't Discount Gullible Shoppers

How does America's largest retailer remain solvent during these tough economic times? I think a When Write Is Wrong reader named Dodie (who just so happens to be my "West Coast mom") has discovered the secret. She sent me this photo a while ago after seeing it on a friend's Facebook page. Thank you, Dodie!

That item was $9.72, but now you can have it for $12.50. Sweeeeet! Now I can get three for the price of four. What a deal! Still, I'm a savvy shopper, always on the lookout for lower prices, so I think I may wait a few weeks. If my calculations are correct, by then I'll be able to get one of these babies for only $15.28.