Monday, December 30, 2013

New Year's Peeve

New Year’s resolutions aren’t my cup of tea. I’ll make an exception today, as we near 2014. While others prepare for New Year’s bashes, I resolve to bash this Hilton Head Lakes ad, which dropped the ball three times before the ball dropped in Times Square.

10, 9, 8, 7 … “New Years Eve” is missing an apostrophe and “five piece band” is missing a hyphen and cockatail is being followed — it has an a on its tail. (Is a cockatail a mixed drink served to small Australian parrots?)

6, 5, 4, 3 … Out with the “auld” and in with the new: New Year’s Eve. Five-piece band. Cocktail. I’ll drink — just a sip of champagne — to that.

2, 1 … Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 26, 2013


I became as animated as a Matt Groening character when I noticed a style mishap in Sports Illustrated.

In an effort to quench his insatiable thirst for power and recognition, Charles Montgomery "Monty" Burns attempted to set his name apart from the rest of the formatted text in this blurb. Nice try, Mr. Burns, but you failed to perform a "full Monty." If it was your goal to have your name stand out, you crashed and burned. You failed to recognize the capital M, just as you've failed to recognize your doughnut-loving employee in Sector 7-G on multiple occasions.

None of the Sports Illustrated text was supposed to stand out, of course. The entire sentence should have been printed in the same format, yet for some reason the "r. Burns" portion is, like Mr. Burns' driving goggles and Roaring '20s vernacular, out of style.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Kris Missed

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, one of the fun-fun-funniest holiday movies out there, opens with a cartoon. As the credits roll, we hear the catchy “Christmas Vacation” by Mavis Staples and see an animated Santa holding a check-marked list of last names.

He made a list. I’m checking it twice. I just found out that something’s not right. Like an elf on an NBA court, Elwood is in a place he doesn’t belong. You don’t need Rudolph’s glowing proboscis to help you A-B-see that Elwood goes after Eller because W comes after L, er, in the alphabet.

If I have a knock on Elwood, it’s that he checked in to the top spot on this checked list, taking the North Pole position. On this roll call, Eller is stellar.

Has anyone seen Santa? (Last I heard, an airline pilot spotted his sled on its way in from New York.) We must find him. St. Nick needs to nix this muddled list. I insist. He should drive it out to the middle of nowhere and leave it for dead — or sleigh it out to the middle of nowhere and slay it. Then he should make a new list, in alphabetical order. It’s what I want. I already have one of those stupid ties with his images on it.

Deliver the goods, Santa … and then deliver the gifts.

Avoid similar Vacation daze this holiday season, readers, and may your vacation days be merry and bright. Have a holly, jolly Christmas!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Noel, No L, Noel, No L

John, a reader from Northern California, made me aware of today’s error a day after last Christmas. I wrote about it immediately and then purposefully set it aside for later use. It’s been in my reserve for almost a year. An auxiliary post, if you will.

In the holiday classic National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (a staple in my yearly rotation), Clark Griswold is committed to decorating his suburban home, so he’s going to do it right — and he’s going to do it big.

His Santa-sized plans call for him to adorn his two-story house (and attached garage) with 25,000 imported Italian twinkle lights.

After a few ladder- and roof-related mishaps, the lights are in place, courtesy of an overworked stapler. After a few false starts, the lights shine — blindingly bright.

The house doesn’t have enough juice to support Clark’s retina-burning “exterior illumination,” so it draws power from the neighborhood, consuming kilowatt hours faster than the reindeer pull Santa’s sleigh and forcing the local power company to flip its auxiliary nuclear switch to the “on” position.

Problem is, no auxiliary power is being generated. Instead, an employee at the power company flips a misspelled switch. Someone has strung up too many letters. Auxiliary has one l, not two; that second one is providing no help. The lights are on*, but no one at the NLCV editorial department is home.

* Though they don’t twinkle. Thanks for noticing, Art.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Seven-Year Glitch

My brother, a University of Connecticut graduate, noticed this graphic while watching a Big East tournament game, and he champed at the bit to bring it to my attention. Thanks, Bro!

You don't need to be a Huskymaniac to find the error. In fact, you don't need to have any interest in sports. You do, however, need to have a sharp eye.

We're down two in the closing seconds, readers. I've just dished a pretty pass to you at the top of the key. The opponent's best defender is in your grill. Can you shake him off, shake off your nerves and hit the clutch shot? If you figure out today's error, you hit a tying basket, sending the game into overtime. If you figure out today's error and know exactly how to fix it, you sink a game-winning 3-pointer. If you can't spot the error, we lose. Losing is not an option.

3, 2, 1...

The Connecticut Huskies, as the graphic reveals, have captured seven Big East tournament titles. In which seven seasons were the Huskies in seventh heaven? The ESPN graphic shows us. Well, sort of. Count those championships. One of the seven has been deep-sixed.

This Huskymaniac needed no outside assistance to fill in the gaps. I knew right away that the one that got away was '99. Connecticut, with a 25-2 record, was the top seed in the 1999 Big East tournament. Following a first-round bye, the Huskies squeaked by Seton Hall 57-56 in a quarterfinal game that had me pacing so much in the closing minutes I believe the tread marks are still visible on my parents' living room floor. I had no reason to pace during the semis, when UConn crushed Syracuse 71-50, and the Huskies rolled in the finals, routing second-seeded St. John's 82-63 on March 6. Twenty-three days later, with my brother and I in attendance at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, the Huskies defeated Duke to capture their first national title.

U-C-O-N-N ... UConn, UConn, UConn!

Monday, December 16, 2013

That's Entertainment

Saturday night’s all right (for fighting), or so Elton John proclaimed. Saturday’s not all right (for writing), or so I declare — in this instance, anyway.

My friend Lindsay, of IAMNOTASTALKER, saw this banner while shopping in Rancho Mirage, California. I’m sad to report that it wasn’t a mirage; it was real.

The River, a shopping and dining complex, sets aside a three-hour block of time once a week for entertainment-related activities. I wonder what constitutes “entertainment” from 6 to 9 p.m. What do people do on a regular or semi-regular basis on Saturday evenings? What stokes their Saturday-night fever? Football games? Outdoor plays? AA meetings? Cooking classes? Street races? Extramarital affairs? I’m not sure. Anyway, it’s not important. I’ve gone off course. Allow me to right the ship … and to rewrite the banner.

When referring to more than one of these three-hour blocks, “Entertainment Saturday” becomes “Entertainment Saturdays.” Saturdays is plural, not possessive, so what possessed the banner’s planner to dress it with an apostrophe? Saturday’s is not in its Sunday best.

Here’s what a week’s worth of special days might look like. Note the complete absence of apostrophes.

Super Bowl Sundays
Meatless Mondays
Super Tuesdays
Ash Wednesdays
Maundy Thursdays
Black Fridays
Entertainment Saturdays

At the end of the days, all’s well that ends well.

Friday, December 13, 2013

I Knew "Your" Was Trouble

No, Taylor, I’m not OK. Yes, today is your birthday (happy 24th!), but I’m frustrated by something I spotted on a publicity image for “Our Song,” a track from your eponymous first album — something that isn’t too, um, swift.

In the poster, you’re leaning in ever so slightly. Look at those eyes — you have something to tell us. You want to talk. Sorry, Taylor, but I must pull a Kanye, bogarting the stage and saying my piece. Chalk up my odd behavior to an affinity for proper grammar.

Your problem, tailor-made for editors, occurs over your left shoulder.

Oh, your, why are you on board? I knew you were trouble when you walked in. (Trouble, trouble, trouble.) You’re the grammatical equivalent of nails on a chalkboard.

Remain after class, Taylor. Erase the chalked lyrics behind you, eliminating your and putting it from board to death. Then, a la Bart Simpson during opening credits, write down the following over and over, until you run out of room:

“Your” is a possessive pronoun. “You’re” is a contraction meaning “you are.”

Or write this:

“Your” and “you’re” are not interchangeable.

Your choice.

Taylor, your incorrect usage of a possessive pronoun possessed me to write today’s post. If I have upset you, feel free to treat me like a Jonas brother, a Twilight actor, a guy from my younger brother’s homeroom* or a member of a British boy band: Pen a song, hinting at my identity. You’ve already used “Red” and “Picture to Burn” as titles, so call your new song “Blogger Boy” or “Dear Owen” or something like that. I’m sure the lyrics will flow like tears when you write a song about When Write Is Wrong.

Apology accepted, Birthday Girl. Just promise me you won’t use your when you mean you’re. Like, ever.

* Musician John Mayer and my brother attended high school together and were in the same homeroom. When Mayer sings about running through the halls of his high school in “No Such Thing,” that’s my high school. When Mayer sings about busting down the double doors at his 10-year reunion, that’s my brother’s 10-year reunion.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Dunk Contest

I'm a basketball fan. Love, love, love to play. I also happen to be, at a towering 5'7", a homunculus, which relegates me to point guard duties during my weekly pickup games. I don't mind. I possess pretty good court vision. I see plays unfold. I see defenders trying to jump into passing lanes. I see teammates who need to cut to the hoop for easy baskets. I see words that need to be cut from captions. Wait, what? I suppose my ability to see things extends beyond the hardwood. That explains why catching today's error was a slam dunk.

I must slam the writer for abruptly sticking an extra word in this caption. Doing my best impression of an imposing shot-blocker (oh, to be tall!), I am contesting this dunk. Let's put it in the slammer and never allow it to see the light of day again.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Level With Me

I prefer that high school remain, like a tailgating car, in the rearview mirror, but when I spotted today's error I was back in front of my locker in Fitts House — clique-free me talking with friends, scouring the hallway for just a glimpse of oh-so-pretty cheerleader Vicki and trying to make it to Mr. Raslavsky's English class before the riiiiiing of the bell.

Why the school-days daze? I was transported to Fairfield High circa 1990 because these basketball scores tangentially reminded me of something I'm guessing we all had to endure in one English class or another. I speak of the formal outline we had to hand in prior to writing an essay. You remember those outlines, right? They were to act as guides, full of points and sub-points, Roman numerals and capital letters. They followed a straightforward path, which looked something like this:

I. Main point
       A. Secondary point
       B. Next secondary point
II. Next main point
       A. Secondary point
               1. Tertiary point
               2. Next tertiary point
                       a. Fourth-level point, if necessary
                       b. Next fourth-level point
       B. Next secondary point

And so on... We presented indented information from most broad to most specific, and the pattern continued until the outline was complete. Each "point" level had an equal weight; items at the same level carried the same significance.

An outline helped us organize and present our high school papers. Similar guidelines would have benefited the person who composed this newspaper section. If we were to apply an outline approach to this material, Basketball would be the title, National Invitation Tournament and Tournament would be the main points (the Roman numerals), and receiving the capital-letter treatment would be our secondary points: Quarterfinals, Semifinals and Championship. The game results would be our tertiary points, and we'd have no fourth-level points.

Knowing what you now know, do you notice what's out of line about this pseudo outline? If National Invitation Tournament and Tournament are equally weighted "points," they merit equal treatment. National Invitation Tournament gets a large, boldface presentation, and rightfully so. Tournament gets ... the shaft. Why is it relegated to the smaller, non-bold type reserved for our tertiary game results? As outlined above, both tournament names should look identical. They should—

Ooh, I think I see Vicki by the water fountain. I've gotta run!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Georgia on My Mind

Check out these women's college basketball scores. Georgia won. So did Georgia State. The state on Ray Charles' mind made it three for three when Georgia Tech defeated Clemson by a dozen. Things aren't quite as peachy as they may seem, however. By George, I think we've got the wrong spelling on that last Peach State listing. Gorgia Tech? Where's the e? Perhaps it made a run for the border. If so, it could be in Alabama by now, maybe Florida. Oh, wait, I found it. It's in South Careolina.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Have-Not

Rolling, rolling, rolling...

I'm rolling right and looking downfield, but I don't see have. We're in the closing minutes of a big game, and have has disappeared. The cornerback is blitzing. I've stepped up to avoid him, but the pocket is collapsing. I'm running out of time. Where's my go-to receiver? Have you seen have? We can't take a sack, so I'm going to air it out and hope for the best. The ball's in the air, it's arching toward the back corner of the end zone and it's ... it's ... incomplete. Just like this Sports Illustrated sentence. I have had it with have.

Monday, December 2, 2013

A Miscarriage of Justice

Just goes great with ice. Serving it on the rocks does it true justice. I think so. John Roberts thinks so too. And it’s not just us. (And it’s definitely not justus.) Noah Webster, George Merriam and Charles Merriam agree. Everyone agrees. Well, almost everyone.

While Christmas shopping, my friend Bret spotted this label on the back of a photograph at Pasadena Antique Mall in California. Bret noticed that justice had not been served. Instead, an odd-looking impostor had worked its way in.

“Who?” I asked.

“It’s justus,” Bret said.

“Just who?” I replied.

“No, not ‘just us,’” Bret said. “Justus.”

“Oh, that’s strange,” I said. “Justus has no right to be on that label. It’s not even a word!”

“Seriously!” Bret said, nodding. “Where’s the justice in that?”*

The $165 photo depicts the Hall of Justice, a historic building in downtown Los Angeles. Charles Manson and Sirhan Sirhan were tried in its courtrooms, and the bodies of Marilyn Monroe and Robert F. Kennedy were autopsied in its coroner’s office. The building, which has been vacant since it suffered damage during the 1994 Northridge earthquake, often was used in establishing shots on the TV series Perry Mason.

Those who worked at the Hall of Justice were principled people who did what was right. They surely would have fixed the last word on the third line — a word that can’t be justified. It should be on ice, not spending time with us. Sure, justus sounds like justice, but the former isn’t a word. Its usage makes one look silly, uneducated. I suppose that’s … wait for it … phonetic justice.

* Parts (or all) of this dialogue may have been fabricated. 

Interesting side note: Did you know that the other Hall of Justice — the headquarters for DC Comics’ animated Super Friends — was modeled after a real place? Cincinnati’s Union Terminal, a former train station that now houses a museum, inspired its large arch, twin pillars and water feature. The fictional Hall of Justice contains the Trouble Alert, which warns Superman, Batman, Aquaman, the Wonder Twins and their allies when something is wrong. Something like, say, justus.

The Hall of Justice in Metropolis
Union Terminal in Cincinnati

Friday, November 29, 2013

A Man Possessed

Why the apostrophe and the s following Taylor in the second clause? We could have made do with "Taylor made two..."

Without delving too deep into grammatical jargon, let me point out that the noun, Tyshawn Taylor, initiated the action and should be in the nominative case. It's written in the possessive case, which would have been appropriate if it were showing ownership.

In the sentence that follows, Taylor is in the nominative case and Taylor's is in the possessive case.

Taylor made two free throws, and Taylor's two free throws clinched the victory.

Now that you possess this knowledge, I nominate you to spread the word about the "best case" scenario.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

No Icing on This Cake

Are all of my readers familiar with icing? I'm not talking about the sugar-based frosting on cakes, cookies and other baked goods. I'm referring to the hockey term. Icing occurs when a player shoots the puck from behind the red line at center ice and it crosses the opposing goal line. It's considered a delaying tactic, and if an opposing player touches the puck first, the game is stopped and a face-off takes place in the offending team's defensive zone.

Icing is a minor infraction, as is the one that has occurred in this blurb. The writer raced through his assignment and, in doing so, iced a couple of words. The sentence, like a hockey team with one or more players in the penalty box, is shorthanded. We're skating on thin ice if we fail to include than after rather and the before puck.

It's a shame the writer didn't omit another word. He would have registered a hat trick, in hockey lingo.

Monday, November 25, 2013

You May Be Right (But You're Not)

A pull-quote, which is a short text passage pulled from an article and quoted in a larger typeface, is a common design element in magazines and newspapers. It's used to add visual interest, emphasize a portion of text or draw the reader's attention.

This pull-quote about Tiger Woods in Sports Illustrated certainly drew my attention. Maybe it'll appeal to you, too. I may be wrong.

In the (altered) words of Billy Joel...

You may be right
I may be crazy
But it just may be a "may be" you're looking for

In the body of the article (see image below), Sports Illustrated was as accurate as a Tiger Woods drive circa 2000, using may be. The magazine shanked its pull-quote, however, changing may be to maybe.

When do we use maybe? When do we use may be? It can be tricky, but maybe we can fix that.

Maybe (one word) is an adverb meaning perhaps. If you can substitute the word perhaps, maybe is the right choice. 

May be is a two-word verb phrase showing possibility. It's similar to "might be."


1. Maybe I'll ask Jennifer Love Hewitt out on a date. Maybe she'll say yes. (Editor's note: We could substitute perhaps for maybe in both spots.)

2. I may be upset if she turns me down. She may be making a big mistake. (Editor's note: We could substitute "might be" for may be in both spots.)

Has this helped? Yes? No? Maybe?

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Hunger for Katniss

Fans of Suzanne Collins' dystopian trilogy in which children are forced to fight to the death on television devoured the first novel, The Hunger Games, in days, if not hours. I'm sure the eagle-eyed Katniss Everdeen worshippers among them will have no trouble spotting the error in this blurb from a USA Today article about the movie version of the book.

If you've targeted the third word on the paragraph's seventh line with the last arrow in your quiver, you've nailed it. I bow to you for your expert bow work.

The writer and editor are Catching Fire today for misspelling the first name of the trilogy's heroine, played on the big screen by Jennifer Lawrence. Against its will, an s from District 12 has been uprooted and forced to participate in the name of the Games. It's fighting for its survival, but I don't foresee a happy ending.

Blame it on the Capitol!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Board Silly

When it comes to Wilt Chamberlain, what number impresses you most? If you’re vertically challenged, it might be his height: 85 inches. If you’re most familiar with Wilt Chamberlain, lothario, it’s likely the more than 20,000 women he claimed to have bedded. If you know him as Wilt Chamberlain, basketball player, it’s probably the 100 points he scored in a single game, in 1962. I’d argue it’s the 27.2 rebounds, or boards, he averaged per game during the 1960-61 season. No NBA player in the past 40 years has averaged even 20. In a game against the Boston Celtics that season, Chamberlain pulled down an NBA-record 55 rebounds. Fifty-five! Amazing!

Or so I thought.

Late one night Chris, a friend and former college roommate, sent me a link to an old article about the top 50 basketball players from our alma mater. At No. 18 on the rundown from Bleacher Report, a sports website, was Andrew DeClercq, a hustling big man who helped the University of Florida “find a way”* to the Final Four in 1994 before spending a decade in the NBA.

In the annals of college basketball, DeClercq, the chairman of the boards, has gotten DeShaft. He grabbed 958 rebounds a game! Even on his best day, Chamberlain managed only 5.7 percent of DeClercq’s average. Why is DeClercq not in the Hall of Fame? Why is he not mentioned in the same breath as Chamberlain and Bill Russell?

I’ll tell you why: DeClercq had 958 total rebounds in his four-year career, which lasted 128 games. That’s a per-game average of 7.5. When “a game” is inserted, DeClercq’s per-game mark jumps 950.5 rebounds. Yikes. I hope the Bleacher Report writer rebounds from this error.

Chris and I were teammates on the Ruthless Posse, a UF intramural basketball team, in the ‘90s. In four seasons together, we failed to win an intramural tournament title. In hindsight, our lack of success is attributable to Chris, a frontcourt player. Had he grabbed 958 rebounds a game — heck, had he slacked off and pulled in only half that amount — we’d have multiple intramural trophies in our cases today.

* Fans of the 1993-94 Florida team will understand why I chose this particular phrase.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Not Now!

Now and then, I have pizza for dinner. Last night I ordered one with my go-to topping, bacon. The doughy, cheesy, meaty contents of this box were quite tasty. The box itself, however, failed to deliver.

A certain three-letter word doesn't deserve its own punctuation. It's but one piece of a four-word sentence. That exclamation point following NOW is at the wrong point in this box-top sentence. In its current position, it's pointless — any way you slice it.

So, thinking outside the box, I suggest we put that emphatic punctuation mark where it belongs: at the end of the sentence. Let's do it. Now!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Comma vs. No Comma

You may not want to challenge Baylor and its imposing center, but this opening sentence must be challenged. Why the comma after Sims? You never place a comma between a subject (even a lengthy compound subject) and a linking verb. I, am right.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Twin Killing

FAST FACT: One of the hockey-playing identical twins referred to in this Sports Illustrated poll did not have his name spelled correctly. Oh, brother!

Daniel's sibling is Henrik. You got it right the first time, SI, but on the very next line — directly below Henrik — you gave us Hendrik. Why? The name remains the same. It remains — you guessed it — identical.

Monday, November 11, 2013

That's Nate Right!

As this article states, Portland fired Nate McMillan. The other members of the "firing squad," according to the story, are Paul Westphal, Flip Saunders and Mike D'Antoni. Counting aloud, I come up with four fired coaches. [Owen looks at his hand, muttering to himself.] Just double-checked my math. Yep, it's four.

So, what's with the caption? Is McMillan the third or fourth coach to be fired? The numbers don't mesh.

Turns out, the caption is correct. The article, therefore, must come under fire.

When McMillan, of the Trail Blazers, was fired, he hit the trail blazed by Westphal and Saunders, who were given the pink slip two months earlier. But the writer fired blanks when he listed D'Antoni as a canned coach. Pull him out of the fire! D'Antoni was not fired. He resigned. That revelation sparked today's post.

Note to readers: I will not be blogging tomorrow, 11/12/13, but you can, ahem, count on a new post for Wednesday. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Go Long!

I suppose it’s possible, with an unprecedented run of penalties, for a football team to be in a 1st-and-99situation. Possible, but highly unlikely. Even if a team is penalized or sacked, it rarely has to go more than 20-something yards to get a first down.

You won’t be surprised, then, to learn that Florida, my alma mater, did not face 1st and 99 in a recent game against LSU. It was a graphic tease, if you will, and I wish the person in charge had treated 99 like a wild animal and kept his distance. To be fair, because my beloved Gators have a conservative, boring R2-P22 offense, with its affinity for RUM3 and disinclination to work the forward pass into the game plan, at times 1st and 10 can feel like 1st and 99. (Did somebody break into the Florida football offices? The team’s playbook is missing its “Passing” chapter.)

I’ve popped the idea of 1st and 99 like a luftballon, but if any team knows about a l-o-n-g down and distance, it’s my team.

Can comedy and horror coexist? They can. They did, back in September 2000. Undefeated Florida, ranked third nationally, faced unranked Mississippi State in Starkville, Mississippi. Trailing 31-23 early in the final quarter, the Gators had a first down at midfield. Center David Jorgensen snapped the ball and, like a speech bubble or umbrella, it went over quarterback Rex Grossman’s head. Grossman tried unsuccessfully to pick it up before falling on it at the 21-yard line — loss of 29. It was déjà vu on second down; Jorgensen sailed another ball over Grossman’s head on a play the announcer equated to something out of The Twilight Zone. Grossman recovered the ball but was tackled at the 3-yard line before he could get off a pass — loss of 18.

In the span of two plays, the Gators went from 1st and 10 to 3rd and 57. Fifty-seven! Knowing it’d require a minor miracle to convert under such extreme circumstances, Florida coach Steve Spurrier backed down on third down. Grossman took the snap and ran out the back of the end zone for a safety. Florida lost 47-35, snapping a 72-game winning streak against unranked opponents that was the nation’s longest at the time.

You can watch Florida go the distance — or attempt to, anyway — in the YouTube video below. If you’re a Gators fan, be forewarned: The video contains suggestive teams, violent snaps, partial abnormality, strong ineffectual content, graphic ineptitude — the whole nine(ty-nine) yards. It may cause depression, hair loss, headaches, nausea, night terrors, Tourette’s syndrome or severe trauma. Proceed at your own risk.

The comedy of errors was a horror show that made Cujo look like Air Bud. It’s not every day, after all, that a team needs to gain 57 yards — more than half a football field — to get a first down. The longest distance you’ll see in a typical game is, as I mentioned in the opening paragraph, 20-something yards. Distances in the 30s and 40s do occur, though rarely, and we know 57 is possible. But 99?

That’s a first.

1 Actually, the longest possibility would be 1st and 98 — you could be at your own 1-yard line and need to get to the other 1-yard line for a first down. If you needed to get 99 yards from your own 1-yard line, it’d technically be a 1st-and-goal situation.

2 Years ago I coined the term R2-P2. It stands for run-run-pass-punt, a predictable and unimaginative approach taken by many football teams. R2-P2 is offensive anemia. I’ll break it down for you: On first down, Florida runs, usually for little or no gain. On second down, Florida runs again … usually for little or no gain. On 3rd-and-long, against a defense that knows what’s coming and often blitzes, Florida attempts to pass. On fourth down, following an incomplete pass or a sack on third down, Florida punts. R2-D2 worked his magic countless times; R2-P2 doesn’t work.

3 Not only are R2-P2 teams enamored with running on first and second down; they often prefer RUM — running up the middle. RUM works as often as goats during a government shutdown4, yet it’s the go-to play for many teams. You could say that teams that indulge their taste for RUM have a serious drinking problem. So might some of the fans forced to watch said teams. A ground-and-pound team that runs (and runs and runs and runs) up the gut can do irreparable damage to a fan’s liver.

4 When the U.S. federal government shut down last month, approximately 25 hungry goats at the Gateway National Recreation Area in Sandy Hook, New Jersey, lost their “jobs.” The herd, which was clearing invasive poison ivy at the park, was sent home to Upstate New York.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Let's Play Two!

Last season Alabama and LSU, two of the nation’s top college football teams, played on Nov. 3. Despite the “this game’s so nice, let’s play it twice” declaration in the TV listings pictured below, no Round 2 was scheduled for five days later. The only way the Crimson Tide and Tigers would have played again on Nov. 8 is if the game were an instant classic that aired on the fittingly named ESPN Classic. In a sense, it was: Alabama’s quarterback, AJ McCarron, shook off a terrible second half to lead his team down the field when it mattered most, tossing a 28-yard touchdown with less than a minute remaining to give the top-ranked Crimson Tide a 21-17 road victory against the fifth-ranked Tigers. LSU was stunned. McCarron was overcome. He sobbed on the bench and, when the game ended, rushed into the arms of his dad, who was in the stands. Alabama proceeded to win its second straight national title and third in four seasons.

Your only opportunity to watch these two powerhouse programs clash this season comes when Alabama hosts LSU this Saturday, Nov. 9, at 8 p.m. ET on CBS. I urge you not to take five … days, that is. If you tune in at 8 p.m. on Nov. 14, you’ll see a new episode of The Big Bang Theory titled “The Itchy Brain Simulation” in which Penny (Kaley Cuoco) confronts Raj’s (Kunal Nayyar) ex-girlfriend, Lucy (Kate Micucci).

College football is my favorite sport. The Big Bang Theory is my favorite current show. On my TV calendar, therefore, Nov. 9 and Nov. 14 are hot dates. I go from football to photons. From a physical game to physical science. From receivers in motion to particles in motion. From Alabama-LSU to Caltech.


By the way, actress Kate Micucci is also one half of the comedic folk-rock duo Garfunkel and Oates, and she co-wrote the sweet, clever love song “If I Didn’t Have You (Bernadette’s Song)” that Howard (Simon Helberg) performed on the Oct. 24 episode called “The Romance Resonance.” You can check out Howard’s romantic gesture below and, if interested, download the song from iTunes or The ode to Bernadette has been released in support of the charity MusiCares.

Remember: If you want to see Alabama play LSU, Nov. 14 is five days late. Only one game is on the slate, so don’t wait. Mark the date.

Too much rhyming?

Don’t hate.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Richardson Get Richardsoner

In 1962, the New York Mets had two Bob Millers on the roster. Both were pitchers — one lefty, one righty. In 2000, the Mets were at it again, with Bobby Jones and Bobby Jones on the pitching staff. One Jones was a lefty; the other was a righty. I’m guessing these same names created some “double trouble,” which leads me to today’s error…

A Daryl bio in Trent's section
To prep for his 2013 fantasy football draft and get an edge on his competition, my college buddy Garth Brooks purchased Fantasy Football CheatSheets, a magazine chock-full of stats, rankings, trends and so forth.

The fantasy magazine ranked Trent Richardson in the top 10 among running backs, which I considered a stretch, but it inarguably lost touch with reality during Richardson’s write-up. The bio is not about Trent; it’s about Daryl Richardson, a fellow 2012 rookie. Trent, a bruising back out of Alabama, was the No. 3 pick in the NFL draft. Daryl, who possesses more breakaway speed than Trent, attended Abilene Christian and was the second-to-last pick in the seven-round draft.

A different Daryl bio in Daryl's section
Oddly enough, the text about Daryl in Trent’s section isn’t repeated in Daryl’s section, where it should be located. Odder still, no text about Trent exists in Daryl’s section. (Still with me?) Daryl has a different write-up in his section — about Daryl. You’d think the magazine would accidentally publish Daryl’s text twice or publish Daryl’s text in Trent’s section and vice versa. Nope. Instead, Daryl gets treated like an All-Pro receiver and merits double coverage, while Trent is uncovered. Daryl has two different bios — one erroneously placed in Trent’s section — and Trent has none. If you’re keeping score, that’s Rams 2, Browns 0. Safety.

Trent? Daryl? T? D? TD? No chance. The touchdown has been overturned upon further review. I’d like to thank Garth for noticing the illegal substitution and for supplying today’s photos. Thanks, Garth! Wait, wait, wait! I’ve been referring all along to Garth Brooks. I meant Chris Brooks. You can understand my confusion. Thanks, Chris!

Friday, November 1, 2013

More Trouble for Jar Jar

Can you spot the minor mishap in this excerpt from an Entertainment Weekly article about, ahem, everyone's favorite Star Wars character, Jar Jar Binks?

Me-sa an editor, and me-sa tink dat "a odd-looking alien" looks odd.

What's odd is that article a, which should be an because it precedes a vowel sound. As written, the phrase is as odd sounding as the floppy-eared Gungan with bulbous eyes that resemble the pop-up headlights on a Porsche 928 is odd looking.

Hasn't poor Jar Jar been through enough? The computer-generated character, created to provide comic relief, bore the brunt of harsh criticism, negative feedback and unkind reviews for his performances in the prequel trilogy. Now the clumsy Gungan has had his head ridiculed, and, oddly enough, the writer couldn't even use the proper article.

How wude!

                                Jar Jar
Porsche 928

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Spooky Spelling Variation

Earlier this month, my friend Lindsay visited the Live Oak Canyon Christmas Tree Farm and Pumpkin Patch in Redlands, California, to find the perfect pumpkin in the farm’s U-Pick field. (You can read about her day, with its cornucopia of fall-themed fun, here.)

Lindsay’s trip benefitted both of us. She got her pumpkin in the patch, and I got a pumpkin sign in need of patching.

Today’s song and dance concerns an unusual absence in the VARIETIES show. Dispense with the theatrics, you say? Fine.

Variety is the (pumpkin) spice of life. Sometimes. Not when it comes to spelling. The word VARIETIES always has been, and always will be, spelled with nine letters. Unlike a witch, we can’t cast different spells. Someone at Live Oak Canyon did, squashing a letter. The first E, like the Great Pumpkin, failed to materialize. I don’t see it in the middle, which is why I see IT in the middle. I don’t like it. If you do, you’re out of your gourd.

VARITIES and VARIETIES are virtually the same. Virtually. Not entirely. VARITIES varies from VARIETIES, marring its veracity. That is verity.

When she wasn’t picking a pumpkin, my IAMNOTASTALKER friend Lindsay was stalking the corn stalks of the farm’s a-maize-ing labyrinth for an exit. It took her two hours, and she took a few wrong turns in the cornfield, but she made it through unscathed. I can’t say the same for the sign’s creator. He neared the very end, with the finish line in sight, but hit a rough, ahem, patch and failed to carve two E’s in VARIETIES.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Vons-dalism Epilogue

Maybe, just maybe, people are checking out my blog. More than three months after I wrote a “Vons-dalism” post about a faulty sign at a Vons grocery store in La Quinta, California, a mystery person took action. Yesterday Lindsay, my friend from IAMNOTASTALKER, sent me the photo below. She wanted to know if I visited La Quinta recently without telling her. I live almost 3,000 miles away and was not in La Quinta. Someone else scratched an essential S on the sign — someone who I’m guessing (and hoping) reads When Write Is Wrong.

This grammatical graffiti artist knows that in sentence construction, as in life, it’s the little things that matter. I don’t condone defacing public property, mind you, but now, like one of the Seven Dwarfs, I’m happy.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Hotel Guessed

Want to travel near the coast, in a state known for its warm, sunny weather? Want to stay at an architecturally stunning hotel built in the 1920s? Want to remain close to Hollywood? Want the hotel to have presidential and World War II ties? Want the hotel to have been used as a filming location for a Will Smith movie? “Let’s stay at the Biltmore Hotel,” you say. Say more. That line won’t suffice. Two Biltmore hotels exist that meet all those requirements — one in California, one in Florida.

The Californian Biltmore, known officially as the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, opened in downtown Los Angeles in October 1923 and was the largest hotel west of Chicago. The 683-room hotel has hosted eight Academy Awards ceremonies, and during World War II it served as a military rest and recreation facility. Senator John F. Kennedy used it as campaign headquarters in 1960. Scenes from Independence Day were filmed there.

The Floridian Biltmore opened next to an 18-hole golf course in January 1926 and was the tallest building in the state. The 275-room part-palazzo, part-castle has the largest hotel pool in the continental United States, and during World War II the hotel served as a hospital. President Obama spoke there during a 2012 campaign stop. Portions of Bad Boys were shot there.

When the L.A.-based Biltmore opened to “Host of the Coast” fanfare in the early ‘20s, did architects stop working? No, they built more Biltmores. The Biltmore in Coral Gables, a city southwest of Miami, opened three years later. More than 2,740 driving miles (or 2,330 miles, as the crow flies) separate the two hotels. Someone, it seems, failed to give Flavorwire this wake-up call.

My friend Lindsay, of IAMNOTASTALKER, was reading a Flavorwire article about 50 trips every movie fan should take when she had some reservations about the photo accompanying the Biltmore entry.

No need to light up a candle and show Lindsay the way. She knew that building, with its Italian and Spanish influences, wasn’t the Hotel California. It’s a lovely place with a lovely face, sure, but you can’t find it here, any time of year — here being Los Angeles. The pictured hotel, like the voices that wake you up in the middle of the night, is far away. Flavorwire got its wires crossed, writing about the Biltmore in L.A. but showing the Biltmore 2,000-plus miles away.

I must credit Flavorwire, which isn’t programmed to deceive, for recognizing its mistake and making the necessary repairs. Now, when you check in to the website’s article about 50 must-see places, you can check out a rebuilt Biltmore.

Oh, by the way, should you have a thirst for pink champagne on ice, I’d recommend enjoying “a drink,” not “at drink,” in the Biltmore’s Crystal Ballroom, where the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was founded during a banquet in 1927.

Friday, October 25, 2013

What's Up, Doc?

Great Scot!

Oh, wait — that should have read “Great Scott!” I omitted the last T. It happens.

In fact, a similar scenario popped up on a toy related to this blogger’s favorite movie. Pop! docked a letter from Doc’s first name, so it’s time for me to pop the question: Where’s the other T?

It’s missing, of course, like a case of plutonium from the Pacific Nuclear Research Facility.

I may know why Pop! toyed with the name, failing to emit Emmett’s ultimate letter. The same incorrect spelling shows up during the film. Emmet is visible when Marty McFly, shortly after arriving in 1955, thumbs through a phone book at Lou’s Café and finds a listing for “Brown Emmet L scientist.”

Marty rips the page from the phone book, moseys over to the lunch counter and, if I recall correctly, has the following conversation with the establishment’s owner:

          Marty: Gimme a Tab.

          Lou: Tab? I can’t give you a tab unless you order something.

          Marty: Right, gimme a Pepsi Free.

          Lou: You wanna Pepsi, pal, you’re gonna pay for it.

          Marty: Well, just gimme T, OK?

          Lou: Tea?

          Marty: Actually, give me two T’s.

Strange that the crazy, wild-eyed scientist’s first name, in a state of flux, wasn’t filled to capacity on the package or in the phone book. It can — and should — hold six letters. Another T is just what the Doc ordered.

The T may have vanished from that Pop! quizzical box and phony phone book like a DeLorean going 88 mph in the Twin Pines Mall parking lot, but it does show up in Back to the Future’s end credits and in several other scenes throughout the trilogy. Emmett is the first word of a banner headline on a 1983 alternate-reality edition of the Hill Valley Telegraph, and it’s etched on Doc’s 1885 tombstone.

Be more careful in the future, Pop! If my calculations are correct, whenever Doc’s first name hits six letters, you’re going to see some serious Emmett.

Editor’s note: Today’s post came into existence at 8:18 a.m. on Friday, October 25 — the exact time, day and date used in the opening scene of a certain touchstone film of the ’80s. Tonight at 1:20 a.m. Einstein will become the world’s first time traveler. Temporal experiment number one is mere hours away!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What You Talkin' 'Bout, Willis?

Cleveland could advance to the Super Bowl this season, though history suggests otherwise. The Browns, an NFL doormat of sorts, haven’t made the playoffs in more than a decade and are one of only four current teams never to play in the NFL’s title game.* (The Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans are the others.) Still, anything is possible. Check that. I know of one scenario that is not possible: a Cleveland-Denver Super Bowl.

The NFL is split into two conferences, the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC). Each conference contains 16 teams, organized into four geographic divisions of four teams each. (See the chart below.) Six teams from each conference make the playoffs, and the respective conference champions meet in the Super Bowl.

Cleveland is an AFC team. So is Denver. As such, the ultimate Browns-Broncos brawl would have to take place in the AFC Championship Game, for a spot in the Super Bowl.

Running back Willis McGahee played for Denver in 2012, but he suffered a season-ending knee injury that November, and the Broncos released him the following June — not July, as the blurb states. (Professional football is a cutthroat, bottom-line business.) Three months later, McGahee signed with Cleveland. In a recent interview with USA Today, the two-time Pro Bowl player pondered the possibilities of his new team, surprisingly tied for first place in its division at the time, crossing paths with his old team in the playoffs — but not in the Super Bowl.

Cleveland battling Denver for possession of the Vince Lombardi Trophy would be a dream Super Bowl matchup in every sense of the word dream. Even my beloved Dallas Cowboys, from the NFC, have a better shot of facing the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII this season.

Well, maybe not.

* The Browns are an expansion team that began in 1999. The original Cleveland Browns franchise, which went to three AFC Championships (losing all of them to, ironically enough, Denver), became the Baltimore Ravens in 1996. The Ravens have played in — and won — two Super Bowls.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The "Post" Knows No Bounds

North Carolina and South Carolina became royal colonies in 1729. Six years later, under the direction of King George II, surveyors using compasses and rudimentary tools of the era set about to create a border between the two colonies. The boundary was to begin roughly 30 miles from the mouth of the Cape Fear River, run northwest to 35 degrees latitude and then extend westward, making adjustments around Catawba to keep the Catawba Indians in South Carolina. The on-again, off-again task lasted decades. Notched trees, stakes and stone markers separated North from South, and a border was officially set four years before America gained its independence.

Though straight for long stretches, the border, more than 330 miles long, zigs and zags near its midpoint. You can be driving in a Charlotte suburb in North Carolina, head north and wind up in South Carolina. No lie.

In the mid-1990s officials from both Carolinas created a joint commission and began a project to reestablish the state line, one aimed at marking a definitive, permanent border. Unable to rely on the notched trees and other markers, which had succumbed to the ravages of time long ago, the surveyors used old maps and new technology (GPS) to determine the boundary, down to the centimeter. The task crept forward, as bureaucratic projects tend to do, delayed by problems, financial and otherwise. The survey created a state line and stately headaches.

The new state line shifted a few hundred feet in spots, and in early 2012 households and businesses in those areas, whether they liked it or not, had a new address, state and all. Moves were more metaphysical than physical. A gas station/convenience store in Clover, South Carolina, for instance, now sat in Gastonia, North Carolina, where gas prices were 30 cents higher and fireworks, which the mini-mart sold, were illegal.

The small shift created big concerns for the unfortunate folks who went from North to South, or vice versa. Consider all the issues that arise when you change your address. Those issues are magnified when the move is to another state and is unexpected. Tax rates. Utilities. School districts. Area codes. The issues are myriad, the impact great.

I’ve shared this long and winding border tale to establish that North Carolina and South Carolina share a state line. You can’t see it, unless you’re looking at a map like the one above, but it’s there. It’s an imaginary line separating our nation’s 12th state (N.C.) from its eighth (S.C.). A Caro-line, if you will.

Allow me to state that in another way: North Carolina and South Carolina are separate states. One is known for the mountains on its western end. The other is popular because of the beaches on its east coast. One is conservative. The other is more conservative. One favors vinegar-based barbecue sauces. The other prefers yellow mustard BBQ sauces. One is the Tar Heel State. The other is the Palmetto State.

The New York Post didn’t get the memo, and that’s the (compass) point of today’s post.

The Gamecocks of South Carolina and North Carolina’s Tar Heels kicked off the 2013 college football season in Columbia, South Carolina. “So. Carolina” is New York Post deck shorthand for South Carolina, and in this case it refers to the football team at the University of South Carolina. UNC stands for the University of North Carolina.

To play this football game, the UNC team had to cross the aforementioned border and venture into a different state, albeit one with colonial ties. UNC faced an interstate rival, not an in-state one. UNC’s in-state rivals are North Carolina State (Raleigh), Wake Forest (Winston-Salem) and, atop the list, Duke (Durham).

The newspaper committed a Post-al error when it failed to recognize the fine line that exists between in-state and interstate — and the imaginary line that exists between North Carolina and South Carolina.

Now, about the Dakotas…

Friday, October 18, 2013

Partners in Crime

Both images below are from an article about stepparents. The article offered eight tips to make stepparenting more rewarding. Yours truly has one tip for the writer — one to enhance your writing style. Use your!

In two of the eight tips, the writer used you instead of your in front of partner. Why? Your guess is as good as mine.

Step up, writer, and toss a couple of r's into this article. Otherwise, I may have to poke fun at you. You know, tell some "your mama" jokes. Or, to be more in step with today's article, some "your stepmama" jokes.