Friday, August 30, 2013

A So-So Performance

Today's typo is bad; it's so, so bad.

"They were playing" nicely, and then so interrupted. So not cool, so.

I'm not sure what triggered so-and-so to use so and so, but this so-called sentence requires a solo so ... and I'm going to tell him so, in so many words. I'm on my way to his office. I'll surreptitiously record our conversation so my readers get the unmitigated truth. I'm entering his office right now. Be cool.

Owen: Hello.

Writer: Hi.

Owen [showing writer the erroneous sentence]: This has too many words, so much so that I had to blog about it.

Writer: So?

Owen: So?

Writer: Yeah. So?

Owen: So aren't you going to kill that first so, so to speak?

Writer: Nah. So be it.

Owen: So you don't care?

Writer: Not so much.

Owen: So unprofessional.

Writer: Is that so?

Owen: Yes. It's unprofessional, ignorant and so on. The error is so glaring, I'd say you did it on purpose.

Writer: Did not.

Owen [slamming door behind him]: Did so!

Well, there you have it, readers. I did my best, but I couldn't get this so-so writer to say so long to so.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

An All-Star Who What?

What, exactly, did the All-Star pitcher acquire from the Mariners? A yacht to use on Puget Sound? A lifetime supply of passes to the top of the Space Needle? Coupons for free food at Pike Place Market?

The pitcher acquired nothing from the Mariners, of course. He was acquired from the Mariners. Was acquired. That linking verb was left out of this article about the pitcher, and I'm making a pitch for its inclusion after who. (Editor's note: The sentence also would have worked by deleting who.)

Without was (or with who), this writer's work is all wet — like an Emerald City citizen without an umbrella in November.

Monday, August 26, 2013

A One-Man Show

Are you a man or a mond? That's what I was asking myself after reading this short ESPN The Magazine story.

The Red Sox were one out away. ESPN The Magazine was one word away — one word away from an error-free story. To paraphrase Vin Scully: "It gets through editor!"

In the world of editing, the name of the game is accuracy. The ESPN The Magazine editor gave a bad name to editors everywhere when he gave a bad name to a former Mets executive. He went 1-for-1 when, four lines down, he mentioned Arthur Richman. He dropped to 1-for-2 when, on the next line, he swung and missed, changing Richman to Richmond.

I didn't catch your name, ESPN The Magazine editor, but I did catch your name-based error. Your second reference isn't man enough. Like a runner with a big lead, it's way off base.

You're batting .500, which would get you into the Hall of Fame if you were a baseball player, but that average will get you fired if you're an editor. If you want my assistance, give me a call. We can have a man-to-mond chat.

Friday, August 23, 2013

An S Will Aid Us

Say what? Said is in need of first-aid treatment, for its first letter has been severed. The s has gone the way of the dodo. The less said about this "said with less," the better. Having said that...

Words that end in -aid need their first letter. Otherwise, meaning is lost.


The aid aid she aid for the can of aid.

What the heck does that mean? When we include those pesky initial letters, the mystery is solved.

The maid said she paid for the can of Raid.

Along the same lines, s-words sans the s's can result in quite the mixed message.


The lumbering man who lived in pain was killed with words.

That is grammatically correct, and it makes some sense, I suppose. It'd make more sense, however, if we put those s's back where they belong.

The slumbering man who lived in Spain was skilled with swords.

What a difference an s (or two or three) makes.

Enough said.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Off the Mark

This article has a Mark on it. I'd like it removed.

Mark my words: That bassist who used to be at the mic for Van Halen is Mike, not Mark, Anthony.

You may want to be like Mike, Mark, but you don't look identical. That's how I nailed you. I am quite the marksman.

Things are out of tune, editors. "You Really Got Me" annoyed when you used the wrong first name, so "Jump" to it and fix the article, because "Right Now" it's not "Good Enough." Go on, "Finish What Ya Started." "I'll Wait."

So, how'd I do, readers? Do I get high marks for this post?

Monday, August 19, 2013


A while back my celebrity-obsessed friend Lindsay, of IAMNOTASTALKER, blogged about an Italian restaurant that Shannen Doherty, one of her favorite actresses, once patronized. While doing some research for her post, Lindsay came across an article on Sherman Oaks Patch, a website that provides local coverage of news and events in Sherman Oaks, California. She spotted an error. She made me aware. That’s what friends are for. Grazie, Lindsay!

The article references the actress … or a woman with a similar name. The shenanigans begin with Shannon. The former Beverly Hills, 90210 star spells her name a bit unconventionally, with an e. It’s Shannen. Her parents didn’t opt for the more common Shannon. Nor did they choose Shanin, Shanenn, Shanyn or Siannon.

The mamma mia momentum continues with Dougherty. The actress, whom you probably know best from Our House or Beverly Hills, 90210 or Charmed, depending on your age, spells her surname Doherty. Always has. Always will. (Probably.) As Lindsay pointed out, the Sherman Oaks Patch writer likely had dough on the brain when he was writing about Antonio’s Pizzeria. Had he made an Education Connection, however, he never would have substituted Doh with Dough. D’oh!

Friday, August 16, 2013

A "Math" Problem

Commas lurk where they don't belong (after buildings and people), though that's not what has triggered today's post. I'm writing to point out a misspelled word — the aftereffect of some sloppy editing.

After all is said and done, the word aftermath has been destroyed in the caption lead-in. Its m has lost one of its humps, unwittingly becoming an n. If we fix what comes after after, we can all live happily ever after.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Sentence "on the" Rocks

What's on the agenda, readers? Well, while on the prowl for typos, I kept my eye on the ball and on the first try I found "on the" followed by "on the." I was on the verge of putting this error on the back burner, but when "on the" comes on the heels of another "on the," a When Write Is Wrong post is on the horizon. I will forever be on the job, seeking text that's as out of order as a computer on the fritz. You can be on the run, errors, but I will be on the road, tracking you — and I will find you. Are we on the same page? I thought so.

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Beefed-Up Menu Item

Restaurant menus have little in common with, say, cover stories in The New York Times. The latter are dissected by a team of college-educated professionals dedicated to following the rules of grammar and style. The former are typically composed in-house by people without a journalism background; they have no New York Times-like safeguards in place. That is why I allow restaurants a little leeway when it comes to capitalization, punctuation, abbreviations and so forth. Spelling mistakes, however, are never palatable. If I see one, even on a greasy menu at a hole in the wall, it goes on my "whine list." And, with that, here is today's entree...

I'm not sure why "South East Asia" isn't "Southeast Asia" on this take-home menu from Kiraku, a Japanese restaurant in my hometown, but my main beef is with, well, beeef. What's with the extra meat in that dish? Take that extraneous e off the menu. This carnivore wants to know: Where's the beef?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Goodbye, Keaton

Dear Keaton,

“He’s the one, huh, Mom?”

Paul uttered those five words while picking out a kitten in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in the spring of 2008. A tiny Mackerel tabby, teetering on his back legs, was quite literally clawing his way to the top of his box. Pick me! Pick me! That was you, Keaton. I’m sure you remember that special day. When your emerald eyes met Mom’s, awash with tears, the love was immediate and everlasting, the pick inevitable.

You were a gift for me — literally and figuratively. Thanks to a suggestion from Mom, I named you Keaton, after the eldest son on my all-time favorite TV show. You didn’t share Alex P. Keaton’s love of money, but it would have made perfect sense if you had, because boy, did you enrich my life. For five-plus years you were one of the greatest gifts imaginable. Then, out of nowhere, feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) reared its ugly, fatal face. You were only 5 years old, dammit! FIP, a viral disease, snuffed your light much too soon, and today — and for many, many days to come — I’m heartbroken because of it. Your run lasted less time than your namesake’s sitcom. How is that fair? You died on Mom’s birthday, six years to the day that Prime, a cat I loved with all my heart — a cat you never had the fortune to meet — died on Mom’s birthday. HOW IS THAT EFFING FAIR?

Never again will you climb on Mom’s shoulders and chew her hair, which you did as a kitten. Never again will you entertain yourself with an empty 12-pack soda container, treating it as your own Chunnel. Never again — and, oh, how it hurts me to know this — will you lovingly accept my knuckle-rubs to your forehead and cheeks. Tummy rubs were off-limits, as the blood-drawing scratches up and down my arms proved on multiple occasions, but knuckle-rubs elicited prolonged purrs that made me know you were content. By extension, I was content.

Today, however, contentment breathes in theory only. Despite the calendar’s insistence that we’re in the dog days of summer, Aug. 2 is the opening day of the winter of my discontent. I miss you with the gravity and depth with which I loved you.

Keaton, you upheld some of the cat stereotypes: aloof, skittish, independent. Yet you always enjoyed my company, and I yours. You were my laid-back buddy, and you’ve left me too soon, and left me too raw.

In time, I’ll manage to focus on the good times, the funny times. The times you hopped up onto the handrail at the bottom of the stairs, standing so still I figured you were doing sentry duty or mimicking a gargoyle. The times you slept in the sink, contorting your body to match the scallop-shaped basin. The times you perched atop the refrigerator, looking down on us. You were king. You knew it. I knew it. Hell, the ancient Egyptians knew it. Talk about a wise civilization.

The ancient Egyptians would have loved you, Keaton, and not just because you had the softest, smoothest fur imaginable. (Ask anyone who had the fortune to pet you; they’ll confirm it.) Family ties (and empty boxes) were enough to make you happy. You were the young pup, so to speak, when Marsh and Khalid accepted you. You were the elder statesman when Willow and Dickens arrived … and yet you still refused to stand your ground at dinner time, when Dickens would nudge you away from your dish after wolfing down the contents in his. Then again, you didn’t eat out of a dish regularly. You enjoyed your dry food (especially the treats) and the occasional dairy offering, but we struggled to get you to eat canned food. Those struggles inspired Mom’s good-natured, insincere ditty:

Keaton’s … gonna get a beatin’ / ‘Cause he’s not eatin’ … wet food!

You were finicky, Keaton. You were nosy too, but not noisy … unless you were in the litter box. You dug and dug and dug (were you trying to get to China?), and when business was done, you exited like a madman, litter flying in every direction. I always thought, Relax and poop, Keaton. Relax and poop.

You relaxed, of course, but not in the litter box. You were at your most serene when you were on my chest, keeping me warm as I watched TV or slept during Connecticut’s biting winters, or when you were in the cat pen we built and attached to the back of the house. Your favorite times to be in the pen were early morning and late evening. It was quieter then, and taking after your introverted owner, you preferred stillness and solitude to bustle and crowds.

Nap time brought relaxation too, though often I was unsure if you were sleeping or doing a Playcat photo shoot. The provocative poses you struck, unwittingly, are burned into my memory banks. I’ll look on them with fondness someday. But not today. The hurt and sadness overwhelm me. You always had a serious facial expression, Keaton, as if you were contemplating the meaning of life, which is what I’m doing today. I’m questioning a lot of things. Love. Loss. Fairness. Faith.

It seems the only time I’m certain I have a beating heart is when it aches. No balms, bandages or splints can ease my pain or soothe my sorrow. What can? Time? I don’t want to wait for time. I want you, Keaton. I love you. I miss you. I hope beyond hope that you’re in a better place. This place, sans you, sucks.


Killing Me Softly With His Wrong

Come closer. I want to whisper to you. Softly. The passage pictured is from Murder By Mocha, a "Coffeehouse Mystery" book my mother read. The biggest mystery — to this editor, anyway — is the one brewing on the opening page of Chapter 21. Allow me to bring it to light.

How is that living room lit? Softly?


I'm seeing "softly lit" in a new light. The l has alit from the page, leaving us with a "softy lit" room, to the horror of English lit majors everywhere.

Next time, seek softly and bury a big sic*. Otherwise, I will impose swift and severe punishment. Oh, whom am I kidding? I'm a big softy.

*Sic – a Latin adverb used to indicate that erroneous material has been intentionally written as it originally appeared. Sic is usually italicized and placed in brackets or parentheses.

Example: For unknown reasons, the student's G-rated sign, which read "WE'RE BETTER THEN [sic] YOU," was confiscated by arena security.

Explanation: The "[sic]" above is used to let the reader know that the sign should have read "WE'RE BETTER THAN YOU."

I'd like to thank my mom for sharing today's typo. I'd also like to take a moment to wish her a very happy birthday. She turns [number deleted] today. I love you, Mom. Your [sic] the best! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!