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