Monday, December 29, 2014

Kry Havoc

No, he didn’t.

LeBron James, like Charles Barkley in his autobiography, has been misquoted. He called the Cleveland Cavaliers’ offense “Kyrie’s show,” in reference to point guard Kyrie Irving. Don’t blame James for that Kyrie-diculous spelling.

The sports fan in me likes an offense that attacks. The editor in me likes to attack a poor offense. It’s a Kry-ing shame that Kyrie is a no-show. When Kryie crystallized, I realized the writer had, albeit unknowingly, falsely reported an incident. This Cavalier offense cannot go unpunished.

The writer went awry when he went with a ry. It’s imperative that I remedy this situation, because “Kyrie’s show” must go on. Fortunately, an idea just popped into my head. I’ll transpose the second and third letters to ring in a new yr.

That ry bred? It’s toast.

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Good Year to Die Hard

Is Die Hard the best Christmas movie? Heck, is Die Hard even a Christmas movie? It’s set at Christmastime, though I don’t consider it a Christmas movie per se. You have every right to categorize it as such. We can quibble about that later. What’s not up for debate, however, is the year this Christmas/action movie came out.

July, not December, may have been the most wonderful time of the year in 1988, because that’s when John McClane first traveled from New York to L.A. to visit his estranged wife, only to become knee-deep in holiday hell on the 30th floor of the Nakatomi building.

Take a long, Die Hard look at the teaser for a Moviefone article about the crème de la Christmas crème. To borrow a line from a popular carol: Do you see what I see? That bad date needs to undergo a digital revolution. An 8 took off faster than a woman under the mistletoe when I approach.

The years 1988 and 1998 are as different as Windows 2.1 and Windows 98. Nelson Mandela was imprisoned in 1988. A decade later he was president. Michael Jordan had zero NBA titles in 1988. He won his sixth in 1998.

Don’t dress your movie date to the nines. You may think she looks sexy, but all I see is an ugly Christmas sweater. That second 9, in true McClane fashion, is a fly in the ointment, the monkey in the wrench, the pain in the ass.

Drop it like it’s Hans.

In the spirit of the season, I’d like to present my lists of favorite Christmas movies (i.e., joy to the world, good will toward men) and favorite movies set at Christmas (i.e., blow up the world, kill bad men). Enjoy.

Owen’s Favorite Christmas Movies
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
A Christmas Carol (1951)
Home Alone
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
The Santa Clause

Owen’s Favorite Movies Set at Christmas
Die Hard
The Bourne Identity
Enemy of the State
Lethal Weapon
Die Hard 2

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a yippee-ki-yay…

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Errors in Avicii's Vicinity

Stop the music! This photo caption could use some EMT-like treatment. It has suffered a couple of ill-timed maladies.

Something’s missing on the 11th line. A t goes before –goers. It comes before g, the way harp music and a wavy dissolve come before a dream sequence in old sitcoms. Alas, like an understated performance at a KISS concert, it can’t be found. Why did it end up on the cutting room floor?

Speaking of floors…

Avicii, we’re informed, performed for a sold-out floor. Strange. Does a floor have ears? Can it appreciate music, Swedish electronic or otherwise? And, perhaps most important, are the acoustics better if a musician performs for walls and a ceiling too? The arena’s floor seats may have sold out, but the show was performed in front of a sold-out crowd.

I’m floored that the writer and the editor — working in concert, I imagine — failed to spot these two recording errors. It should have been easy. Much easier than, say, getting certain songs out of your head.

Don’t tell my heart, my achy breaky heart
I just don’t think he’d understand
And if you tell my heart, my achy breaky heart
He might blow up and kill this man

By now, the earworm has burrowed deep into the crevices of your brain, probably somewhere in the right frontal lobe. You’re welcome, readers.

Monday, December 15, 2014


Behold! You’ve never seen the likes of this before. A portion of this sentence, split between columns in an old Sports Illustrated article, is reminiscent of middle school kids attempting to calculate — the way only middle school kids can — the level of ardor a classmate has for a friend. So, do you like him, or do you like like him? On the inexact scale of affection, “like like” sits between like and love and is akin to a crush. This slangy doubling down, so to speak, is a form of reduplication. A word is purposefully repeated, and the first occurrence is emphasized as a way to indicate a “true” sense of the word and resolve any ambiguity.

This device is more popular than you may realize. It’s been employed, for example, in scenes from a couple of popular sitcoms. In “The Doodle,” an episode from Seinfeld’s sixth season, George is dating Paula, a woman in Elaine’s drawing class at The New School. He finds a doodle Paula did of him in which he “looks like a troll.” This worries George, so he asks Elaine to play the part of inquisitive schoolgirl and find out, at her next drawing class, if Paula likes him.

Elaine: Hey, Paula, I hear you’ve been going out with George Costanza.

Paula: How did you know?

Elaine: Everybody knows. You know, George told me he thinks you’re totally cute and everything.

Paula: He said that?

Elaine [nodding]: Do you like George?

Paula: Yeah! He’s cool.

Elaine: No, I mean … do you like him, or do you like him like him?

Paula: Like like. Looks aren’t that important to me, you know?

In a 2008 episode of The Big Bang Theory called “The Lizard-Spock Expansion,” Leonard dates Stephanie, a girl his pal Howard picked up in a bar by telling her he could sneak her into the Mars Rover control room and she could operate the $200 million government project. When Leonard, an experimental physicist, runs into his neighbor Penny in the apartment building’s laundry room, their conversation goes like this:

Penny: Oh, hey.

Leonard: Hey.

Penny: New shirts?

Leonard: Yeah, a couple.

Penny: Nice.

Leonard:  Thank you.

Penny: So, who’s the girl?

Leonard: I’m sorry?

Penny: Well, last time you bought a new shirt was when we were dating.

Leonard: So, uh, what we did was in fact dating?

Penny: Well, yeah, we did have a date.

Leonard: Exactly. Thank you. Do me a favor: Tell Koothrappali that next time you see him.

Penny: So, who is she?

Leonard: Oh, she’s a doctor.

Penny: Oh, nice. A doctor doctor, or a you kind of doctor?

Leonard: Doctor doctor. Surgical resident. Smart, pretty.

The linguistic use of stressed repetition isn’t confined to sitcoms, of course. The punch line of a 2007 Zits comic also was, ahem, down with reduplication.


In 2009, shortly after Roman Polanski was arrested in Switzerland at the request of U.S. authorities, Whoopi Goldberg created a maelstrom when she resorted to reduplication on The View while trying to characterize what the film director did to a 13-year-old girl in 1977. “I don’t believe it was rape rape,” she said.

Here are some other, less incendiary examples:

Are you going to read an e-book or a book book?

We’re taking that thing out on the water? When I agreed to go sailing, I thought we’d be on a boat boat.

 Let’s go out for dinner.
OK, how about McDonald’s?
No, I want to go to a restaurant restaurant.

 I’m a writer.
Nice. How many books have you had published?
None. I write blog posts.
Oh, so you’re not a writer writer.

 Ouch! I scratched my knee.
Oh, suck it up! You didn’t get hurt hurt.

 It was just a couple of friends having dinner together. It wasn’t a date date.

 He kissed you? Was it a peck on the cheek or a kiss kiss?

I hope you enjoyed today’s post. If you disliked it, I understand, but if you disliked disliked it, I don’t want to know.

Thursday, December 11, 2014


“She she”?


Hey! This is no laughing matter! Only one woman can stay in this relationship. She needs to leave. Take her away. Protests be damned, I cannot recognize this particular same-sex marriage. Who’s with me? Who else would like to see she go sell seashells by the seashore? She loves me, but I love she not.

“She she”?


Monday, December 8, 2014

Attendance Is Mandatory

Last December my brother and I attended the National Football Foundation’s 56th annual awards dinner at the Waldorf Astoria on Park Avenue in Manhattan. My brother wanted to see his favorite athlete, former University of Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel, get inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

On the train ride home from the Big Apple that evening, I flipped through the 180-page dinner program, and I thought about a trio that, at first glance, had nothing in common: Michael Irvin, Taylor Swift and Steve Kerr.

At Philadelphia’s Veterans Stadium in October 1999, two Philadelphia Eagles defenders hit Irvin, a Dallas Cowboys wide receiver, after he made a first-quarter catch. Irvin lay motionless on the artificial turf. When it was apparent he wouldn’t get up, thousands of fans cheered loudly. Paramedics fitted Irvin with a neck brace, and fans booed as he rolled on a stretcher to an ambulance. Irvin suffered swelling in the spinal cord on the play, which turned out to be the final one of his Hall of Fame career.

Nearly a decade later, in September 2009, Swift was making an acceptance speech for Best Female Video at the MTV Video Music Awards when Kanye West hopped on stage, grabbed the microphone and told the 19-year-old — and the world — that Beyoncé had “one of the best videos of all time,” insinuating that she should have won the VMA. He then handed the mic to a stunned Swift and exited the stage, his protest complete.

During warm-ups at a college basketball game in Tempe, Arizona, in February 1988, a small group of Arizona State fans chanted “P-L-O! P-L-O!” and “Where’s your dad?” at Kerr, a guard for Arizona. Kerr’s father, the president of the American University of Beirut, was assassinated outside his office by two Islamic Jihad gunmen in 1984.

Cheering when an injured opponent lies motionless? Interrupting a young woman’s acceptance speech? Taunting a young man about an act of terrorism that took his father’s life? Classless, classless, classless!

Omitting a letter from a simple, one-syllable word? Class-less.

Check out the second word of the fifth fact in the image above. That’s one Hall of an error. It could use some refinement, in the editing sense, to create some refinement, in the elegance interpretation. We can right that failure — and cultivate style — by showing some character. This character: l.

The return of that truant letter would add a touch of class to the Hall of Fame program.

L cut class, but my brother and I were present, nattily attired.
Clothes make the man. Letters make the word. Dress appropriately. Spell appropriately.

By the way, what is it with football and the 12th letter of the alphabet? Six months after that awards dinner, the NFL announced that the official logo for the 50th Super Bowl, to be held in 2016, would be Super Bowl 50, breaking from the tradition of using Roman numerals. So much for Super Bowl L. This is disappointing news for anyone other than fans of the Buffalo Bills or Minnesota Vikings, who have witnessed too many Super Bowl L’s already. Zing!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Q & Away

Q: Where’s Q?
A: I don’t know. He must have dropped out of college.

Q: Unacceptable! Where the hell is he?
A: Hey! Mind your p’s and q’s.

Q: That’s what I’m trying to do. P is where he should be, in DEPAUL, yet Q has been dropped like Jeeves.
A: I don’t get the reference.

Q: Ask
A: Um, OK.

Q: We’re getting off topic. Where did Q go?
A: Perhaps he got stuck in a long queue.

Q: Oh, hilarrrrrious.
A: I thought so.

Q: M-A-R-U? Are you serious?
A: Are you going to let this go?

Q: No. Where, I ask again, is Q?
A: I. Don’t. Know. Fact is, he’s gone, like the ink in a dried-out Bic pen. Yet you don’t seem convinced. You’re vigorously scribbling all over the proverbial page, pressing harder with each attempt. Accept it: Q, like the ink, is gone, and he’s not coming back.

Q: He must come back! MARQUETTE is incomplete without him. I will look for him.
A: Whatever. You’re not going to find him. You’d have better luck eating a bag of Doritos without getting orange cheese dust on your fingers.

Q: Stop being such a pessimist. I will find him! I will search the ends of the earth if that’s what it takes.
A: Don’t you think you’re being a tad melodramatic?

Q: Sorry. I can’t seem to escape my past as an actor on a telenovela.
A: ¡Dios mío!

Q: I’ve got to run. My search begins. One more thing, though: Do you think this post will garner a strong Q rating?
A: Undoubtedly! It merits widespread recognition. Acclaim is forthcoming. Soon we’ll be seeing it mentioned on maruees from coast to coast.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Floating on Error

The photo at the heart of the 2012 film The Lucky One, an adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks romance novel, shows a mysterious woman. The photo at the heart of today’s post shows a mysteriously named woman.

Our streak of bad l-l-luck begins on the fifth line, where I was asked to track down a lofty lowercase letter. It had come to my attention that there was an l floating around here somewhere.

Oh, there it is.

Wait, it’s over there.

No, it’s over there.

What the l is going on?

The l’s swelled. An extra one — The Unlucky One — is chilling in Schilling. The actress’ last name was Taylor-made for twin l’s, but someone tripped up and fashioned triplets.

When it came to spelling Schilling, the caption writer missed the boat. That’s my two cents’ worth. Actually, that’s my 12 pence worth.

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Crayz Spelling

As a rule of thumb, the longer the word, the less glaring the spelling error. Misspell, say, colloquialism, and folks might not even notice. Butcher a four-letter word, however, and like an active submarine, you’ll be in deep water.

An error of such magnitude occurred Sept. 16, 2006. In a football game that day, Navy defeated Stanford 37-9. Late in the game, with the Midshipmen firmly in front, Navy’s coach sent in his backup kicker, Matthew Harmon, to attempt a 30-yard field goal.

Harmon, a sophomore, did his job, making his first collegiate field goal, but whoever made his uniform Navy blew it. The right letters were on active duty, but like an ensign swearing at an admiral, they were out of order.

Navy would have been wise to enlist an editor. What am I saying? No need to hire professional help. A 10-year-old could have told the team that NAYV, even though it sort of works if you sound it out, is a rank spelling.

NAYV? Nay. NAVY? Yes, I can put my mind at ease.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Only One

In basketball, turnovers often result in points for the opposition. In this newspaper blurb, “GOOD TURNOVERS leads me to a single point, one I learned long ago: We only need only once.

Can we drop one only faster than pants in a proctologists office?

If only!

Monday, November 17, 2014

An Incorrect Head Count

Allow me to briefly set the scene. It’s a Sunday. We’re in a busy newspaper office, less than 30 minutes before the paper goes to press. A couple of writers are at a small, cluttered desk. One is seated; the other is standing. And … go!

AP reporter: Hey, man, I finished my article on the Pats-Falcons game. The key elements to consider when you write the headline are New England’s victory and Brady’s two scores.

Headline writer: Patriots won the game, and Brady threw two touchdowns. Got it.

APR: Do you? I don’t mean to be a jerk, but you have written some head-scratching headlines in the past. The ones that stand out are

One-arm man applauds the kindness of strangers
Tight end returns after colon surgery
Republicans turned off by size of Obama’s package
Lady Jacks off to hot start in conference
A-Rod goes deep, Wang hurt
Puerto Rican teen named mistress of the universe
Bush asks nation for patients
Missippi’s literacy program shows improvement
Astronaut Neil Young, first man to walk on moon, dies at age 82
Homicide victims rarely talk to police*

I hate to bring those up, but I’m a stickler for accuracy, and I’d prefer to avoid any unintentional humor.

HW: Wow! Way to dredge up the past, man. Stop worrying. I’ll write a headline that makes it clear New England won the game and Brady was the catalyst, with his two TDs.

APR: Great. Thanks. If you come up with something compelling, it’ll draw more readers. Try using the active voice. Strong verbs are a must.

HW: Hey, give me some credit. I know how to write a headline. It’s a skill, and I possess that skill. I am an ar-teest.

APR: Sorry, didn’t mean to insinuate otherwise. I’m sure you’ll come up with something catchy. Speaking of catches, two New England receivers caught passes in the end zone from Brady. How ‘bout “Brady throws 2 TDs in Patriots’ victory over Falcons”? That’d be a pretty good headline.

HW: Not bad. I’ll consider it. I do like how it includes the vital information.

APR: Yeah. All headlines should grab readers’ attention. They should be simple, direct and, most important, accurate.

HW: So true. We’d look really silly, for example, if we spelled Brady’s name incorrectly or stated that Atlanta won or mistakenly credited Brady with an extra TD.

APR: Tell me about it. That’s not a concern for us though. The first two sentences of my article clearly present the correct spelling of Brady, the winner of the game and Brady’s total touchdowns. Let that be your guide.

HW: Yep, no worries. We’ve got this.

APR: We do. You know, I’ve been thinking about it, and you really should try to work in Brady’s TD total. He is the headliner, after all. As you know, he threw two. If you think you might forget, I have an easy way to remember. Pretend you’re a football team down eight in the final minute and you’ve just scored a touchdown. What do you do? You go for 2.

HW: Thanks for the suggestion. I won’t need any sort of mnemonic device though. I know he scored three TDs.

APR: No. He scored two, not three.

HW: Yeah, right, right. I meant two. Just misspoke.

APR: OK. Well, I have to run. I’ll see you tomorrow.

HW: See ya.

Allow me to briefly set the scene. We’re in the same newspaper office, early the following day. The same two writers are stationed around the same small desk. And … go!

HW: Our paper made the headlines last night.

APR: Yeah, Owen told me. Give Brady one extra touchdown pass and the world wants to pass judgment.

HW: Well, our paper does strive for accuracy. We blew it. Have to move on. So, what do you think of this headline for tomorrow’s paper: “Writer tosses accuracy aside, headline uses ‘3’”?

APR: Not bad. Could go in that direction, or we could use “Brady credited with extra TD, writer embarrassed.”

HW: Appropriate. I am embarrassed by yesterday’s headline.

APR: That makes three of us.

HW: Don’t you mean “two”?

APR: Ah, whatever!

* Editors note: All 10 headlines listed are authentic. Go ahead, Google em!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Eight Is Not Enough

Oh, Canada. 

Scorekeeper, we have a problem. If you close to within 11 points and then get outscored by eight, you trail by 19 points. (It’s a simple calculation: 11+8=19) Yet the score is 42-21, which is a 21-point deficit. To settle this international dispute, we need to hang 10 on the sixth line. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Things to Do

In the 2013 teen sex comedy The To Do List, Aubrey Plaza plays Brandy Klark, who makes a list of college objectives to be ticked. I’m ticked about her list — and about the movie title it mimics.

Allow me to assist Brandy, a valedictorian who should have known something was missed in her list. I’ll insert a hyphen and — ta-da — ugly The To Do List turns into beautiful The To-Do List.

In the film’s title, “to do” is a compound modifier, also known as a compound adjective. A compound modifier, which is two or more words that together form an adjective, generally requires a hyphen when it comes before a noun. Examples include:

six-page article
well-known actor
17-year-old girl
smoke-free restaurant
cold-blooded killer
run-of-the-mill argument
much-needed hyphen

Let’s take a look at two sentences containing compound modifiers.

A man eating shark attacked a surfer in Australia.

The small business owner applied for a loan.

As written, the subject of the first sentence is a man dining on shark meat. The second sentence is about a business owner who is not big.

After inserting hyphens, however, we get the following:

A man-eating shark attacked a surfer in Australia.

The small-business owner applied for a loan.

Now it’s clear that a shark attacked a surfer, and that the owner of a small business applied for a loan. The hyphens show that man-eating and small-business express single concepts.

Let’s revisit the title of the film. To modifies do, and together they form a single adjective modifying the noun list. It’s not a “to list”; it’s not a “do list.” It’s a “to-do list.” To make sense, to and do must work closely. The hyphen connects them.

Some may argue that omitting the hyphen causes no ambiguity — that the meaning is understood with or without it. I disagree. I’m a hyphen fan. (A hyphenatic?) In this instance, to and do must be read as a unit to have meaning, and the hyphen allows for a “smoother” read. The lack of a hyphen could momentarily impair readability, causing a person to backtrack to make sense of what he’s just read. Critics claim hyphens are overused in compound modifiers before a noun. I believe such hyphens will never inhibit clarity, but their absence could result in confusion. How, then, can including one on a “to-do list” be a bad thing to do?

Exceptions exist, of course. Two-word noun phrases that are familiar as a single term are usually written sans hyphens.  Examples include:

real estate agent
social media marketing
home run hitter
civil rights movement

Without hyphens, meaning remains clear. Nobody would misread those four compound modifiers. That is why a high school student can be in a high-speed chase.

Of all the punctuation marks, the hyphen seems to have the fewest standards. Its use is often a matter of taste, of style. I prefer to avoid any perceived ambiguity, so more hyphens are my style. Disagree? We can have a last-minute discussion about this hot-button issue. We can’t, however, have a last minute discussion about this hot button issue.

I apologize for making such a big to-do about hyphens. Its time to proceed with a laundry list of additional complaints about a certain movie lacking a hyphen. The To Do List establishes Brandy’s strong academic pedigree by showing one award after the other during the opening credits. Well, next on my to-do list is to add a letter to her 1985 certificate. EXCELENCE would excel with an additional L.

I have to repeat the previous task, because the same error pops up on a subsequent certificate, and I’m committed to EXCELLENCE.

The 1989 certificate, it turns out, excels at misspellings. It hasn’t achieved EXCELLENCE ... or ACHIEVED. What’s with the aggrieved ACHIEVED? I should see I before E, except that’s not what I see.

The final entry on my to-do list is to fix ACHEIVEMENT. Transpose the second and third vowels and, just like that, we have reached an ACHIEVEMENT. That’s quite a feat.

All our tasks have been accomplished. √


Anybody out there like me? When composing to-do lists, I sometimes include simple tasks just for the ensuing satisfaction. This, for example, is what one of last week’s lists looked like before I attacked it:

By 10 a.m. I had already crossed off the first six items. I had accomplished so much so soon!

Thursday, November 6, 2014


The National Football League, a multibillion-dollar petri dish for domestic violence cases and CTE concerns and nickname controversies, may be flawed, but it isn’t the only LEAGUE in need of remedy.

The pictured NFL sign, which contains a FLAWED and a flaw, needs fixed lettering. Its third word kicks off with a Goodell … er, a good L. E and A play nicely, too. The trouble begins with U, which cut in front of G the way a cornerback jumps a pass route. U, like forces, strings or spots, goes after the G.

UG? Ugh. Stick to GU.

Monday, November 3, 2014

A Maliboo-boo

Beautiful beachfronts. Blue bloods. Balmy breezes. Barbie. Breathtaking bluffs. Broad Beach. Bronzed bodies. Beach Blanket Bingo. Bikinied blondes (and brunettes). Barbra and Bob. And 20 tons of beached blubber.

B’s abound in Malibu, an enclave for well-heeled individuals west of Los Angeles. But only one B inhabits Malibu. Usually. Somehow, an extra one has washed up at the intersection of B and U. This was not meant “two B.” We’re witnessing a rare case of Malibu malformation, and I need to do a whale of a job coming up with a solution. What to do? What … to … do?

I’ve got it! Hand me that khaki-colored uniform and broad-brimmed hat. We’re in Malibu, near the Pacific Coast Highway, so I’m going to pose as a California Highway Patrol officer and let the CHiPs fall where they may. Here I go. Don’t blow my cover.

[Slowly removing my shades and assuming my best Erik Estrada impersonation] Do you realize how vast you were going? You went above the keyed limit … by one letter. That’s a minor graphic violation. I’ll let you go with a warning if you promise to get back on the PCH, leave Malibu and immediately dispose of that second B. Haul its carcass out of here. It’s like an inexpensive beachfront home — it doesn’t belong in the ‘Bu.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Pumpkin Fake

An unusual presence inside Walmart spooked my Halloween-obsessed friend Lindsay, of IAMNOTASTALKER, last month. She saw these “watermelons” in Palm Desert, California, and knew right away that something was fishier than the breath of a witch’s cat. Instead of chunkin’ that rotten sign, though, she snapped a photo and sent it my way, knowing I’d be capable of coming up with a pumpkin patch. Thanks, Lindsay!

That sign may contain watermelon, but it does not hold water. Instead, it has produced mislabeled produce.

You’re out of your gourd, Walmart, if you think those are watermelons. You feel me?

Good. You should.

A watermelon is a large melon, and the term pumpkin comes from the Greek work pepon, meaning “large melon,” but a watermelon is not a pumpkin. Watermelons are oblong fruits with hard green or white rinds. Pumpkins are spherical orange fruits. Both are grow-on-a-vine, seed-producing members of the gourd family, but it’s not like they’re bananas and plantains, peaches and nectarines, Mary Kate and Ashley — everyone should be able to tell them apart.

It’s time to make a change that will bear fruit (that can become jack-o’-lanterns), Walmart. Be certain the first two words on that eerie sign mimic Cinderella’s horse-drawn carriage at the stroke of midnight.

My cats, Willow and Dickens, would like to wish everyone
a Happy Halloween. Eat (pumpkin), drink and be scary!

Monday, October 27, 2014

House Doctored

It’s close to midnight, and something evil’s lurking in the dark.

Does the house at 1345 Carroll Ave. in Los Angeles look familiar? It may, because in October 1983 it was a setting for what is arguably the most famous music video of all time. In the 13-minute video for his hit “Thriller,” Michael Jackson, wearing blood-red pants and a matching jacket to “dye” for, raised his arms from side to side, hands clawed, as his backup zombie dancers did the same. His frightened girlfriend fled to an abandoned house — this house.

Three years after securing permanent residency in the pop culture world, the house sold for $150,000. The following year, it was built.

You see a sight that almost stops your heart. 
You try to scream, but terror takes the sound before you make it.

According to Zillow, an online real estate database, the Victorian home was built four years after appearing in the video that made it famous, and it sold a year before its fabrication date. (Those last two words can be interpreted in one of two ways.) No realtor is that talented!

You close your eyes, and hope that this is just imagination.

The house is assuredly not the same age as Blake Lively, the Fox network, GIFs, Full House and everyone’s favorite purple dinosaur, Barney. It was built well before “Baby Jessica” fell in a well.

I’ll save you from the terror on the screen.

The house was not erected two years after the failure of “New Coke,” back when Michael Jackson was Bad. This dwelling was built in the 19th century, so why don’t we, ahem, dwell in the past? Travel with me back to the Gilded Age, to a time when only 38 states existed and to a year when Georgia O’Keeffe and Frankenstein’s monster himself, Boris Karloff, graced Earth’s canvas. It was a world without escalators, zippers, airplanes, traffic lights, aspirin, Australia, the Eiffel Tower or motion pictures, though Coca-Cola had poured into our lives the year before.

No nines should reside in Zillow’s “built” date. It’s time to ring in a new year, with assistance from an old year. Your time is now, 1887.

Thank you to my friend Lindsay, of IAMNOTASTALKER, for notifying me of today’s uninvited houseguest. The error thrilled me ... to death!

‘Cause this is thriller, thriller night!

I took this 2008 photo of 1345 Carroll Ave. 21 121 years after the house was built.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Monday, October 20, 2014

On Shaky Ground

Months ago my brother sent me a link to an article about an upheaval of sorts during a live TV weather report. The article may have been proofread, though no proof exists.

In the midst of a 4.2 magnitude earthquake, the meteorologist managed to get rick back to the forecast. I have so many questions: Who is rick? Why doesn’t he spell his name with a capital letter? Why did he need to get back to the forecast?

Oh, right: rick is wrong. That rickety word would be correct if it were right. Unfortunately, it’s in the right place at the wrong time.

At least that was the only mista—

Whoa! What’s up with woah? That h is making like a galloping horse. I know of an exclamation that may make it stop. If I use it, I’ll place the h in the second position. Why? Well, whoa is me.

We’re not out of the (trembling) woods yet, readers. Errors are being generated faster than seismic waves during a temblor. Check out the last sentence. The contributor scarred one of the words, I’m afraid.

I don’t heart sacred. I wish I could force it to sit next to Pennywise and watch Final Destination aboard a dark cabin filled with snakes during a turbulent flight over shark-infested waters, because that hallowed word should be scared.

A sturdy table or desk can shelter you during palpitation. An editor can do the same, in a sense, during publication. All the errors in this article were, like a 4.2 magnitude earthquake, detectable to the average person — but two of the three would have circumvented spell check. That program has more faults than an area prone to Richter scale readings.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Hump Day, Dump Date

The trick is making sure all identical dates match. The treat is blogging about them when they don’t.

Memo to TV Guide: Check your calendar. Or check mine.

In its 2014 Halloween Preview — a “guide to the holiday’s creepiest offerings” — TV Guide shared scary fare, or posed its Calendar Ghouls, if you will. Anyway, the three episode summaries seen here strike error, not terror, into TV Guide readers.

Melissa & Joey airs on Wednesday, Oct. 22. Baby Daddy airs on Wednesday, Oct. 22. Modern Family — a personal favorite — airs on Wednesday, Oct. … 23?


That’s like reciting at a play and playing at a recital — it makes no sense.

When I got to the Modern Family recap at the end of this particular fright night of programming, I expected to catch 22*. Instead, I found a weekday with a weak date.

Try to watch the new episode of Modern Family on Wednesday, Oct. 23. You’ll have more trouble than Dracula dining at The Stinking Rose.

I refuse to accept this material, as I would a witch, warts and all. It’s my duty to cope with the terror on the erred line. Modern Family must be brought up to date, of corpse!

Twenty-three, skidoo!
* Actually, I should have been seeking a 29. A new episode of Modern Family airs on the 22nd, but the holiday special, titled "Halloween 3: AwesomeLand," is a week later.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Drop Dead, Date

Wrong. So, so wrong. Almost seven years wrong, to be exact.

In Sports Illustrated’s 60th anniversary issue, the date (April 26, 1982) listed for an old Tony Mandarich issue wasn’t even close. Sports Illustrated overinflated the day and underinflated the year.

You can’t judge a book by its cover. Mandarich’s career provides marrow to that idiom’s backbone. Back in the late ‘80s, the colossal man looked like the perfect offensive lineman specimen, so the Green Bay Packers took him second overall in the 1989 NFL draft. Mandarich started 63 games over six nondescript seasons before his career fizzled. For comparison’s sake, the other four players drafted in the top five that year (Troy Aikman, Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas, Deion Sanders) are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. You can, however, judge an old magazine by its cover date. The date of the Mandarich Sports Illustrated issue, shown below, is April 24, 1989. It’s in the upper right. You can’t miss it.

And yet SI did miss it — by this* much. The magazine, like “the best offensive line prospect ever,” fell far short of expectations.

On April 26, 1982, Mandarich was 15. It’s rare to come across a 6-foot-6-inch, 315-pound 15-year-old. Give a green boy nearly seven years to grow (and take steroids), however, and he can blossom into an incredible bulk.

* 6 years, 11 months, 29 days

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Blog the Bounty Hunter

Im offering a $10,000 bounty for Ed. Hes missing, and I fear he may have been injured as part of some scandalous scheme that offers payouts for knockouts.

Oh, when the Saints went marching in to games from 2009 to 2011, New Orleans targeted opposing players in an infamous bounty system. The target of todays post is design, which has had its -ed knocked off, helmet and all.

I doubt it was the writers design to make the design suffix suffer. No intentional harm done. It was more by accident than by design.

Monday, October 6, 2014

A Star Is Born

The baseball writer got off to a blazing start, bursting out of the batter’s box, shining like a star. He ran with purpose, as if he were being chased by a pack of voracious wolves. He picked up speed as he rounded third and headed for home, but he stumbled just before crossing the plate, falling on his noggin and seeing stars. The promising star imploded, a not-so-super nova.

Go to the end of the line (the one with got at the outset), and you’ll notice the end of the word could use a finishing touch. It’s the beginning of the end. Well, not quite. It’s the end of the start. The start of start merits a gold star. The end of start is startling. By failing to hitch a t to his star, the writer suffered a false start.

To make a fresh start, I say we add a t to star’s starboard side. With that, our star trek is complete, readers. I have finished what I stared, er, started.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Kiss -ing Goodbye

This newspaper article offers four tips to eliminate bacteria from totes. Unfortunately, the paper doesn’t use parallel structure, which is a kind of repetition using similar (or parallel) grammatical elements. The tips are presented by using the base form of a verb, in its present tense, in all spots — except one. To eliminate bacteria, we wash and clean and wrap and use and … avoiding.

To eliminate errors:

FREQUENTLY CHECK your work on your monitor.

CLEAN ALL AREAS where you place unnecessary endings.

AVOID LEAVING extra letters on a word’s trunk.

WHEN EDITING, examine the article closely before sending it to the printer, and use two eyes to identify mistakes.

To maintain rhythm, let’s stay away from avoiding, which is unnecessarily toting an –ing.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

North vs. South

Just do it … correctly.

In 2013 Nike created a shirt for the Carolina Panthers, an NFL team based in Charlotte, North Carolina. The black, short-sleeved shirt featured an NC and the team logo inside a state outline of Carolina. One problem: The outline was of South Carolina, not North Carolina.

The Panthers do represent both states. The team trains in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and played regular-season home games in Clemson, South Carolina, in its inaugural season (1995) before moving to Charlotte. The owner purposefully christened his team the Carolina Panthers (as opposed to the North Carolina Panthers or Charlotte Panthers) to appeal to people from both states and create a wider fan base. Still, Nike corrupted its slogan and just blew it. If you’re going to run one state’s outline on a Panthers shirt, it’s got to be the one referenced on the shirt — the one where the team literally plays. In other words, it states NC, so its state should be NC.

On the left sleeve is Nike’s familiar Swoosh, which resembles a check mark. An x would have been more appropriate, because the footwear and apparel giant got this one wrong. If Nike wants to make a shirt along these lines, how about one with an NY and a Giants (or Jets) logo in the state outline of New Jersey? That would, oddly enough, be accurate.

This isn’t the first time a problem has arisen involving the Carolinas, but it may be the first one that hit the shelves. Nike recalled the erroneous $32 T-shirt, but not before some were sold … and many were flipped on eBay for profits as large as a certain wild cat.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Nothing to Write Homes About

If you’ve attended elementary school or watched Sesame Street, you are likely familiar with the “What Doesn’t Belong?” game, which aims to boost classification and identification skills. Students (and Sesame Street viewers) are shown multiple items (usually four) and must identify the one that has no connection. Perhaps you recall the tune from Sesame Street’s “One of These Things” segments:

One of these things is not like the others
One of these things doesn’t belong
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time we finish our song?

Not ringing a bell? OK, I’ll share some examples. Good luck!

  1. Cat   /   Dog   /   Hamster   /   Gorilla
  2. Black   /   Helicopter   /   Red   /   Green
  3. Cowboys   /   Cubs   /   Dodgers   /   Yankees
  4. G   /   W   /   9   /   R
  5. Washington   /   Franklin   /   Nixon   /   Lincoln
  6. Grape   /   Shape   /   Cape   /   Truck
  7. Stephen   /   Roger   /   Billy   /   Alec
  8. Actor   /   Crate   /   React   /   Trace
  9. Vancouver   /   Montreal   /   Toronto   /   Seattle
  10. Subject   /   Verb   /   Preposition   /   Adjective
  11. Alps   /   Blade   /   Cheese   /   Miss
  12. Dasher   /   Comet   /   Cherub   /   Blitzen

Now that you’re familiar with the game, try to figure out one more:

Holmes   /   Homes   /   Holmes   /   Holmes

Did you get it?

All four look alike. But wait. Upon closer inspection, it’s clear that one Homes in this cookie-cutter development stands out, for the wrong reasons. Another letter should reside in that Homes. In this article about the madman who allegedly murdered 12 moviegoers in Colorado in 2012, all surname references should be Holmes, not Homes. That’s elementary, my dear readers.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Blame David

The damage inflicted today must be the work of a certain slingshot-toting underdog.

Using the editing talents God has given me, Ive peered beneath the armor and come face to face with a giant problem. It seems impossible to misspell Goliath. Then again, it seems impossible that a young man could defeat an imposing Philistine warrior.

Goliath has been struck down. Again.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Comma, Let's Celebrate!

The misuse. Of periods makes. It difficult to. Comprehend. What you’re reading. Commas placed, in the wrong spot are, also a cause for, concern. Many sentences require semicolons, they have commas instead. And don’t get me started on people who “incorrectly use” quotes or put a question mark at the end of a declarative sentence?

My exclamation point, and I do have one, is that punctuation is important. Instead of presenting a typical post today, I thought I’d let everyone know that Sept. 24 is National Punctuation Day — the 10th one, in fact.

Jeff Rubin created the holiday in 2004, and according to (yes, there is a website), it’s “a celebration of the lowly comma, correctly used quotation marks, and other proper uses of periods, semicolons, and the ever-mysterious ellipsis.”

In short, it’s a punctuation celebration — and I’m down wit’ NPD. So, let’s grab our trusty red pens and, well, paint the town red! I suggest we do some of the following today:

Watch a period piece.
Look for cereal commas in our Alpha-Bits.
Attend an MLB game, but only if Bartolo Colon is pitching.
Compete in a 100-meter dash.
Look up interrobang. (You’ve never heard of an interrobang? Say what‽)

Before we head out, allow me to punctuate today’s “punctuation matters” message with an assortment of humorous images I found online. Happy NPD!