Friday, January 31, 2014

An F Overflow

While searching the seven seas (actually, I was searching page 7C), I spotted today's run-of-the-mill misspelling. Like the report card of a terrible student, one word in the picture has too many F's.

Did you f-f-f-find it?

Of has run off with another f. That f runoff needs to effing get off of off.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Little R & R

Unless you're my brother or one of my college buddies, I'm guessing you were unable to find today's error, a word that is harboring an errant r. That's OK — I won't hold it against you.

An r? Before the y? Why the -ry? Something has gone awry.
It's Bobby McCray, not McCrary. I should know. You see, McCray played for my beloved Florida Gators. In fact, he was a senior on the team in 2003, which was my first year as a staff writer and copy editor at Gator Bait Magazine. I interviewed and wrote about him often that season, and I'm happy to report that not once did I misspell his name.

Notice? No second r in the accompanying caption ...
or stitched on the back of Bobby's jersey.

Monday, January 27, 2014

A Fine Line

When reading the newspaper, I save the best — the sports section — for last. And the last page I look at is the agate page. For those who aren’t familiar with the term, the agate page is the one chock full of sports minutia: league standings, box scores, transactions, TV listings, point spreads and so forth.

I spend a lot of time looking at the agate page. Too much, probably.

While looking over the fine print of this particular agate page with a fine-tooth comb, I found something that is not fine with me. In fact, it’s for the (flightless) birds.

The black-and-white issue is as follows: The person who wrote these NHL transactions laid an egg by having has been fined” waddle its way into our lives. This smirch of the Penguins’ Jordan Staal must stop, so let’s fine-tune this transaction. Here goes:

NHL – Fined Pittsburgh Penguins F Jordan Staal $2,500.

Ah, much better. We’ve finessed our way through this fine mess. What a difference a fine adjustment can make.

Have a fine day, readers!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Can It!

A chorus line of skirt-wearing, high-kicking ladies are performing a cancan, but I must cancel the dance routine. I've got breaking news: Upon canvassing this article excerpt, I've discovered that, like seven Pepsis in a six-pack, we have an extra can.

Did can show up twice in this sentence?

Can did.

I can count on one finger the number of can references we need in this sentence. So, can we kiss one can goodbye?

Can do.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Faulty Defense Mechanism

When the Seattle Seahawks defeated the San Francisco 49ers last Sunday, I switched channels. Immediately. I watch sports for the sports, not for the pregame hype, halftime spectacle or postgame analysis. Fortunately for When Write Is Wrong, my brother, Paul, stayed with the program.

Paul was ticked about a “verb” seen (and heard) almost exclusively in the sports community, so he threw the proverbial flag. The penalty? Illegal substitution.

Defensed, in this screen shot, is being used as a verb meaning defended. We already have a verb for that — it’s defended!

Defense should not be a verb, even though it’s a go-to term for many sportscasters and is listed in the dictionary as such. The verb was, is and always should be defend. Defense? As a verb? Indefensible!

My brother, in his postgame text, was more forthright in sharing his feelings about defense being a verb. His all-caps text read as follows: “IT’S NOT!!! IF A BILLION PEOPLE SAY OR DO A STUPID THING, IT’S STILL A STUPID F*CKING THING!!!”

As you can tell, my brother is not “on ‘defense’” about this issue. Paul’s annoyed. Paul’s angry. He should be. I am too, and I will be until defense rests — as a verb. I’ll continue, of course, to defend its dignified role as a noun.

The illegal substitution penalty backed us up five yards. Make it 10, because we have to add a five-yard false start penalty.

Check out the preprinted copy of the Daily News in the background.


When you come, bring a comma. You need one after YORK. The state is being directly addressed on the front page. When you address a person, place or thing, you set it off with a comma. Readers, here are some examples:

Richard Sherman, take off that hat and shirt.

Seattle, win the Super Bowl!

NFL, will you stop shoving Peyton Manning down our collective throats?

Readers, here are some examples.

(Did I mention that the headline is misleading, too? Sure, the Seahawks and Broncos are coming to the New York metropolitan area, but they’ll be on New Jersey soil when they play Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford.)

Today’s grammar lessons, like the 49ers and Patriots, are done, but I want to share a Super Bowl thought before I go:

GO SEAHAWKS! Shut down the Broncos in New Jersey as if they were Fort Lee lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge! (Nice analogy, huh, Gov. Christie?)

I’m not a Seattle fan, so why so passionate? I’ll be root-root-rooting hard for the Seahawks on Feb. 2 because I can’t pull for the Broncos. Excuse me, I’m contractually obligated to refer to Denver’s NFL franchise by its unofficial full name: Peyton Manning and the Broncos.

When the Seahawks win, it's about the team.

When the Broncos win, it's about Manning ... and the "team."

Alas, the Seahawks will be unable to buck “Peyton Manning and the Broncos.” The Seahawks, you see, celebrated too much for my liking after defeating the 49ers. To a man, Seahawks players will claim to be sufficiently motivated and ready to give 110 percent* on Groundhog Day. If that’s what they’re selling, I’m not buying. Following the win against San Francisco, they seemed overly enthused just to be in the Super Bowl, and I fear they’ll lack the hunger to make that final, important push. Don’t rejoice after running 26.1 miles. Don’t celebrate 50 feet from the summit of the mountain. Contentment impedes achievement.

I’m not downplaying Seattle’s victory against a strong San Francisco team. That was a big win, no doubt — but it wasn’t the big win. The goal of all 32 teams is to win the Super Bowl, not get to the Super Bowl. Thirty-one teams come up short, whether it’s far short (see: Dallas Cowboys) or just short (see soon: Seattle Seahawks).

Is a Super Bowl runner-up finish impressive? In a sense, sure. It’d also be very, very impressive if, hypothetically, I participated in a foot race with every U.S. citizen and finished second out of 317,397,858. Yet I’d still be a loser. I use that term not mean-spiritedly but definitively. If I gave everything I had, I’d be proud of my effort. But I wouldn’t label myself a winner, in a strictly interpretative sense of the word. I left 317,397,856 in the dust, but I inhaled the dry dirt particles of one — the victor. I was great … but someone was better. I finished second, and second hurts.

Photo by Ronald Martinez / Getty Images
Second place hurts more than third place, more than last place. If you get so close, you want to complete the task. You want to run that last tenth of a mile. You want to climb those final 50 feet. You want to win the ultimate game and claim ownership of the Lombardi Trophy.

Do you want to win, Seattle?

Do you?

I hope so, because number two is, well, sh*tty.

* I’m not a fan of hyperbole. When I hear a person say he’s going to give 
110 percent, I shudder. If you’re going to give 110 percent, it’s 110 percent of 90.91.

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Face-off

I'm always on the ookout for errors in every ook and cranny. I suppose that's how I came face to face with a typo in this USA Today article about trademark disputes between small businesses and large corporations.

Like many B movies, this paragraph lacks something. Oh, right, a b. What has become of the b that disappeared off the face of Facebook. Perhaps someone has posted a status update about this trademark infringement, which is a slap in the face to Facebook.

Let's face it: Today's post probably has the entrepreneurial dreamers out there thinking about starting their own social networking site called Faceook. I'd advise against that. If you try it, you can expect a cease-and-desist letter signed by Mark Zuckerberg and his team of high-priced lawyers. It's not worth the effort. About-face.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Extra Earnings

Spotting today's typo is akin to hitting the slow, fat kid in a game of dodgeball: too easy.

I'll give you a moment to find it. If it takes you any longer than, oh, 30 seconds, you've earned the right to be mocked.

Did you find the typo? It's a misspelled word, and it's right there, in the middle of the second sentence: eawrns. Eawrns? Really? I could understand an accidental learns or yearns, or even an eaarns or earrns resulting from an errant keystroke, but eawrns dumbfounds me.

What's with the wayward w? How did it wedge itself in where it doesn't belong? Until it earns its stripes, it has no place in earns. Like a small-bladdered travel companion 10 minutes into a long car ride, it has to go.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Comma Sutra

Sometimes, you know, people, um, overuse commas, which are punctuation marks, and that can be really, really annoying. That is the case today. This "Across the USA" blurb from an old issue of USA Today has only one comma, but it's one too many.

Commas are often necessary. They can create clarity; they can provide a brief pause.

We use them to separate items in a series...

I want to visit London, Seattle, Vancouver and Los Angeles.

We use them to separate independent clauses linked by a coordinating conjunction...

My brother and I went to a football game in Gainesville, and the Gators won 37-13.

We use them to set off nonessential clauses, phrases and words from the rest of the sentence...

Michael J. Fox, the actor who starred in Back to the Future, has Parkinson's disease.

Commas serve other purposes as well, though they are not used between the subject and the verb, as is the case here. If this were the way it worked, we'd have sentences like this:

He, loves pizza.

And this:

The attractive woman, took off her clothes.

These comma positions are outrageous, and this practice must be stopped. I'm going to look into getting a local affiliate of the ACLU to provide legal assistance in the case of Owen v. Comma Misuse.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Poor Motor Skills

Vroooom! Vroooom!

Today's error has my motor running. Not smoothly, unfortunately. I hear pinging and knocking, and that's when it's not sputtering. Let's pull into the nearest garage and see what's under the hood.

XADO Chemical Group ran a full-color, full-page ad in Motor Trend magazine to promote some sort of atomic metal conditioner that "rebuilds worn engine metal and protects your engine from future wear."

The company's innovative product "atomically rebuilds metal, reversing engine wear." This revitalization is a three-step process. Alas, the first two atomic steps are anatomically incorrect. We need to replace a couple of defective parts.

Step 1: Where I operate, surface is spelled with a u. This is only a superficial scratch. We should be able to buff it right out.

Step 2: This step is wrong from the beginning. Begin by removing a g. End by adding an n.

All it took was a bit of fine-tuning to fix our problems. The rebuilt engine is purring like a kitten, and my internal combustion has abated. It's time we put the pedal to the atomically rebuilt metal.

Before we give it some gas, however, allow me to present an innovative three-step process I've engineered that'll keep all engine-based ads running smoothly for 10 years or 20,000 miles — whichever comes first:

Step 1: Write your ad.

Step 2: Proofread your ad.

Step 3: Run your ad.

All engines go.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Of Interest

Hmm... That's interesting. But it shouldn't be. I'm interested to know why it isn't interested. Someone filled out the wrong interest form, and that conflict of interest drew my interest.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Run Thing Leads to Another

Allow me to run something by you. Take a look at the second sentence — the one beginning with Plucked, on the seventh line. It's about a Giants running back, and it's a giant run-on. The sentence keeps on churning, all the way to Bears on the 19th line. With some tweaking, we can have it up and running again. A simple solution would be to change that comma after Giants to a semicolon or, better still, place a period after Giants and capitalize the.

That's it for today. I've got to run.

Monday, January 6, 2014

A Whopper of an Error

If your Burger King Whopper were missing its flame-broiled beef patty, you'd notice. Do you notice anything missing from this article about the restaurant chain making changes in an effort to keep up with fast-food titans McDonald's and Wendy's?

I have a beef with a missing word on the first line. At what time? Oh, right — at a time. What happened to a? Was it dumped, much like "The Burger King," the disturbing character that was once a staple of BK commercials? You know the character I'm talking about, right? His plastic face had a permanent grin, and he popped up in the oddest places, never saying a word. He had to go. The word a, however, did not. Bring it back. "Have it your way," a certain slogan goes. Well, my way includes "comes at a time." I'd pay a King's ransom to get a back.

This BK is not OK. He's creepy!

Friday, January 3, 2014

A Mediate E

You're off to a slower start than the hare-racing tortoise if you spell the first word wrong — and it contains only two letters!

A voracious at ate an e. A person should be able to spell at with no e's — with ease. Set your high self-esteem aside, writer, and let e go. Did you hear me? I said lose the mediate e immediately.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Where There's a Will...

Get a drink. Please. I’ll wait. Before you get to the end of this paragraph, head to your refrigerator / wine cellar / liquor cabinet and grab your favorite adult beverage. Bud Light / Merlot / Smirnoff in hand? Great. Don’t imbibe just yet; this is no aperitif, to be enjoyed before sinking your teeth into today’s post. Set your beer can / wine glass / shot glass aside for the moment, but keep it within arm’s reach. We’re going to play a little drinking game. Every time you come across the word will from here on out, I want you to do a 12-ounce curl / take a big sip / down a shot. Until then, however, don’t touch that drink. That’s right: Bottoms down!

I’d like to take a minute, so just sit right there. I’ll tell you about the time I met the Prince of Bel Air.

Against my, I was forced by a friend to enter a sweepstakes to meet the Fresh Prince himself, Smith.

“Heads roll if you don’t enter the contest,” my friend said.

To keep heads firmly affixed to bodies, I did as instructed. Not that I expected to win. I never win. Well, not a week later, while swaying to a song by, I received a phone call from my friend. “You not believe this!” he screamed, before informing me that I was the grand-prize winner. The following Wednesday I was whisked away to L.A. to meet the actor at his home. I’d get five minutes with the star of Independence Day and Men in Black, one on one.

Turns out, mega-wattage celebrities live like the hoi polloi. When I arrived, was watching an old episode of & Grace, laughing so hard you’d think Wild Wild West had just won a best-picture Oscar. He was lost in the show, so I dared not interrupt, waiting instead for a commercial break.

We be right back after these messages.

That was my cue.

I had one shot to make my dream a reality. Setting aside all fan fawning, I got straight to the point:

“,” I said, referring to him by first name as if he were an old college buddy, “I’d like to be listed as a beneficiary in your. you do that for me?”

“I not,” he said.

I pleaded with him.

No luck.

I threatened him.

No luck.

Turns out, is a man with an iron. And a temper. With my five minutes nearing an end, my begging intensified. That backfired.

“I’m gonna punch you in the ovary, that’s what I’m gonna do,” he said, quoting Ferrell’s titular character in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.

I noticed a vein jutting out of his tense neck — and security approaching from all sides — so I dropped my request. My dreams faded faster than a jet contrail. My big dreams, that is. If I couldn’t dream big, I’d dream small. If I couldn’t be in his, perhaps I could be on the red carpet.

“Fine,” I said. “No mention of me in the. But how about two tickets to the premiere of your next movie?”

That I can do!” he said. “I’ll leave ‘em at call.”

And that, readers, is the story of my brief, authentic encounter with Jada’s husband.

So, everyone a bit parched? Literally couldn’t hold your liquor, could you? Why is that? Well, it seems a certain word was missing, and you wouldn’t have been able to find it with prescription beer goggles. See what happens when a word, even a simple word that rhymes with nil, is omitted? Everyone loses. That’s why writers and editors have to make sure all essential words are included. The whole is only as strong as the sum of its parts (of speech).

I apologize to all my thirsty readers who had hoped to depart from their wagon. Allow me to make it up to you. Slide into your favorite pair of parachute pants, because it’s hammered time!

Owen will will will will does will will will will not will will will will condone will will will will drinking will will will will excessive will will will will amounts will will will will of will will will will alcohol.