Friday, February 28, 2014

Trading Places

I, for one, noticed something out of order in this blurb, which is all the more reason to do something about it. One has gotten one step ahead, and more is doing more harm than good. How about we fix the one that got away? Transpose more one, please. Need I say more?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Missing the Points

If youre keeping score, college basketball recaps in the Connecticut Post follow a set format: team ranking, team name, team score, comma, other teams ranking (if ranked), other teams name, other teams score, colon — all in bold, capital letters — followed by a short write-up.

Top-ranked Kentucky, for example, defeated unranked LSU 69-51, and No. 12 Baylor upset third-ranked Kansas 81-[fill in the blank]. Much like The Office sans Steve Carell, somethings missing.

You wont score any points with your audience, Connecticut Post, if you dont let the readers know how many points Kansas scored in its Big 12 game. Allow me to get to the points: The Jayhawks had 72, falling by nine in large part because they missed 11 of 13 3-pointers.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Crafted in Great Haste

When you hear the word icing, do you think of cakes instead of pucks? You do? You’ve probably still heard of Wayne Gretzky.

Are you unfamiliar with “playoff beards” and their symbolic manifestation of a team’s hirsute of postseason success? You are? You’ve probably still heard of Gretzky.

Do you think a “change on the fly” and “the crease” are sartorial in nature? You do? You’ve probably still heard of Gretzky.

It’s no surprise. His name, though a tad unusual, is synonymous with hockey and known worldwide. He’s arguably the greatest NHL player who ever lived. If your nickname is “The Great One,” you likely won four Stanley Cup championships or own more single-season and career records than you can shake a hockey stick at or moved from Edmonton to Los Angeles in 1988, sparking a resurgence in the game’s popularity in the United States. Gretzky did all those things — and more.

Photo by Jim McIsaac / Getty Images
NHL players must be three years removed from retirement to be eligible for the Hall of Fame. Not Gretzky, who was blessed with intelligence, creativity, improvisation, judgment and impeccable, impossible-to-define “hockey instincts.” Number 99 had the waiting period waived and was inducted in ‘99, the year he retired.

Yet early in his penultimate season, Gretzky’s name failed to register with one uniform supplier, and Oct. 30, 1997, would turn out to be a “red letter” date in hockey history. Gretzky was playing for the New York Rangers in a game against the New York Islanders, and the fifth and sixth letters in his surname grated those who care about “The Great One” — and those who care about accuracy.

His isn’t the easiest name to spell, but Gretzky was a veteran at this point, already having laid claim to “Great(est) One” status. He was a household name, playing for a marquee team, in one of the world’s largest media markets.

The Rangers lost that early-season contest against their in-state rivals by two, and Gretzky failed to score a goal. So did Gretkzy.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Something Strange: Part II

So, readers, did you manage to figure out why I’m down on the Up & Down Words I blogged about on Wednesday? You’ve had two days to solve the word game. That’s plenty of time. So much can be accomplished in 48 hours. God created the day, the night and the sky. A construction company in India erected a 10-story building. The Avengers earned more than $150 million at the box office. John Hughes wrote the screenplay to The Breakfast Club. Surely you had time to discover where Up & Down Words slipped up.

Working from bottom to top, it’s clear the answer to No. 2 is WILD WEST. That makes No. 1 SOMETHING WILD. Hmm… Something’s not right. When it comes to clue No. 1, don’t believe a word of it. Don’t believe two words of it, actually — the first two. Something Wild is a 1986 movie starring Jeff Daniels, not John Cusack. In 1986, Cusack was doing something wild, but it wasn’t Something Wild; he was busy enjoying One Crazy Summer.

What went up for clue No. 1 should have come down. I can understand mixing up Jeff Daniels with Jeff Bridges. But mixing up Jeff Daniels with John Cusack? That’s dumb.

And dumber.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Something Strange

Today’s post is part one of a first-ever When Write Is Wrong two-parter.


I know.

I’m going to give you today and tomorrow to solve the game pictured, readers, and on Friday I’ll point out why, after I puzzled over this puzzle, I found something puzzling.

Up & Down Words is a USA Today crossword-style game of linked two-word phrases. The second word in the answer to No. 1 is also the first word of the answer to No. 2, and so on. Let’s get down to business: a mock game to get you acclimated. Don’t slip up.

1. THE      ______
2. ______  ______
3. ______  ______
4. ______  ______
5. ______  ______
6. ______  ______
7. ______  BILL    

1. 1985 blockbuster: Back to ____ ____
2. Income yet to come
3. Financial filing made by a public company
4. Student evaluation
5. Poker or gin rummy
6. Wheel of Fortune, for example
7. Advertising poster


All the blanks have been filled. You’ve worked your way from THE to BILL. You now get the gist of the game, right? Good. Solve the game pictured above. Find its error. I’ll be back in a couple of days to let you know why Up & Down Words has me worked up. Until then, settle down. It’s time to play … the waiting game.

P.S. Check out the answer to No. 1 in Friday’s puzzle. Great Scott!

Monday, February 17, 2014

A "Jaw" Breaker

A large cougar clawed this truck’s cab, or so it seems. It’s just a fancy paint job, of course. That big rig spilled no blue blood. The real damage was done in the accompanying blurb about the patriarch of Hollywood blue bloods.

When Dodie, my “West Coast mom,” saw this teaser about Will Smith on AOL’s home page, she dropped me a text because the teaser contained a jaw-dropping sentence — literally. Thank you, Dodie! (Smith’s mobile home — a trailer Hitch? — may be a long-lost cousin of Optimus Prime or Megatron. With the touch of a button it transforms, as the Celebrity Motor Homes video states, “into an amazing double-decker mansion on wheels.” The passenger side expands like a DVD slot, and the roof rises more than 3 feet, revealing a home away from home with a private lounge, wardrobe room and 14 (!) televisions. You can check out the video here.)

The draw of the AOL teaser comes near the end. I’d like to draw your attention to the second-to-last white word, which reveals an open-and-shut case of misuse.

All sorts of things drop: Bombs. Prices. Temperatures. Sea levels. Curtains. Large crystal balls in Times Square. New albums. And drawers, if you’re at the proctologist’s office.

Jaws drop too. Jaws. Not draws. That’s why a group of friends and I have decided to remove this trailer trash. Orthognathic surgery isn’t required, which means we don’t need a dr. The j crew and I will do all the work. We’ll put jaw back, eliminating this drawback.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Make "No" Mistake

I'll tee off today's post with a little background: The sentence pictured is from an article suggesting athletes refrain from handshaking because doing so could spread germs.

That's debatable. What's not debatable is that one of the words in the sentence is not the picture of health. I tried to give it a fair shake, but I couldn't.


Why not?

We have no no, and that's a no-no.

A t has fallen into the wrong hands, and we must shake it loose. Give me a germ-free hand, will you? I won't take no for an answer. Actually, I will take no for an answer.

No can do.

No will do.

So, readers, are you going to get your hands dirty and help me force not to hand over that unnecessary last letter?

You will?

Shake on it?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The "His" Story

That his standing in front of “front of stands out like a sore thumb. As it stands, we have his and, three words later, his again. We have no room in this locker room for his and that. I cant stand it. It stands to reason that the first his must stand aside.

Will he?

This his sure thinks highly of himself. I wish he would leave, but he seems adamant about staying. Until his is history, Im going to have a hissy fit. Youll just have to deal with my histrionics, readers.

You dont stand a chance.

Monday, February 10, 2014


Do you see me? I don’t. My friend Chas didn’t either, which is why he sent me this photo. (Thanks, Chas!) Chas, who runs the It’s Filmed There website, was on his way home from work when he came across this sign in Warsaw, Indiana, while sitting at a traffic light. While the light was red, Chas read a billboard in dire need of a couple of letters for hire. He noticed an unorthodox management style.

Managent is certainly not what Family Video, a large movie and game rental chain with more than 750 stores throughout the United States and Canada, meant. How did the company, um, manage to misspell a word so badly? Was anyone supervising this sign?

Then again, perhaps no letters are missing. Maybe Family Video is hiring a man agent. If that’s the case, the missing space and the misogyny disappoint me. Nah, that’s not the Family matter with which we’re dealing.

Family Video simply showed signs of carelessness, creating an error that caused drivers to stop abruptly — red light or no red light.

On the “about us” section of the company’s website, Family Video claims its days “are built around four daily goals: to learn, to teach, to WOW and to improve.” Today, Family Video, your goals weren’t met. You didn’t learn to spell a certain three-syllable word. I’ll teach you. Apply two more letters between the e and the n. M-A-N-A-G-E-M-E-N-T. WOW! That’s a marked improvement. Goal!

We had a situation in northern Indiana today. Chas put me on the case, and I put me on the sign, fixing the problem. That, readers, is crisis manijme managen management.

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Chosen Feud

The Lego Movie opens today. If the promo I saw recently is accurate, the movie is going to be … awesome.

Alas, no one wants to see it with me. Mila Kunis and I should, like a couple of Lego pieces, go together. We would click. I await her call. In the meantime, I’ve assembled a choice post, brick by brick. Enjoy.

No one way exists to tackle a Lego set. When you open the box and dump out its contents, you can follow the pictorial instructions and match the image seen on the box, or you can sidestep the steps and build whatever you dream.

Such options don’t exist when constructing sentences. Words, unlike Legos, don’t always connect. An incorrect tense, for example, can mar the most imaginative creation.

Chose is the past tense of choose, and the independent clause introduced by the conjunction so in the first sentence of this USA Today deck is in the past tense, but “to chose from” is a grammatical construction called an infinitive. Such constructions always use present-tense verbs. (Without delving too deeply into a rather dry subject, let me point out that an infinitive — to plus the present tense of a verb — is one type of verbal, which is a word or group of words that combine characteristics of a verb with those of a noun or adjective. In this deck, “to chose from” functions as an adjective because it modifies the noun lot. The true verbs in the clause are were and scripted.)

Chose is close to choose, but it doesn’t have the right dose of o’s. Pose another o in chose and your prose will be on the nose. Trust editors. We’re pros.

When it’s an infinitive, it’s definitive: Choosy spellers choose choose. Do not accept chose.

That concludes my piece of resistance.

Oh, I have one more thought, should you, ahem, choose to read it. Isn’t it strange that chose, with one o, doesn’t rhyme with lose, but choose, with two o’s, does? Yet chose doesn’t rhyme with loose; it rhymes with lows. I bet that hit you like a ton of Lego bricks.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

They're All Mine!

In an NBA playoff game against the Boston Celtics in April 1986, second-year pro Michael Jordan continued his ascension into rarefied air. Jordan soared that Sunday afternoon, and he forever remained in the stratosphere. In the first-round game, played in the old Boston Garden, Air Jordan set a playoff record by scoring 63 points in a double-overtime loss, going over, around and through the Celtics, the eventual NBA champions. Boston’s superstar, Larry Bird, grasping for superlatives after the game, described his opponent as “God disguised as Michael Jordan.” Question: How many of his 63 points did MJ score? This is not a trick question. The answer appears at the end of today’s post.

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis plays basketball for the UConn women’s team. Football is not her sport, though today she needs a “quarter back.” The sentence pictured below, as written, implies that Mosqueda-Lewis didn’t score all of her points.

Does she have a surrogate scorer? Who is claiming ownership of those other eight points? Did a teammate on the far end of the bench, the one who gets almost no playing time, play the part of Mosqueda-Lewis while she was out of the game? Is that what’s meant by “role player”?

We’re missing a prepositional phrase after points. Some sort of illuminating qualifier is required. Did she score 24 of her 32 points...

… at the free-throw line?
… with her eyes closed?
… in a 10-minute span?
… under hypnosis?
… before picking up her fourth personal foul?
… while hopping on one leg?
… on 3-pointers?
… by bribing the officials?

None of the above. Mosqueda-Lewis scored 24 of her 32 points in the first half, but she scored 32 of her 32 points. Give credit — full credit — where credit is due.

In basketball terms, you could say Mosqueda-Lewis netted 32 points. You could also say she grossed 32 points. Any deductions made would be for taxing purposes — and would be considered gross negligence. That’s my point.

My point.

No one else’s.

Answer: All of them. Jordan scored 63 of his 63 points. Imagine that.

Monday, February 3, 2014

I Examine "Nation"

Chase what matters. What matters are equality, justice and … capitalization, which I broached during a patriotic address last July. In the summer of 2013, the U.S. lacked capital. Today, the third day of Black History Month, our nation is at risk. (Thank you to my friend Lindsay, of IAMNOTASTALKER, for stumbling upon a Chase Bank in Santa Monica, California, with extra capital and sharing today’s black mark.)

Let’s cut to the chase. We have a problem in our nation’s capital. No, not D.C. For some reason, a certain common noun contains an uppercase letter.

In the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson et al, I’m going to bring about change in our Nation. Those three pioneers encountered violence, oppression and discrimination at every turn. My struggle for justice pales in comparison; it is free of risk and encumbered by nary a great obstacle. The harshest resistance I’ll face, should I meet any at all, will come in the form of a mean-spirited reader comment or two. I can live with that.

Here, then, is my vision of revision. It’s detailed and complicated, so try to stay with me.

Change N to n. Nation’s N-trance should be smaller, if you will.

You can bank on it.


I’d like to end today’s post with an unrelated question:

Did you hear about the killing in New Jersey yesterday?

It would have made Tony Soprano proud. It made me proud.

Seattle slew the opposition last night.

Thank you, Seahawks, for, ahem, outmanning the Denver Broncos and putting Peyton in his place. That was truly a super Super Bowl. Some readers may be disappointed, but the Super Bowl XLVIII outcome was just what those of us who have had our fill of Denver’s quarterback wanted.

The Seahawks tamed the Broncos from start to finish, and the Space Needle-sized margin of victory was a joy to witness. The Broncos were beaten like the eggs in a Denver omelet.