Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Which Comma Must Go? That Comma

Someone got a tad too comma happy. We have five in this one-sentence paragraph. We only need four. The writer included a comma after which, which is surprising. Commas normally don't follow which; they usually precede it.

Speaking of which, Id like to present a grammar lesson: That or Which?

These pronouns both introduce clauses, but they shouldnt be used interchangeably. Knowing which is which is not that difficult.

That is used to introduce essential clauses about an inanimate object. Which is primarily used to introduce nonessential clauses about an inanimate object. Lets look at a couple of examples:

Horror movies that were directed by Wes Craven are playing at the downtown theater.

Horror movies, which can be traumatic for young viewers, are playing at the downtown theater.

In the first sentence, the underlined clause tells us which movies are playing. Not all horror movies are playing downtown — only specific ones. The clause is essential to complete the sentences meaning, so no commas are needed.

In sentence two, the clause about trauma adds incidental information about the movies that are playing. It is not essential and must be set off by commas.

Does that make sense? Lets try two more examples, sticking with our cinematic theme:

Tickets that are purchased online are generally less expensive.

Tickets, which can be purchased online, are available.

The underlined clause in the first example restricts the meaning — it tells us the specific tickets that are less expensive. We need this information. If we eliminate those four words, we change the meaning of the sentence. So, no commas.

Those five words that make up the clause in the second example, however, can be eliminated without changing the basic meaning of the sentence. They merely provide additional detail, and their absence would not lead to misinterpretation. So, we need commas.

That concludes todays lesson. Thats that. (Or is that which?)

Monday, April 28, 2014

Garlic Not

I love a good burger just as much as, nay, more than the next guy. Swap “good spelling” for “a good burger” and the previous sentence holds true. That is why an entry from a menu for Corey’s Catsup & Mustard, pictured below, is fodder for When Write Is Wrong.

The “Bruschetta” burger description contains nine words, four of which could be troublesome to spell. Corey’s aced the arrangement of the Italian-based antipasto. Corey’s remembered to paste an e when creating the plural of the reddish vegetable, er, fruit. Corey’s breezed through the Italian cheese, avoiding the mistake many make: substituting an a for the second o. Corey’s, undeterred by all the c’s, seized the opportunity to cook the flat bread to perfection.

Four for four. My compliments.

Alas, Corey’s failed to complement that foursome with a competent condiment. Was Corey’s cognizant of its misplaced consonant? I’m not confident. Consequently, I’m here today to let Corey’s know that, unlike demons and vampires, it does not have to be averse to a certain pungent-smelling plant bulb.

My beef is with the garlicky garbled spelling, which doesn’t cut the mustard, and I want to fix it. (Betty Crocker isn’t the only hamburger helper.) Let’s transpose the second and third letters of the penultimate word. Ah, much better. No more artificial flavors. Now this menu, like my burger preference, is well done.

This isn’t the first time Corey’s Catsup & Mustard has been in the news. The popular burger joint in Manchester, Connecticut, was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives in 2011. You can check out the video on the restaurant’s official website, here.

The misspelling had my head hurting, but the rest of the menu had my mouth watering. Of the restaurant’s dozen burgers, I’m leaning toward the “Rodeo,” topped with cheddar cheese, bacon, fried shoestring onions, barbecue sauce and ranch dressing. Place it on a warm pretzel bun (for an additional 75 cents) and I’d flip for that burger.

Remember, Corey’s: To avoid being fodder for When Write Is Wrong, proper spelling is integarl. Ah, you know what I mean!

Friday, April 25, 2014

A Gruesome Twosome

Everybody wants some. I want some too. 
Everybody wants some. How bout you? 
– Van Halen (1980)

I do want some, Van Halen, but only some some.

Turn down the lights; we need to dim some. One some, to be exact. That way, our some sum goes from two to one.

An editor needed to work on this troublesome section some more. That sentence has some 11 words, yet somehow somebody put something meddlesome in that summary. Where did that irksome first some come from? Its raising some eyebrows.

You win some; you lose some. Lets lose some.

This was some post, huh?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

No Trace of Aitch

I dont believe the young boy was alone when he ran off. An h is missing, too. Despite the declaration of a certain ABC series that ran from 1977 to 1981, eight is not enough in this case.

The widespread police search alluded to in the article grew exponentially once I filed a Missing Letter Report, in which I described h as a skinny fellow, about 10 points tall, with a big hump on his right side. I let officers know that he sometimes goes by aitch. All over town I posted his picture, the one that shows him standing next to his pal H. Its a popular photo. So much so, in fact, that its up in elementary school classrooms all over the country.

Next I provided hs last known position, or LKP. Its LKP was BTH, or before the hyphen. That is where the search originated. And what a slow, methodical search it was. An army of civilian volunteers combed the ground. Search-and-rescue dogs attempted to detect hs scent, which I described as a cross between honeysuckle and hyacinth. Helicopters equipped with thermal imaging cameras assisted the ground units.

You name it, we did it. We searched high and low. Did we find him? Sigh ... and no. The whereabouts of the eighth letter — and the eighth-grader — remain a mystery. Every resource imaginable has been deployed. Im not sure what more I can do. I feel useless, like thermal underwear in Miami.

What have I overlooked?

I do have one last idea. A friend — lets call him Morse (his code name) — suggested it. I may be grasping at straws, but here goes nothing...

• • • •?

• • • •?

Are you out there, • • • •? Can you hear me? Please come home!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Bad As It's Gonna Be

When he wore a wedding dress to promote his autobiography, Bad As I Wanna Be, it was Rodman being Rodman. When his marriage to Carmen Electra, a former Playboy model, lasted nine days, it was Rodman being Rodman. When he painted his hair green, it was Rodman being Rodman. When he wrestled alongside Hulk Hogan, it was Rodman being Rodman. When he sang Happy Birthday to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, it was Rodman being Rodman. When he was the subject of a short photo caption, it was Rodman behing sued.

A new word has come into being — by having a letter come into being. Whats that h doing in there? Its not being natural. Its acting strange ... like Rodman.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Gwyneth and Chris of Words

Goops! I mean oops!

Cooktop and instead need their space, which is understandable, but theyve taken things to extremes. I asked them why they split, and they claimed it was a conscious uncoupling.


Lets call a spade a spade. Cooktop and instead suffered an “oblivious dissociation, for lack of a more pretentious, ridiculous New Age term.

Its time for us to consciously uncouple separate, readers. Dont worry. Ill be back soon. Unlike cooktop and instead, we will remain close.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

If I Only Had a Brian

As a lifelong 76ers fan, I’ve endured many moments that led me to question who was the brains behind the operation in Philadelphia. Among them:

Why did they trade future Hall of Famer Moses Malone, Terry Catledge and first-round draft picks to the Washington Bullets for Jeff Ruland and Cliff Robinson?

Why did they trade the top pick in the 1986 draft to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Roy Hinson and cash?

Why did they trade future Hall of Famer Charles Barkley to the Phoenix Suns for Jeff Hornacek, Tim Perry and Andrew Lang?

Why did they draft Shawn Bradley, a 7-foot-6-inch human stick figure, with the second pick of the 1993 NBA draft?

Why did they waste top-10 draft picks on Clarence Weatherspoon (1992) and Sharone Wright (1994)?

Why did they trade class act Hersey Hawkins, my all-time favorite player, to the Charlotte Hornets for Dana Barros, Sidney Green and draft picks?

Why did they sign Kwame Brown to a two-year deal?

Well, it turns out you don’t have to be a whiz to figure out that one of the 76ers’ assistant coaches is the most intelligent person on Philadelphia’s payroll. With a first name like Brain, he’s got to be smart!

According to the official 76ers website, Mr. James has a master’s degree from Northeastern Illinois University, which proves he does have a brain. He has a brain. He isn’t a Brain. He’s a Brian. That’s a no-brainer.

Looks like the writer needs some assistance with that assistant’s name. What can we do? Allow me to think for a moment. [Editor’s note: Neurons are firing. They’ve reached a synapse. Information is being processed and transmitted…]

I’ve got it!

To fix the damage, we must beat James’ Brain out … and replace it with Brian.

Now that’s using your noodle.

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Conn Game

In Grease, a 1978 musical film about ‘50s-era high school kids (played by actors in their late 20s and early 30s!), certain characters evolve, showing signs of growth … some in drastically different ways than others.

During the animated intro, we’re tickled pink to meet a lengthy cast of characters, including Frenchy, played by Didi Conn.

When animation segues to live action, Conn’s character name remains the same. The proof is written in her clothes — literally. The first time we see Frenchy, a “coat check” reveals her first name stitched in cursive on the left breast of her Pink Ladies jacket.

In the end credits, however, Frenchy, like cursive in many elementary school curriculums, has disappeared. Frenchie is the word. Why? It’s got no groove. It’s got no meaning.

Good girls and greasers can change between the beginning and the end of summer, so I suppose a ne’er-do-well beauty school dropout can be one person at the start of a movie and another altogether at its conclusion. Then again, Sandy didn’t become Sandie, and Danny didn’t change to Dannie.

It’s my duty, therefore, to do some Grease lightening, reducing the number of letters by one. I’m hopelessly devoted to y, so let’s French-kiss ie goodbye.

Frenchy, you’re the one that I want.

Friday, April 11, 2014

He Said, She Said

I dont run in the same circles as Samarie Walker, a former player on the womens basketball team at the University of Kentucky, so Im unsure if any of her friends call her Sam. Itd make sense if they did, seeing as how Sam is a truncated form of her name. Sam is, as we all know, a nickname for the male moniker Samuel, as well as the diminutive for the female Samantha. Sam is the name of a retired baseball player who runs a Boston bar. Sam also is the name of the daughter of a retired baseball player who works as a live-in maid. (Malone and Micelli, respectively.) Sometimes, a female Sam is just that — Sam, with no connection to the elongated Samantha. Need proof? Give Charlie Sheen or Denise Richards a ring and ask about daughter Sam J. Sheen, born in 2004.

What Im getting at, in my roundabout way, is that Sam can be male or female — but not both. Not in the same sentence, anyway. In the span of a few words, Samarie Walker has undergone a sex change. Why, after she said and she knew, did he step foot on campus?

This is no time for neutrality; I must be gender biased. I want an s to walk right up to he and make Walker a woman again. No more masquerading as a man. Fix the gender fender-bender in this writing Sample.

Thats all she (actually, he) wrote.