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.