Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Ag-ing Poorly

Silver bails. Silver bails. It’s amiss time in the city.
Ding-a-ling, here’s the thing: Soon it will be dismiss gray. ♫

Why did silver leave? If that shade has abandoned us, gray will surely follow.

Sliver, in the sentence pictured below, is anything but sterling. When you want to spell the metal whose symbol on the periodic table is Ag, no gray area exists; silver is the gold standard.

The sentence lacks what every cloud has. If silver were deposited in sliver’s place, the sentence would have a “silver lining,” which is something good that can be found in a bad situation. John Milton may have originated this phrase in his 1634 poem Comus, which included the following lines:

Was I deceived, or did a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night?

A cloud, even one described as dark or gloomy, may have a hint of the shining sun behind it. This can give the cloud’s lining, or edge, a silvery complexion. A dark cloud reveals signs of brightness, just as dark times may hold a hopeful prospect.

In the spirit of silver linings, the writer should look on the bright side: At least he went with the anagram sliver instead of the anagram livers. Of course, silver, a hot commodity, would have been most useful in this instance. 

You may not care about this malaprop, but silver minds. (When it comes to silver, I am a mother lode of awful puns. I serve them on a platter. You know what kind of platter.)

Polish that sliver. All this struggling editor wants for Christmas is silver.

And gold. Lots and lots of gold.

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Clashing Pumpkins

When the days get shorter and the nights get cooler, autumn is here … and so is a certain round, orange fruit. It infiltrates store shelves, finding its way into everything from macchiato and hummus to yogurt and Kahlúa. It pops up in Pop-Tarts. It manifests in Mini-Wheats. It penetrates pasta sauces. Heck, it even adds volume to shampoo. This vine crop crops up everywhere.

Well, not everywhere.

Earlier this week a jump line in my local newspaper alerted readers to “See Pumpkin on A5.” When I jumped to A5, however, I didn’t see the word Linus would label great. I spotted something much scarier: a forbidden fruit.

Should anything come between m and p? The answer lies in the alphabet.

When carving this particular pumpkin, an inattentive writer harvested two k’s. One is stuck in the pump. Remove it. That first k is as out of place as a 30-year-old trick-or-treater. Chunk pumkpkin in the trash. It’s rotten.

Every company from Kellogg’s to Kraft Foods uses pumpkin. Reproduce their work. It’s an act of pumpkin pi…racy. Perfectly legal. And perfectly delicious, especially with a dollop of whipped cream.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Attack of the Near Clones

Actors perform in movies but on TV.

 People travel on a plane but in a car.

 It’s normal to be on the toilet, but to be in the toilet is disgusting.

 One in six is a ratio, but one on six is an unfair fight.

 If your house is on the lake, you’re lucky. If your house is in the lake, you’re miserable.

 A guy with a knife on him is able to defend himself, while a guy with a knife in him didn’t defend himself well.

 The Most Beautiful Libraries in the World is a book on libraries, but To Kill a Mockingbird is a book in libraries.

 If a woman tells you a man has six inches on her, he’s half a foot taller. If she tells you he has six inches in her …  um, TMI.

Enough dirty talk. Let’s turn on the lights and discuss today’s error, from an article about the release of the final trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Our, ahem, First Order* of business is to Ren-ovate the preposition in a quote from Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Sure, the character’s voice is masked by, well, a mask, but he clearly says in, which clearly makes sense.

Our illuminated (and illuminating) discussion reveals that on is anything but a bright spot. It’s time to turn on off.


That’s your cue, in. You’re on!

I’m sure the writer, now aware of his erroneous transcription, regrets his words. May the remorse be with him. (Ooh! That was an awful pun, huh? Kylo can I go?)

* A military organization inspired by the Galactic Empire

Monday, October 19, 2015

You Oughta "Know"

What do you mean?

Your second sentence, after the semicolon, is unintelligible.

Now, now, don’t cry like Bieber during the 2015 VMAs. We can fix this.

How do I know? Well, I begin with a k.

In all seriousness, I know because I’ve got now/know know-how. I mean it. If you could see my face right now, you’d be a Belieber.

Now, you see, is an adverb referring to the present; know is a verb denoting a sense of understanding. The distinction is common, um, nowledge.

In that five-word construction that follows the semicolon, your first now shines, but your second one isn’t too bright. If it had a k, it’d know better.

Now and know each need to appear, as Bieber belted in his debut song, “One Time.”

I need you, know.

I need you now.

Monday, August 24, 2015

A Bleeping ACCident

College football has the FBS, the FCS and, now, the FTS.

Professionally and personally, I’ve thumbed through many football media guides over the years. I’ve seen typos. I’ve seen inaccuracies. I’ve never seen vulgarities.

Never say never.

Media guides are often hundreds of pages long, chock-full of sports minutiae: stats, records, results, rosters, previews, reviews and so forth.

If you had access to the 2015 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Football Information Guide, for example, you’d be able to find out all of the following:

What are the names of the ACC commissioner’s grandchildren?

What is the fax number for the Camping World Independence Bowl?

What year was Virginia Tech founded?

Who won the 1942 Boston College-Wake Forest game played at Fenway Park?

Who has the longest non-scoring run in league history?

You’d also discover the following:

What does an employee, perhaps one having a rough day, input in a moment of unprofessional frustration?

The answer to that question appears on page 145, in the wake of the 2014 Wake Forest schedule. The NSFW material was discovered last month, when the “cursed” guide was distributed at ACC Kickoff (media days).

I’ve blurred a pair of dirty four-letter words in the image above, but they’re there. I, ahem, swear. (Click here or here to see the original @#$% version.) In fact, they are easier to spot than the rather inconspicuous vulgarity that popped up a couple of weeks ago on a promo image marking the 100-day countdown to the last installment of The Hunger Games. See it? (Hint: Look at Jennifer Lawrence’s right cheek and nose.)

F*CK THIS SH*T is a common refrain, uttered when a person is frustrated or annoyed to the point he doesn’t want to complete the task at hand. An ACC employee at the end of his rope, it seems, placed something obscene at the end of his lines.


Monday, August 17, 2015

Buyers Beware

I have my reservations about this “reserved” sign.

Rachel Grace of the lifestyle blog Heart of Light walked past this sign next to outdoor tables at a Taco Bell/Pizza Hut restaurant in Westwood Village (Los Angeles) for months before finally stopping to take a photo. I’m glad she did!

Photo courtesy of Rachel Grace
Those fast-food chains would be wise to whip up a fast-food change, because the spelling of one of the sign’s words is crazier than a Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco.

A person who buys food at Pizza Hut or Taco Bell is a customer. A person who makes or supplies outfits is a costumer. It’s customary, therefore, to run the u first, then the o. A costume change is in order.

Customers is right. Is that surprising? The customers are always right. Or so I’ve heard. You’d be hard-pressed to convince me these consumers are correct:

Customers who take up two spaces in the parking lot

Customers who follow closely and push their cart into your heels

Customers who leave their cart in the middle of the aisle as they peruse the shelves

Customers who don’t move up after placing their items on the conveyor belt

Customers in the “10 items or less” line with, oh, 76 items

Customers who hold up the line to go grab one forgotten item

Customers who wait to hear the total before pulling out their wallet or, worse, fishing for their checkbook

Customers who dig through their purse for “exact change”

Those shoppers pale in comparison to the worst customers I’ve ever seen, on a sign near the UCLA campus.

Thank you, Rachel, for sharing. Your customers service was excellent. Five stars.

Monday, August 3, 2015

I Spy

I spy, with my little editor eye, something beginning with I in the Sports Illustrated sentence that starts I think I owned... Any guesses? Hint: Its intrusive, idle and itty-bitty. It is I. Not I as in Owen. I as in I, the one-letter personal pronoun.

One need not be four-eyed to see that four Is are one too many. Despite what poker has taught us, three of a kind beats four of a kind in this deal. Why the third I? It needs to make like a disoriented hiker and get lost. That quartet would play better as a trio. Everyone agree? Aye, aye.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Total Confusion

Is there a doctor in the house? More specifically, is there a podiatrist in the house?

FootSmart, a retailer specializing in shoes and pain-relieving products for the feet and lower body, e-mailed my mother this birthday offer the day before she turned … let’s say 39.

So, if Mom spends $55, does she get the discount or not?

This e-mail could use a touch of Lotrimin, because something stinks. According to the small print near the upper right, spending at least $49 triggers a 15 percent markdown. If it’s your birthday, however, you’re in luck: You only have to spend $10 more to see comparable savings. Don’t believe me? It’s the icing on the cake.

Happy freakin’ birthday, huh?

Is it $49 or $59, FootSmart? It’s got to be one ($49) or the other ($59). I’m waiting for the other to drop, at which point the ad will be back on its feet. In the meantime, it’s nice to know that you can have your cake and edit too*.

At the risk of stepping on someone’s toes at a certain shoe retailer, I’ve tweaked a famous nursery rhyme:

This little piggy went to FootSmart.
This little piggy stayed between $50 and $58.
This little piggy had a beef.
This little piggy had no idea if the offer applied.
This little piggy cried all the way home.

Poor piggy.

* If you’re indifferent toward this pun, you are as callous as the skin on the sole of an irritated foot.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Missing in ______

A word is missing from today’s title. The title, like me on days that end with a y, is getting no action. You knew the absent word was action, of course, because “missing in action” is a common three-word phrase that rolls off the tongue. So common, in fact, that if you enter “missing in” on Google, its search engine autocompletes “missing in action” as your top choice. In the same vein, I bet you can autocomplete the following three-word phrases:

no strings ____
with bated ____
trashy romance ____
some assembly ____
botched nose ____

Now try this one:

positive drug ____

If at least 95 percent of my readers didn’t fill in the blank with test, I’d be shocked. So would Google. Its search engine predicts you’re about to type “positive drug test” before you can even inject the u in drug. I know it’s “positive drug test.” You know. Google knows. A certain USA Today caption writer doesn’t. He or she must obviously, ahem, detest a certain word.

It’s time we do some cramming for a test, stuffing it in after drug. With that, readers, our test flight is over.

Job well ____.

Monday, July 13, 2015

T Wrecks

“That it should come to this!”Hamlet: Act 1, Scene 2

The excerpt below concerns Pete Rose, Major League Baseball’s all-time hits leader, visiting Bridgeport, Connecticut, and managing the local minor-league ball club for a day. Can you figure out if the snippet is from a modern newspaper article or a Shakespearean sonnet?

Three elements are as out of place as Pete Rose at the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

First up on our hit list…

You know what I’d like to see at the end of an autograph? A period. Will a comma get the job done in that awkward second sentence? In words that would have benefitted the former Cincinnati Reds player-manager years ago: Don’t bet on it.

Next up…

Twill is a fabric with a diagonal pattern. The word ’twill, with an apostrophe before the t, is a contraction of “it will.” (The apostrophe replaces the missing i.) You can choose the fabric or the archaic contraction — either way, ’twill be incorrect when used instead of will.

Our final at-bat…

Tis are tropical plants found in eastern Asia. The word ’tis, which was customary in Shakespeare’s heyday, is a contraction of “it is.” The contraction — often erroneously written sans apostrophe — is used sparsely today. You’re most apt to come across it in a poetic or literary setting: Each December, carolers remind us that “’tis the season to be jolly,” and in his most famous soliloquy, a certain Danish prince questioned “whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.”

The word works in those two familiar refrains. In this sonnet newspaper article, it does not. Remove the word after cost at any cost. I must tsk-tsk this tis, which should be is.

Oh, well. We know ’tis human to err. To err three times in but four sentences, however, is a bit much. I find it difficult to explain the unusual presence of the comma and two t’s. Perhaps it’s the present-day equivalent of spotting a smartphone during a performance of Hamlet at London’s original Globe Theatre. Something’s not right here.

Every Rose paragraph has its thorns, I suppose. Still, do not emulate the Player Queen and protest too much, readers. I’ve chosen to take arms against this paragraph’s sea of troubles. Once ’tis fixed, ’twill be better.

Monday, July 6, 2015

When Can I See You, McCann?

The gradation of journalistic offenses is a steep one. A journalist won’t fall far if he, say, fails to spell out an unfamiliar acronym on first reference or adds an s to toward. Upon committing such “misdemeanors,” a seasoned journalist learns a lesson and moves on. The world forgets. Near the top of the gradation, however, forgiveness isn’t as absolute; plagiarize, fabricate or commit a similar “crime” and expect to face the proverbial firing squad.

Today’s wrongdoing falls somewhere between those two extremes, albeit closer to ground level, where permanent damage is unlikely. The offense is worse than using it’s when the situation calls for its, but it pales next to a Rolling Stone-esque breakdown in which source material isn’t vetted and claims aren’t substantiated.

Professors drill nascent journalists to spell names correctly and to be extra cautious when composing headlines, which draw considerable attention.

The writer who crafted the headline pictured below forgot the drill. He swung once and, from a journalistic perspective, earned two strikes — something unheard of in baseball.


If at first you don’t succeed, try … try McCann.

Putting a G where a C needed to be created a glaring, above-the-fold mistake. Still, suffering minor “head” trauma is preferable to damaging your reputation. Just ask James Frey or Brian Williams.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Wauk This Way

Potawatomi Indians and several other tribes once inhabited the Lake Michigan region where present-day Milwaukee sits. European explorers first traveled to the southeastern Wisconsin area in the late 1600s, and the earliest references to Milwaukee come from that period.

The name may derive from a Potawatomi word meaning “meeting place of waters” or “gathering place by the river.” Early explorers called the area many names. Variations included Miliwaki, Milawakee and Milwauki. Countless other Mil-wacky versions were in the rotation from the late 1600s to the middle of the 19th century, including Mahnawauk, Melleorki and, yes, Milwacky — but never Milwakuee. Remember that.

Most of the various spellings were dropped, but two persisted, and allegiances were split along party lines. For reasons that are unclear, the region’s Democrats favored Milwaukie; the Whigs (Republicans) preferred Milwaukee. The name fluctuated — in papers and postmarks — depending on which side was in control, flexing its political clout. Agreeing on a standard spelling would take decades and not be easy. When politics come into play, is anything?

The Milwaukee Sentinel, founded in 1837 as a four-page weekly, became the Milwaukie Sentinel in 1841, when Democrats seized control, and reverted to its original name in early 1846, shortly after Rufus King, a Republican, became editor.

Milwaukee used Milwaukie as its postmark from 1835, when a post office was established under Democrat Solomon Juneau, until 1843, when a Whig named Josiah Noonan became postmaster and changed the spelling to Milwaukee. It reverted to Milwaukie in 1849, when Juneau regained office. The back-and-forth antics continued, with the postmark changing to Milwaukee in 1853, Milwaukie in 1857 and, finally, to Milwaukee in 1861. The citizens of the growing metropolis came to realize that conformity was key, which is why Milwaukee remains, well, Milwaukee. But the losing name lived on elsewhere.

The Democrats’ preferred spelling didn’t stick in Wisconsin, but it influenced a city more than 2,000 miles away. An entrepreneur living in Illinois in the 1840s named Lot Whitcomb admired Milwaukee and hoped to find a city that would prosper as it did. His manifest destiny took him west, toward the Pacific. Whitcomb arrived in Oregon in 1847, constructed a sawmill and referentially named his settlement Milwaukie. Whitcomb likely adopted the spelling in use during his visits to Wisconsin’s largest city.

Milwaukie, Wisconsin, may no longer exist, but Milwaukie, Oregon, does. The Portland suburb is where the Bing cherry was developed and is home to Dark Horse Comics, which publishes the Sin City series.

Speaking of sins…

On July 20, 2013, the Milwaukee Brewers hosted the Miami Marlins. As a tribute to the Negro Leagues, both MLB teams donned throwback uniforms. The Brewers honored the 1923 Milwaukee Bears … sort of. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke somehow managed to wear a uniform bearing a glaring error rivaling the “Natinal” dilemma in D.C. four years earlier.

I understand that spelling mistakes occur. We all make them. I’m sure you’ll find ones on my blog from time to time. (If you do, I implore you to notify me. I’ll correct them ASAP.) But a mistake of this magnitude, under these circumstances? Boggles my mind.

Roenicke’s uniform was really put through the mill. Does the manufacturer have no quality control? And when the wacky Milwaukee uni arrived at its destination, how come no team officials realized trouble brewed? In other words, how’d Milwakuee manage to slip past the equipment manager? I don’t know. All I do know is that it did, at which point you’d hope (expect?) the guy putting on the jersey would notice. Roenicke didn’t. If an equipment manager had handed me that throwback uniform, it would have been thrown back in his direction.

In 1923, Milwaukee was spelled Milwaukee. Eighty or so years earlier, it was spelled Milwaukee and Milwaukie. More than a century before that, it was spelled too many ways to list again. (See the second paragraph.) Never, I repeat, never was it spelled Milwakuee.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Upstaged by Sherman

The Westport Country Playhouse is storied indeed. Hundreds of actors have graced its stage since it opened in 1931, including Danny Aiello, Alan Alda, Jane Alexander, Matthew Broderick, Art Carney, Carol Channing, Sammy Davis Jr., Richard Dreyfuss, Buddy Ebsen, Henry Fonda, Eva Gabor, Larry Hagman, Neil Patrick Harris, Gene Kelly, Groucho Marx, Liza Minnelli, Paul Newman, John Ritter, Mickey Rooney, Paul Rudd, Susan Sarandon, Jessica Tandy, Christopher Walken and Gene Wilder.

I live in Connecticut, and I’ve been to the Westport Country Playhouse on more than one occasion. I first got into the act, so to speak, in July 1998, when my brother and I saw Wonder Years co-stars Dan Lauria and Fred Savage reunite in Wendell & Ben, a two-man play about a Gentile father and his Jewish son-in-law. I drove to the playhouse, a converted 19th-century barn, from my Fairfield home that summer evening. It took about 10 minutes to get there — a five-mile straight shot west on the Post Road, into Westport. The Westport Country Playhouse, you see, is in Westport. Sherman, a small town on the New York border, also has a playhouse, but it’s called — get this — the Sherman Playhouse.

I’m sorry, Sherman, but you’re not Westport’s stage name. It’s curtains for you.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Making Some Bold Moves

Words in bold attract the reader’s eye. Which word stood out in the previous sentence? The fourth one, of course. It’s darker than the others; it’s in a thicker, heavier typeface.

Bold type is often used for keywords, such as the entries in a dictionary, because it makes certain elements pop. When the bold is put on hold, When Write Is Wrong pops up.

It’s unfortunate that someone didn’t brush this newspaper section with a few more bold keystrokes. Nichole and Clinton have lost their bold builds.

Our first professional objective should be to turn Nichole’s “Career Goal” into a “Career Goal.” Next, we should enter the Dark Ages. Well, no, but we should darken Clinton’s “Age.” His “GPA,” too.

Monday, June 8, 2015


Sexually active, responsible teens use it.

Bodyguards provide it to presidents, celebrities and other public figures.

Insurance offers it against, say, fire or flooding.

Hard hats give it to construction workers.

The paragraph at right lacks it.

What is it?

You can figure it out. Dig. 

Keep digging. It’s a DEEP hole.

This paragraph, like a quarterback who is sacked repeatedly, has no Protection.

If you live outside of Connecticut, you’re probably unfamiliar with DEEP. Your location shouldn’t preclude the recognition that DEEP is the abbreviated form of four words (disregarding small articles, prepositions and conjunctions). The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, established in 2011, aims to control pollution, conserve natural resources and manage the state’s parks and forests.

The department’s p-word was MIA, which stands for missing in.

My apologies. MIA is an action-packed acronym. Omitting the last word has an impact.

A deep one.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Righting a Check

Lordy, lordy, look who’s turning forty … into an imaginary number and imaginary word, simultaneously. In “The Little Jerry,” a Seinfeld episode that aired in the sitcom’s eighth season, the eponymous star bounced a check — one festooned with a clown holding balloons — at a local bodega. Big Jerry made a little mistake, and I’m not talking about the shortage of funds that led the market’s owner, Marcelino, to tape the check on the cash register.

Check out check No. 1246. See the mistake? It, like Jerry’s jerry-built check, is on display.

At first glance, there appears to be no funny business, big-bow-tied clown notwithstanding. Wait a second! On the DOLLARS line, the third letter came forth out of nowhere. That u is a fifth wheel, and one need not possess a sixth sense to come to the same conclusion.

Jerry didn’t write forty; his cursive word, like many middle-aged folks, is fortyish.

Jerry’s check is in the amount of fourty dollars, which makes zero sense. Spelling forty isn’t Jerry’s forte. Fortunately for him, I’m here to help. I’ve always spelled forty with ease; it’s never been a problem for me. What? Too arrogant? I can’t suppress my forty ‘tude.

The comedian’s confusion is understandable. Forty relates to the word four, yet it drops the u, while fourteen, another four-matted word, keeps it. Perhaps it’d make more sense to spell 40 with a u and use the u-less form as an adjective meaning fort-like. Example: When I was fourty, I built a forty tree house for my sons.

To muddy the issue even more, no uniformity exists for the spelling of multiples of ten. We have sixty and seventy, so one could surmise we’d also have threety and fourty. If nine times ten is ninety, shouldn’t five times ten be fivety?

Nevertheless, Jerry should not have cut this erroneous check. Even a fourth-grader knows forty forgoes a u. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that nobody on the Seinfeld crew spotted the error.

Then again, hindsight is twoty-twoty.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Awaiting an Earlier Arrival

Rogers’ day included a frustrating beginning. A word in the paragraph recounting Rogers’ day suffered a rough ending.

En route to work, one has no time to sightsee. Reading about routes to work, one has plenty of time to sight c’s.

I got to the r in earlier and figured I’d safely reached the end of the paragraph when, out of nowhere, c cut in like the self-important commuter who aggressively switches lanes every six seconds or 20 feet, whichever comes first. He’s congesting a word in this sentence, and I’m on the verge of trafficking in retaliation. Do I honk the horn? Curse? Extend a road-rageous middle finger? Nah. Stay calm. Alert the authorities that an erc-some, unlicensed operator is on the road. A certain letter, like Rogers, showed up late.

Originally, the closing word in this USA Today paragraph had seven letters. That was an earlier version. I prefer it. So, remove that last letter. With that, earlierc becomes earlier. Our commute is complete.

Readers, I’ll catch you later. And I’ll catch you, earlierc. I always do.

Monday, May 18, 2015

WTA: Male-ing Letters

Oh, man. I’m familiar with mixed doubles, a four-player tennis match with one male and one female on each team, but is mixed singles a thing?

When former pro player and fellow Fairfield High School alumnus James Blake, whom I blogged about back in July 2014 after an initial Blake failure, ended his 14-year career, a reporter for Time reminisced … and missed.

When he wrote of James, “He was good enough, winning 10 WTA titles,” the reporter committed an unforced error, emasculating Blake in the process.



The WTA is the Women’s Tennis Association. Blake’s talent engendered a successful career on its masculine counterpart, the Association of Tennis Professionals. He won 10 ATP titles before “male-ing” it in following the 2013 U.S. Open.

The WTA, like the area between the service line and the baseline on a tennis court, is no-man’s land.

Monday, May 11, 2015

They're off to the Spaces!

Off and on, I come across a word on off. I get off on such errors, so I’d like to share the highs of this low.

The last paragraph got off to a good start, but then I noticed that something was off. Oh, right — to is on off. It must be fixed. Now, it’s off to work I go.

Off and to don’t go together — they aren’t Oreos and cold milk. We have a classic case of separation anxiety. Much like a teen heading off to college, we need a bit of breathing room. So, to, give her some space. Back off!

When you let down your guard and overlook a missing space, that’s a letdown. But if you step back, to, you’ll avoid harsh punishment. In other words, if you get off off, you’ll get off easy.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Dumb's the W-ORD

Back in 2014, W-ORD Channel 7 News co-anchors John Oliver and Cookie Monster delivered hard-hitting “news.” The parody broadcast, courtesy of Mashable, was about words — and included a misspelled word. Oh, the irony!

W-ORD Channel 7 News botched correspondent, though it had nothing to do with the c, which according to investigative reporter Telly Monster went missing and terrified local residents.

W-ORD’s word, _orrespondant, should have been _orrespondent.

That a, which I’m sure was an accidant, er, accident, is as unsettling as the pupil pinballing in the furry co-anchor’s left eye. It should be an e, of course, and I know this because I’m a smart cookie.

Cookie? Oh, boy! Oh, boy! Om nom nom nom nom!


W-ORD’s investigative reporter must get to the bottom of that erroneous “Telly” graphic. This viewer demands to know more about that foreign correspondent.

Monday, April 27, 2015

An Emboldened Woman

Have you seen her? I have. She’s fearless. She’s brave. She’s … bold.

Sheldon’s roommate, Leonard, once complained that he hated his name because, when said aloud, “it has 'nerd' in it.” I suppose Sheldon has a right to bitch now too, because his name, when written in these TV listings, has prominent lady parts.

Sheldon doesn’t have a bold bone in his bony body. He’s afraid of birds, has a fear of nets and has nightmares about Goofy. He won’t talk about any of these phobias in public, mind you, because he doesn’t like speaking to large crowds, which he considers any group big enough to trample him to death. General rule of thumb is 36 adults or 70 children. Sheldon? Bold? No.


Why is She acting like that? He has no interest in getting in touch with his feminine side.

This print version of Sheldon, which boldly went partly bold, got off to a worse start than the actual Sheldon, who as a 5-year-old wrote a paper titled “A Proof That Algebraic Topology Can Never Have a Non-Self-Contradictory Set of Abelian Groups.” The theoretical physicist entered college at age 11, graduated summa cum laude at 14 and received his first Ph.D. at 16. That’s a compendium of bold achievements.

Making those first three letters stand out, however, was anything but a bold feat. Not that Sheldon would notice; he is oblivious to advances from the opposite sex.

Monday, April 20, 2015

"Back" Issues

It was rally time on the first page of my local paper’s sports section recently. It was rally time again on page 5. I attended the first rally and remarked about its redundancy. My comments, despite being made about their backs, not behind them, were unwelcome and, as such, my presence wasn’t requested at the second rally. This is proof, readers, that when it’s rally time, you’re not invited, back.

I’ve got your backs, sports writers. You can have them back. After rally (and, in the second example, rallied), a back is an affront to conciseness. So, heed my rallying cry: “We want a rally, without a back finale! We want a rally, without a back finale!”

Avoid redundancy, readers. Tell back to get off rally’s back. In the same vein, never “refer back” to something. Refer, like rally, includes back in its definition.

When rallying, and when referring, remember to trim the back fat.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Definitive Guide to Indefinite Articles

A or an? An or a? It depends. On what? On the word that follows. When deciding which indefinite article you need, sound it out. Use a before a consonant sound and an before a vowel sound. Seems simple and straightforward. Its not, if the examples Ive shared here, here and here are any indication.

Independent begins with a vowel sound. So, applying what weve learned, we can conclude that an is the answer. Independent is dependent on it. Constantly. No independent variables here.

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Cicso Kid

Major League Baseball has had its share of what I’ll term “error wearers” — players who donned misspelled jerseys. I’ve blogged about some of these fashion faux pas before, here, here and here. Now it’s time to chronicle one about the City by the Bay.

Photo by Bob Levey / AP

San Francisco outfielder Eugenio Velez entered the April 7, 2010, game against Houston in the seventh inning. He walked in his only at-bat and scored the team’s final run in a 10-4 victory. 10-4 is more than a score; it’s CB radio lingo meaning, in essence, OK. You know what’s not 10-4? The farcical misspelling on Velez’s jersey.

I bet Velez could “CIC” himself for wearing a jersey with a Giant error.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Please Careful Readly

That’s a bad sign — a very bad sign. What is it driving at?

Only three simple words adorn that diamond-shaped sign in Northern California, yet two of ‘em are transposed, and one’s suffix is affixed to the end of another, creating a bogus word in the process.


PLEASE? Don’t go. You please me.

SLOW? I figured you’d come in last. Your second-place finish surprises me.

DRIVE? Put the pedal to the medal, man. You should be embarrassed about letting SLOW overtake you.

LY? You’re one wayward adverbial suffix! You’re parked on the wrong DRIVE. Like pokes and motions, you should follow SLOW.

Now I must confess. You’ve been (April) fooled. This “traffic wreck” was intentional. The sign, which went viral in the summer of 2013, was installed on private property near Bell’s Preschool in Auburn for safety reasons.

In a statement to the Auburn Journal, owner Lorraine Bell said: “This whimsical sign, which reads ‘PLEASE SLOW DRIVELY,’ was a gift to the school to be used as part of its campaign to get drivers to slow down when they pass by this school. Intentionally misspelled words are often used to draw the attention of the readers.”

Metaplasm* was employed purposefully, in hopes that drivers would slow down in an attempt to process that head-scratching sign. Speeds would plummet. Schoolchildren would survive. For that, please loud cheerly.

Having said that…

Couldn’t the mission backfire? A driver distracted by the jumbled mess could fail to notice a car in front of him — or a preschooler running into the street. For that, please stern condemnly.

* The intentional change to the spelling of a word or words

Monday, March 30, 2015

Colombia's Capital Is No Secret

Every blogger is having a field day with allegations that a fact error debased Colombia’s capital. OK, maybe not every blogger.

In this article about a Secret Service scandal at the Summit of the Americas, you don’t have to dig too deep to find the city duplicity. Cartagena, the supposed seat of government, needs to take a back seat to a more serviceable capital: Bogotá. Actually, Cartagena can stay; we need to cart off capital. The Secret Service scandal took place in Cartagena, but Cartagena is not Colombia’s capital.

To “summit” up, Colombia’s capital is Bogotá. Cartagena is a bogus capital; it’s merely a large city on Colombia’s northern coast — a city where prostitutes were pressed into Service.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Have You Ever Spelled It?

The stall door swings open, banging against the lavatory wall as it does. Farmer Ted appears. He pauses for a second, for dramatic effect, and then … he holds ‘em high, for all to see. Behold, underpants dotted with little hearts. Ooh! Ah!

I’ve got something just as exciting to share today, and I won’t charge you a buck to get a glimpse. It’s hard to miss, given its top-of-the-page placement and all-caps, underlined-twice treatment. See it? Yep, you see it. Your eyes are wide. Your mouth is agape. It’s as if you’ve seen a ghost — or a girl’s panties. Forget the panties, geek; this is better. (Well, that’s debatable.)

The four letters at the tail end of confidential are, it’s no secret, essential. Yet the private parts seen here are not sequential.

Blame Jennifer Woods.

Jennifer, you see, gave Samantha Baker this sex test in Child Development. Samantha had to take the test during Independent Study and then pass it along to her friend Randy.

Jennifer nailed the first nine steps, but then she impersonated Farmer Ted on the dance floor and made a strange move. Did she spell confidential correctly? My answer to that is the same as the one Samantha gave to the first question on the aforementioned sex test: almost. Or perhaps, if I wanted to be a tad harsher, my answer would mirror Samantha’s answer to the 10th and final question: NO!!!

John Hughes, the director whose career-defining Sixteen Candles/The Breakfast Club/Weird Science triumvirate coincided with my youth, may have deliberately included the mistake, as a way of showing that high school kids who create sex tests with questions like “Have you ever touched it?” and “Have you ever done it?” might have trouble spelling certain four-syllable words. It’s got to be a joke, like grandparents forgetting a birthday. We’ll never know, though, so we must assume this tailspin was unintentional.

Confidentail? Nuh-uh. Confidential? That’s ideal, for sure — like Jake Ryan.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Not at Full Strength

Where did it all go wrong?

I, like Willy Loman, have an inability to accept change. Take, for example, the alteration made to the last word in the headline. There is strength in numbers, to be sure, but these numbers don’t add up. Strength has eight letters; I only see seven. The second t, like Willy’s name, was never in the paper.

The mighty continue to fall in the body copy. The writer appears to have a weakness for article repetition. How else to explain putting one the in front of the other? Perhaps the Lomans will let me borrow their vacuum — the one for which three and a half is due on the fifteenth — so I can make one the (or the other) disappear.

I’m not buying what this writer is selling. I know what I want, and I’m going out to get it. I want some t, and I want to get rid of the.

That’s it for today. I’m tired. Hey, a small man can be just as exhausted as a great man.

Or so I’ve read.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Rebel Yell

Wrong year.

In a game that still elicits ear-to-ear grins, UNLV crushed Duke 103-73 in a resounding romp on April 2, 1990. The two teams did meet again in the 1991 NCAA tournament, though it wasnt in the national championship. They met a step shy of the title game, with the Blue Devils getting a measure of revenge with a two-point victory over the undefeated Runnin Rebels in the national semifinals. I had hoped the Rebels would party like it was 1990, but it wasnt meant to be. Dreams of a perfect season — and back-to-back championships — were dashed by @#$%! Duke. To this day, that 1991 game haunts me. If I were christened with the power to retroactively change the results of any five sporting events in history, that game would make the cut. I loved the high-octane, fast-breaking, über-aggressive early-90s UNLV squads. I was in high school at the time, and I used to stay up way past bedtime to catch the UNLV games on ESPNBig Monday — games that didnt begin until 11 p.m. my time. I wasnt going to miss that excitement. I relished the Rebels and all their revelry. Vegas, baby!

Duke, on the other hand, made me want to— You know what? Long ago, my mother taught me to say nothing at all if I had nothing nice to say.

UNLV bedeviled Duke in that glorious 1990 game, the most lopsided final in history. Id like to say the pictured Sports Illustrated graphic is true and history repeated itself in 1991, but when the Rebels dueled with Duke, I was the one who was blue. And, because of that...

Nothing at all.