Thursday, January 29, 2015

Catch 22

In one of its annual pro football magazines, Lindy’s Sports ranked the best NFL players, by position. After perusing the outstanding quarterbacks and before checking out the top tight ends, I passed an unfamiliar position, one I almost didn’t catch. But catch it I did, because I possess the sure hands of an elite wide receier.

Did you catch that?

I intentionally repeated Lindy’s Sports’ pointed (literally) omission. Someone with hands of stone — a subpar wide receiver, perhaps, or Michelangelo’s David — dropped the ball. In this case, the proverbial ball is the 22nd letter of the alphabet. RECEIERS contains a bevy of letters, but it’s void of V. No vital V is viewed in the vicinity of the second E. Its vanishing makes this varied word very wrong, vetoing its veracity. Visibly.

Ineligible receivers, players who may not legally catch a forward pass, have long been a part of football nomenclature. Today we must introduce a new, similar-sounding term — illegible receiver — into the NFL’s lexicon.

A well-received post today, I’m sure. In fact, I couldn’t be more excited. Give me five! Or as Michelangelo and his ancient Roman counterparts would say…

Give me V!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Rall Material

Today’s problems stem from the missed use or misuse of three letters. In an n-u-i sense, those letters are a nuisance.

Is author Ted Rall unaware that a word in his first panel has been n-lightened? I have a problem with the details of his annoucement, which has pronounced shortcomings.

Bigger is better. Delivering another n will birth announcement. When the letter count mounts, a beautiful word springs to life. Oh, baby!

Speaking of mounting…

Rall was further undone by an un- he spun. I’ve heard of insurmountable odds, but unsurmountable? Odd.

A journalist should know that an announcement cannot be made without four n’s, and that, despite what you may have been told, an insurmountable obstacle can be overcome.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

An Angry Man, Again

When choosing whether to use the article a or an, look to the word that immediately follows the article. If that word begins with a consonant sound, use a. If that word begins with a vowel sound, use an. Some writers havent gotten the memo. Ive shared a/an mix-ups here, here and here. Theyre everywhere. Id say theyre as common as Wang listings in a Chinese phone book. Im sharing a four-pack of a/an absurdity today.

These four make me want to utter a four-letter word. I wont. Actually, I will. T-E-S-T. I have created a test for my readers. If you are an English-speaking person, it should be easy to pick the correct articles. I am a tough teacher, and you must go 10 for 10 to get an A. Lets begin. (The answers are below.)

1. I am [a/an] writer. (Hint: Writer begins with a consonant sound.)

2. I am [a/an] editor. (Hint: Editor begins with a vowel sound.)

3. This is [a/an] historic day. (Hint: The h is pronounced.)

4. When asked, he provided [a/an] honest answer. (Hint: The h is silent.)

5. The town held [a/an] 1870s celebration to commemorate Albert Einsteins birth. (Hint: The word that immediately follows the article begins with a vowel sound.)

6. The Rubiks Cube was [a/an] 1980s fad. (Hint: The word that immediately follows the article begins with a consonant sound.)

7. The owners made [a/an] unfair offer. (Hint: Unfair begins with a vowel sound.)

8. The players made [a/an] unilateral decision to reject the deal. (Hint: Unilateral starts with a vowel but sounds like it starts with you.)

9. I purchased [a/an] DVD at the tag sale. (Hint: DVD begins with a d and sounds like it begins with a d.)

10. Philadelphia has [a/an] NBA team that hasnt won a championship in more than 30 years. (Hint: NBA begins with an n but sounds like it begins with an e.)

Answers: 1. a; 2. an; 3. a; 4. an; 5. an; 6. a; 7. an; 8. a; 9. a; 10. an

Monday, January 19, 2015

No "End" in Sight

The opening sentence, like the run-and-shoot offense popular in the NFL in the early ‘90s, lacks a tight end.

Our need needs were met on the second line. We didn’t need another need on the next line. Tight need came to a bad end. We were looking, of course, for tight end, a term for a football position. A tight end is a hybrid position; the player does some blocking and some receiving. One tight end may primarily block, while another may focus on catching passes. Every team has different needs. This sentence has different needs, too — and it shouldn’t. The writer, perhaps facing a tight deadline, put himself in an awkward position by awkwardly closing this football position, and now he’s never going to see the end of it.

Or will he?

Sit tight, readers. I have an idea.

We know that second need is not required. If we drop one of its e’s and flip-flop the n and remaining e, we’ll reach the end zone.


Friday, January 16, 2015

A Patterson Mystery

Ive come across what may be a typo in the 2012 John Patterson novel Private Games, which is about the murder of a high-ranking Olympic official hours before the opening of the 2012 Games in London.

Check out the first sentence in the photo. Its from the last page of Chapter 15.

I could be mistaken, but I think the repeat of “owned by shell corporations was unintentional. Perhaps its not a typo and Patterson meant to show just how deep the money trail went by having shell corporations, sometimes referred to as front companies or mailbox companies, own other shell corporations. I doubt it though. Im guessing IOC members owned shell corporations that owned overseas bank accounts — three levels of illegal activity, not four.

If Im right and this is an error, its difficult to fault the publisher, Little, Brown and Company. Patterson is a one-man assembly line, pumping out best seller after best seller at a breakneck pace. You try keeping up with all those drafts!

If Im wrong and this isnt an error, I shell out a public apology, Mr. Patterson.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Murder "She," He Wrote

I’ve stuck recently to two posts per hebdomad, but because of recent events at a French satirical weekly, I’m blogging three times this week. I’m Hebdo mad.

How could human beings display such an ugly mix of intolerance and violence? That’s an inquiry to delve into elsewhere. Here, we’ll tackle a trivial question.

How could she manage to slip away?

She didn’t flee. In fact, she refuses to leave quietly.

Study the text. She arrives near the beginning of the blue line, and three words later — this will make you flip — here she comes again.

Knee-deep in she are we.

I knew she would show up, but why did she make a return visit? If she’s like the wind, as Patrick Swayze once professed, I wish she’d blow.

We must treat that second reference as if it were radical Islam — eliminate it.

She will get hers.

I hope Hayat Boumeddiene does too.

Je suis Charlie.

David Pope

Damien Glez

Dave Granlund

Monday, January 12, 2015

Lost and Found

Murray State lost Tennessee State? What happened? How could an entire university go missing? No tracking device? No implanted microchip? This isn’t like misplacing gloves or sunglasses; Tennessee State is valuable. We’ve got to find it. I’ll initiate the search by putting up LOST UNIVERSITY posters and offering a substantial reward.

Relax, readers. Tennessee State isn’t missing. (The school is in Nashville.) What is missing is the to that precedes it. I doubt it can be found. I’ll look for it and get back to you.

[Owen checks couch cushions, coat pockets, lost-and-found bins, dictionary entries between TNT and toad, and, with some assistance from James Cameron, the depths of the Mariana Trench. No luck. His hope wanes.]

Eureka! My frantic search for to lasted all of one day. (It turned out to be more difficult than the time I found my mom’s glasses on top of her head but easier than the time I helped my brother look for his car keys on a beach in the wee hours of the morning. True stories.) In the following day’s paper, I saw this: 

I spotted to, wandering aimlessly, not far from Memphis. The lost to had been found. It hadn’t even crossed state lines.

I can cross “Find ‘to’” off my to-do list. Now, if I could only find that to-do list…

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Distance-Distant Distinction

I’m taking a stance this instant and insisting distance should be distant.

Distance is a noun that usually refers to the degree or amount of separation between two objects. The separation can be measured in physical length or on an emotional level. Distant is an adjective; it describes someone or something that is separated spatially, or a person who is reserved or aloof. Allow me to use each in a short paragraph:

In the distant past, I lived within walking distance from the distant woman, but I kept my distance. Today I live in a distant galaxy, and there is considerable distance between us. She is a distant memory.

As you can see, it isn’t difficult to distinguish distant from distance. Why, then, has the distal letter in distant been dissed? I find that disturbing. We are, however, within striking distance of fixing this distracting distance-distant mistake. Let’s do it! Let’s go the distance!

In this instance, let’s step a safe distance away from distance. The ce should be t. As is the case in any “rat race,” t wins and ce comes in … wait for it … a distant second.

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Bizarro Kramer

Look away. He’s hideous.

Hotel Las Palmas, a Los Angeles hotel famous for being a memorable setting in Pretty Woman, is now home to an ugly man. I’m sorry, HLP, but that’s not the Cosmo we ordered. The spelling on your home page’s subhead is clumsier than the Apartment 5A entrances made by a certain “hipster doofus.”

When Seinfeld debuted in 1989 (as The Seinfeld Chronicles), Kramer was Kessler. Since then, Kramer has been, among other things, the co-author of a coffee table book about coffee tables, a seat-filler at the Tony Awards, a Calvin Klein underwear model, an extra in a Woody Allen movie, the co-creator of the Bro (aka the Manssiere) and a soap opera stand-in. Never, however, has he been Kramre.

That spelling works as well as a reverse peephole. We can turn things around — and we can do so far less acrimoniously than Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep did when they settled their dispute in 1979.

In the case of Kramer vs. Kramre, the choice, like dominating a dojo full of children, is easy.

Turns out, Marion the librarian isn’t the only one who “needs a little Kramer.”


Thanks to my friend Lindsay, of IAMNOTASTALKER, for, ahem, rushin’ to notify me of today’s “Cosmo-Not.”