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.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Tying Up a Few Loose "Ands"

And a one and a two and a three…

The paragraph pictured above has and, & and and on hand. Tri-and? Try again. The first and can stay, but keep your other two ands off this sentence.

Did the writer’s overuse of and — spelled out and in symbol form — create confusion? And how! The best of us have written “and and” from time to time, but I’m flummoxed by the insertion of an ampersand — an and stand-in — in that and span. Symbols don’t often appear in lieu of the words they represent in the body of newspaper articles. They don’t often show up in blogs, either.

At × though, they do. A small % of writers think symbols are > words. I’m not so sure I agree, but I decided to try this approach for ~ ½ of today’s post. The treatment has its +s. When done proficiently, a # of words, like toxins during a : cleansing, are removed. The ™ of any good writer is the use of @ least 3 symbols per sentence, and 10 symbols in one sentence is the Au standard. During a brief . in the late ‘90s, I averaged a dozen symbols per paragraph, which was best in my age [. In literary circles, I was a *; I had no =. Enough boasting. It’s time for me to —. If my plan worked, I managed to elicit a :) from at least one reader. Was that you? It was? Ah, that’s ♫ to my ears.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

An Un-Y's Lawyer

When is a door not a door? When it’s ajar. (Groan!) When is a car not a car? When it turns into a driveway. (Double groan!) When is a lawyer not a lawyer? I think we have our answer.

Remember Trayvon Martin, the Florida teen whose killing made national headlines in early 2012? George Zimmerman, a neighborhood-watch volunteer, shot Martin. Zimmerman, who claimed self-defense, was charged with second-degree murder.

The facts in that controversial case are disputed. The facts in the following case are clear-cut. A writer is guilty of negligent misspelling, and the evidence is irrefutable. No public outrage this time. No protests by folks in hooded sweatshirts. I’m going by the book — and that book is Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.

I’m not interested in the letter of the law; I’m interested in the letter after the law. It’s e. Why? It should be y. Why is the y not abiding by law? Is it not law-abiding? I’m taking the “lawer” into my own hands and adding the alphabet’s penultimate letter. Lawyer is missing one of its layers. Why? I don’t know. Y? Yes!

Monday, March 9, 2015

By the Numbers

Two problems exist in the opening sentence — and both occur next to a number.

Points scored by Breanna Stewart
Should her point total be with or without with? Without. Definitely without. Withdraw, with, you withering preposition!

Points scored by the University of Connecticut
Nix the letter affixed to the word in front of 66. We want an a, not an an, and we want it anon.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Big Brother Is Watching You

For its lists of the NBA’s top rebounders, this newspaper has a go-to style: the player’s last name, followed by a comma and a three-letter team abbreviation in all caps. GOL, for example, indicates the Golden State Warriors, NYK stands for New York Knicks and POR is shorthand for Portland, home of the Trail Blazers.

The list looks proper on the surface. Burrow a little deeper, however, and you’ll come across a borough that isn’t so dapper. Acting like an intrusive government, I had this rebounding list under my surveillance for some time. One of my minions recently noticed nonconformity, which caused quite a bro-haha in our monitoring station.

On what team does Evans play?

He plays for the Brooklyn Nets, which in this paper’s style should be BRO. Alas, we’ve got a little Bro where a big BRO should be. To rebound from this broken Brooklyn, we must say adios to our younger sibling.

So long, Bro!

Monday, March 2, 2015

A Blue Hue Boo-boo

I’m blue.

I’m neither melancholy nor a Smurf, however. Well, I suppose I’m Grouchy, but that’s because I live in Connecticut, a blue state — and I’m not referring to politics. When it comes to weather maps, Connecticut is, it seems, perpetually blue.

In the map below, for example, my home state is tinted light blue to represent COLDER, one of four temperature-related swaths. I count four colors and four labels. That makes sense, map-wise and math-wise.

Do you remember the warmer/colder game? You search for something, and if you take a step in the right direction, you are informed that you are getting warmer. When you get really close, you’re hot, even burning! Move too far in the wrong direction, however, and you risk game-grade hypothermia. Let’s play! Can you find the error in the map pictured below?

It only shows 48 states?

North Dakota should be below South Dakota?

There is no A in TEMPERATURE?

Something is missing?

Something blue?

We need more boxes?
You’re on fire!

The map above has the blues … four of them, in fact. The majority of the United States is divided into four shades of blue. (For our purposes, let’s label them, from left to right, azure, blue-gray, denim and navy.) Yet the map contains only two bluish, boxed labels. Someone royally blew it. Why did the cartographer say cyan-ara to the labels for the blue-gray and denim zones? (I apologize for the colorful, Japanese-based pun.) The boxed labels fell off the map, a la Jake Lloyd after The Phantom Menace. They should, like reports that Captain and Tennille were divorcing, come out of the blue.

That concludes today’s color commentary. Stay orange (or at least yellow), readers!