Friday, December 23, 2016

Give Each Other Space

Am I in the mall parking lot the week before Christmas? Am I one of the last passengers on a December flight, trying to put my carry-on in an overhead bin? It must be one or the other, because I can't find a space.

A couple of words in the Flight Before Christmas TV listing above are cramped tighter than airline seats in coach.

The blurb, like made-for-TV Christmas movie veteran Lacey Chabert and I, was made for "each other."

Have a holly, jolly Christmas, readers, and when you're filling out your holiday cards or wish lists, remember to put a space between eachword. Dammit!

P.S. Is the blurb technically correct? Can a plane strand people? People can strand people. Bad weather, like the snowstorm in The Flight Before Christmas, can strand people. High tide can strand people. A dead car battery can strand people. A lost passport can strand people. A plane crash can strand people. But a plane? That doesn't fly with me.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

In? One R. And Out? The Other

I'm going to say something that my mom, a home-shopping addict, never would: I'm not buying that, QVC.

I'm not buying what host Kristen Wiig and Cecily Strong were selling in their "QVC Auditions" sketch on last week's episode of Saturday Night Live. I prefer the variant spelling, pendant, but that's not the basis for my frugality. Neither is the missing hyphen in money-back. Are our ladies in red selling nautical ropes used to fasten a corner of a sail to the yard? No? Then don't dangle earings in front of us. Repair your broken jewelry.

Earings is to earrings what cubic zirconia is to diamonds. They're similar, but not the same.

What do I have in common with a small, button-like earring mounted on a metal post? Not much. Only one of us is a stud.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Place Your Betts

Ah, the Redskins. No team nickname in professional sports evokes stronger opinions. Some find it honorable; others consider it offensive. Is it right? Is it wrong? That’s debatable.

Ah, Betts. No player surname in professional sports is much easier to spell. Is it right? Is it wrong? There’s no debate — it’s right. Except when it isn’t.

Ladell Betts, a former running back, played eight seasons for the Washington Redskins. During a preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens in his final season with Washington, Betts sported a jersey that really, well, gets under my skin.

On Aug. 13, 2009 — less than four months after another D.C.-based team suffered a uniform breakdown, which I blogged about here — someone confused Betts with a different running back, Jerome “the Bus” Bettis.

You missed the Bus, Redskins; Bettis, a six-time Pro Bowler with the Pittsburgh Steelers, retired following the 2005 season.

So, lose an I. That’ll bring out the BETTS in Ladell.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Playing Hooky

Time for roll call.

S? Here.

C? Present.

H? Uh-huh.

O? [Raises hand.]

O? Here.

L? … L? … L? … L?

Where’s L?

Maybe he’s sick. After all, my best friend’s sister’s boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who’s going with the girl who saw L pass out at 31 Flavors last night.

Illness plays no part in L’s absence, in my estimation. I have a few theories about why that consonant, whose presence is as expected as “Have a great summer!” comments in your yearbook, is missing.

1. A child wrote the caption. I know lots of children dream of making school shorter.

2. The L wanted to be like Katy Perry, Al Pacino, Quentin Tarantino, Mark Zuckerberg and Charles Dickens, among others. They all dropped out of school. Some withdraw to support their family. Others do so to pursue Hollywood careers. Bullying, poor grades and an unexpected pregnancy are other reasons. Perhaps an expectant L was having a little l. Maybe L hoped to follow in the footsteps of his counterparts in the third and fourth positions on the famous sign overlooking Los Angeles.

3. An editor was careless.

Whatever the reason, my advice to the alphabet’s 12th letter remains the same: Finish school.

Mitra Farmand

Monday, November 7, 2016

An Err-Er

Is it ironic if you err when you err?

To err is human. To err instead of er is hellish — to an editor, anyway.

Err is a verb meaning to make a mistake. Er is an interjection expressing hesitation or uncertainty, similar to uh or um. Examples: Fourteen times six is, er, 84. The capital of Illinois is Chicago, er, Springfield.

When you're not sure what to say, say er. Otherwise, you err.

I'll let the writer off the hook, though. After all, to forgive is devine, er, divine.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

"Players" Came Out of Left Field

Er, delete er.

In the (doctored) words of Hamlet on the eve of The Murder of Gonzago, the plays is the thing.

Monday, October 31, 2016

A Presidential Assassination

There is no debate. I've found something on which even the staunchest Republicans and most liberal Democrats can agree.

Forget private e-mail servers and rigged elections. Ignore immigration, gun control and the Supreme Court. Put down the "basket of deplorables." Suspend the "locker room talk." I've stumbled upon something uglier than the 2016 campaign, a presidential nominee less appealing than Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.



The eighth word in the sentence is dead, or at least die-ing inside, and is not befitting the leader of the free world. Reminiscent of Alec Baldwin and Kate McKinnon in Studio 8H on a Saturday night, it's pretending to be presidential, but it really isn't.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A Broken Record

Gather around, readers, for a conference … about conferences.

A conference, for those who don’t follow college sports, is an association of teams, typically from the same region. The University of Florida, my alma mater, is in the 14-team Southeastern Conference, known in sports circles as the SEC.

The majority of a team’s games are against teams in its own conference, and the remainder of the schedule is filled with nonconference opponents. Florida, for example, plays a dozen regular-season football games a year — eight against SEC teams and four against non-SEC teams.

Does all that make sense? Good. Now check out the college football standings pictured below. They look good overall. The problem lies left of overall.

Conf. is short for conference, though in this case it’d be more apropos if it were an abbreviated form of confusing or confounding.

A conference record is a portion of an overall record. A team’s overall record is its conference record plus its nonconference record. (Conference Record + Nonconference Record = Overall Record) The numbers on each side of the overall win/loss ledger, therefore, must be equal to or greater than the numbers in the conference and nonconference records. More specifically, if a team has one loss overall, it can’t have two losses in conference. Impossible.

Not according to these standings.

If my alma mater is 5-1 overall and 3-2 against conference opponents, that means Florida has two wins and negative one loss in three nonconference games. That’s a broken record that must be fixed.

Florida has played six games this season, four in conference and two out of conference. Florida is 5-1 overall and 2-0 in nonconference games. So, to set the record straight, Florida is 3-1 in the SEC.

Monday, October 24, 2016

OR-CA: A Whale of an Error

That state you state. Stand by that?

The paragraph pictured above is from an article about the 30th anniversary of Stand By Me, one of my favorite movies. The majority of Stand By Me was filmed in Oregon, but the famous train trestle scene was not. The sun may have baked the Beaver State on that particular 1985 day, but who knows what it was doing 70 miles south at Lake Britton, near Burney, California. That is where Rob Reiner filmed four boys trying to cross a river during the celluloid summer of 1959, outrunning a train and adolescence at once.

So why mention the solar conditions in Oregon? Asking why the weather in Oregon is pertinent to a scene shot in California is like asking, oh, if you think Mighty Mouse could beat up Superman.

It's goofy*.

Make like Clark and Lewis (Why must Lewis always receive top billing?) and hit the trail, Oregon. Let California have its moment in the sun.

* There, Gordie, now you know what's goofy.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A Strange Bird

Which of the following teams is not like the others?

• Arizona (NFL)
• St. Louis (MLB)
• Stanford University (NCAA)
• University of Louisville (NCAA)
• Ball State University (NCAA)

It’s Stanford, which for the second time in less than two months is the unwitting subject of a When Write Is Wrong post.

Arizona, St. Louis, Louisville and Ball State are, ahem, flock-ing similar because all share the same nickname: Cardinals.

While those teams take flight, however, Stanford must remain grounded, because the leading research university’s nickname refers to the deep shade of red, not the bird. Stanford’s nickname has no s at the end.

Stanford was without an official nickname in 1892 when, following a football victory over rival California, local newspapers used “Cardinal” references in headlines. The nickname stuck … for a while. Stanford adopted Indians as the official nickname in 1930, though it was dropped in 1972. For the next decade, Stanford’s official nickname was Cardinals, plural. In 1981, then president Donald Kennedy “colorfully” declared that Cardinal, in its singular form, would be the official nickname.

As strange as it may look or sound, Stanford’s nickname has no s. You can bet the Farm on it.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Slight of Hand

What does the paragraph pictured below have in common with a person moving a piano, the electronic dance music group Krewella showing "Human" interest and me trying to tie a square knot on a gift box? You'll find out soon enough.

I see no traces of blood, which is strange, because someone severed a body part. To avoid doing further harm, the writer needs to hit me with another word near the end of the last sentence. Give me more after Moore's. I'm no masochist, but I'd feel a lot better if the writer would lay a hand on me.

Stacy Bengs / Associated Press

When you need help composing complete sentences, enlist editors. We can give you a hand.

And that's important, because whether you're moving a piano or performing an EDM song or tying a knot, we could all use one sometimes.

Even a miracle ...

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Kardashian's Butt!!!

Please disregard the title of today's post, which I used merely to lure you in. (Hey, it's all about incorporating keywords and generating traffic, right? Don't hate me for being SEO savvy.) I'm more interested in an unconcealed error than I am in an exposed Kardashian body part. Shocking, huh?

Anyway, when I read the teaser below on AOL's home page recently, one question came out of nowhere, like jewelry thieves in a Paris hotel:

Can something be great and not so great simultaneously?

Why yes, yes it can.

The unlucky 13th word in the teaser's sentence was born greet but, like some, had greatness thrust upon it.

Change the a to an e. Greet things will happen.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Storm Damage

When you're in the crosshairs of a Category 4 hurricane — an unwelcome Matt if there ever was one — spelling isn't Priority 1. Or 2 or 3, for that matter. Putting letters in their proper order takes a backseat. Safeguarding your home, securing food and supplies, evacuating and seeking shelter sit up front, hands raised, begging for attention.

Still, if in the calm before the violent atmospheric disturbance you're going to take the time to make a sign, on a piece of paper or plywood, you really should execute a one-syllable word with only one vowel. I'm not declaring this a state of emergency, but it does require disaster relief, editing style.

Leah Voss / Treasure Coast Newspapers

I'm seeing signs of a storm in the above photo, taken shortly before Hurricane Matthew unleashed its destructive power on the southeastern United States, but in the fourth word's center, or eye, which is where one would expect things to be relatively calm, chaos ensues.

Not to get too Norman Schwarzkopf-y, but desert strom.

Transpose the third and fourth letters and we'll brew the perfect storm.

Monday, October 3, 2016

I Have a Headache

Not tonigh, dear. If you refuse to go all the way, so do I. But as Bob Seger would attest, if you add a closing t, we've got tonight. Proper spelling is so hot, so satisfying. Yes. Yes! YES!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

An Unusual Period of Time

Minutes turn into hours. On very rare occasions, minutes turn into the absurdity seen below.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


I often yearn for simpler days, when as a boy I leaped from couch to chair because the living room rug was lava or shark-infested waters. My imagination took me places. Today I could reach into the deepest recesses of my mind, mustering whatever child-like imagination I have in reserve, and still I'd be unable to conceive that such an error could be a possibility.

My strongest objection is that toward the end, there's an inc- blot in our path that doesn't ring true.

Having too much of something — even something that always arrives first in a crisis and never makes a sound during an indictment and is big in California and can always be found in a pinch — isn't good. Don't binge-c.

It's time for incdulgence to hit the gym. Feasting on c rations has made it bigger, much like a first-year collegian packing on the freshman 15. If you exercise — caution, that is — when you're spelling, nouns like indulgence won't tip the scales.

Using one c I can see, but two c's? Cease. Please.

Monday, September 12, 2016

A Univer-city

Today’s error is reminiscent of “Affidavit Justice,”* a 2003 episode of King of Queens.

The law firm where Carrie (Leah Remini) works as a secretary is having a company picnic. Her deliveryman husband, Doug (Kevin James), begrudgingly tags along and ends up playing in a low-key softball game. Low-key for everyone other than Doug, who plays so intensely that he injures one of the corporate lawyers in a collision at home plate. Doug’s hustle and ability impress the firm’s senior partner, who recruits Doug as a ringer for the firm’s flailing team. Carrie is adamantly opposed to the charade, but Doug plays along. He’s even set up with a phone line … that Carrie must answer.

En route to the first game — in a limo — Doug is drilled by Carrie about his “law” background so he can cover his pretense. Here’s their conversation:

Carrie: Where did you go to law school?
Doug: I didn’t. I was home-schooled.

Carrie: Doug, c’mon! You said you’d let me coach you through this.
Doug: All right, fine. If anybody asks, I’ll just say I went to Stamford.

Carrie: I’m sorry, did you just say Stamford, with an m?
Doug: Yeah. Stamford Law School.

Carrie: OK, the school you’re thinking of is Stanford, with an n.
Doug: No, it’s Stamford. I know — I deliver there. I’ve seen the sign.

Carrie: OK, dumbass, you’re thinking of Stamford, Connecticut. OK? Stanford Law School is in California.
Doug: You know what? I don’t like all this negativity before a game.

The writer pulled an anti-Doug. He was thinking of the Connecticut city less than 20 miles from where I live but opted for the California city and its eponymous university.

Those two humped letters look similar and are adjacent in the alphabet, yet using the wrong one puts you off by miles. In this case, 2,583.5 of them.

* The title of that sports-themed episode is a play on words. It sounds like David Justice, a former Major League Baseball player.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Off by an Inch

Oh, the poor Sports Illustrated writer. He came within an inch of diverting disaster. Well, disaster is a strong word, but in the 20 seconds or so that it took you to read those three SI blurbs, Washington State running back James Williams shrank.

Hard to believe something like that could happen. It's probably a tall tale. But how tall? That is the question.

The height listed in the third blurb doesn't measure up to the one listed in the opening blurb.

Is it a case of early-onset osteoporosis? Does Williams have compressed discs between his vertebrae? Have the arches of his feet abruptly flattened?

No, no and no.

The case of the incredible shrinking man is simply a reflection of the good times and the bad times — the heights and the lows.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Dying to Be "Than"

I had no issues with the first seven words. Things were fine until then.

Until then.


Not now.

Use than. Then you’re right. Because in this instance, than is better than then.

Than is a conjunction or preposition used when comparing things. Some popular examples:

Blood is thicker than water.
The pen is mightier than the sword.
Superman is faster than a speeding bullet.

Then, primarily an adverb but occasionally a noun or adjective, denotes time, in the sense of “at that time” or “soon after.” Some popular (and not-so-popular) examples:

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in a baby carriage.
Life sucks, and then you die.
I saw an e and then realized the word was incorrect.

Than and then look and sound similar, but understanding their differences is key. Did you know, for example, that some people who use the words incorrectly would rather cuddle than have sex? The rest of us, on the other hand, would rather cuddle then have sex.

To make sure you’re one of the lucky ones who cuddles and has sex, try this mnemonic device: Then has an e. So does time. Than has an a. So does comparison.

OK, I’m finished. Come back in a week. I’ll have another post then. I hope it’ll be better than this one.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Nightmare "Before" Prefix

Before the regular season comes the preseason, a series of games in which players sharpen skills and get into top condition, and coaches evaluate said players. These exhibition games don't count in the the standings.

Before the reseason comes the P. This letter always matters. It's an important P — a VI P.

So, what happened to the pre-reseason P at 4 o'clock?

It occurred beforehand. (See the 1 p.m. listing.) In other words, it was preexistent. At 4 p.m. it was no longer pre- existent.

Like Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, it didn't take part in the preseason.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Remorse Code

007 373 596

Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B

Beverly Hills, 9021

Old-school gamers and fans of ‘90s TV dramas know an incomplete code* doesn’t work. The same goes for “Code” names.

The photo below shows a political activist outside the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C., in May. She protested. Now I must do the same. I object to one of her signs. Why? Do I have to spell it out for you? Fine. P-I-N.

Shawn Thew / European Pressphoto Agency
Color me surprised.

The anti-war organization is Code Pink, yet someone pink-slipped an integral letter from the sign in the woman’s right hand. Listing CODEPIN.ORG is as useful as stating that your drive-through order is “to go.”

I believe that’s the group’s co-founder, Medea Benjamin, rocking the “PINK void” signs, which only exacerbates the problem. She must have forgotten the old adage**: The domain name must remain the same.

Next time, add a K. ‘Kay?

Think PINK.

* Curious about the actual codes? Inputting 007 373 5963 takes you directly to Mike Tyson in the Nintendo game Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! Pressing up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A at the title screen gives you 30 lives in the Nintendo game Contra. (Not that I ever needed them!) The Fox teen drama starring Brandon, Brenda, Dylan and Kelly, among others, is Beverly Hills, 90210.

** OK, so it’s not an old adage. I just made it up.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A Prime Example of Carelessness

Dan Aykroyd. John Belushi. Chevy Chase. George Coe. Jane Curtin. Garrett Morris. Laraine Newman. Michael O'Donoghue. Gilda Radner.

Like the nine players who constituted Saturday Night Live's original cast, Sports Illustrated is not ready for primetime.

The writer got off to a precise start, but things went downhill fast after the first four letters. Consider it a prim- and improper spelling.

I prefer two words (hyphenated when used as an adjective), but either way, t should make like an 8:30 p.m. sitcom and be seen only once in prime time.

It should show up just in time.

Oh, too late.

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Series Of

In one hazardous word, so to speak, from this TV Guide article about the HBO limited series The Night Of, which concludes in six days, a certain consonant is as common as insults and accusations during our current presidential election.

This is the rare instance in which it’s best not to avoid the pitfalls. Do, however, eschew three consecutive l’s.

You won’t catch me falling into that trap. I know how to spelll.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Not Ag-ain!

Whoa, not so fast!

The modern Olympic Games began in 1896, but it wasn't until the 1904 Summer Games in St. Louis that gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded for first, second and third place. (In 1896, winners were awarded a silver medal, and second-place finishers received a copper medal. Prizes other than medals were given in 1900.) These medal metals are rooted in Greek mythology's Ages of Man, which are the stages of human existence on Earth. Hesiod, a Greek poet, wrote about five eras of humanity: Golden Age, Silver Age, Bronze Age, Heroic Age and Iron Age. In the Golden Age, humans lived among the gods. In the Silver Age, men lived for 100 years without growing up and were destroyed by Zeus because of their impiety. In the Bronze Age, men were strong but violent, and they were ultimately consumed by their warlike rage.

Greek mythology gave us our Olympic metals, but science provided their value system. All three elements* — which you'll find in the same column on the periodic table — can be found in their native form. Copper (chemical symbol: Cu) is the lightest and most abundant of the three metals. Gold (Au) is the heaviest and most rare. Silver (Ag) falls in between, in weight and abundance. To the victor goes the scarcest, most valuable metal.

In short, if you finish first, you win gold. If you finish second, you get silver. If you finish third, you take bronze.

So why did bronze dash off in this USA Today article, leaving silver in its wake? That second silver is anything but sterling. The third-to-last word in the paragraph should, like George Hamilton, be bronze.

In a race to meet his deadline, I suppose, the writer introduced an error. Next time, he should do something Usain Bolt, Justin Gatlin and Andre De Grasse (note the capital D) rarely do: Take it slow.

* Bronze isn’t an element, but it is an alloy consisting primarily of copper.

Monday, August 15, 2016

An Average Mistake

Falling short: Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve hit .541 in his first nine games after the All-Star break, but that's because he had 20 hits in 37 at-bats. (For those who are unaware, a baseball player's batting average is determined by dividing the number of base hits by the number of at-bats, then rounding to the third decimal place.) If Altuve had 20 hits in 47 at-bats, that would put him at .426. Still impressive, but it's a tall tale.

Monday, August 8, 2016

My Two Dads

Other wrong answers included Martin Crane from Frasier, Diane's (Ione Skye) father in Say Anything…, the beer-drinking character from Frasier who walks with a cane, Suspect actor John Mahoney and the man who voiced General Rogard in The Iron Giant.

Looks like the writer set his Frasiers to stun. I'm shocked that he didn't, ahem, white out one of those related answers.

The dad on Frasier
Frasier dad John Mahoney

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Thirst Aid Required

This teenage entrepreneur at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia has a drinking problem, so to speak. His sign needs treatment, so I'm going to nurse his second drink.

Ryan Mercer / USA Today Network
The sign's top line could use some aid — and some ade. The drink suffix used for many fruity beverages is –ade, as in lemonade, limeade and Powerade.

We've fixed the ending, but that's just the beginning.

The same word's five-letter reptilian start is a crock. Not a croc — and certainly not a Gator.

The popular sports drink is Gatorade. I should know. It was developed in 1965 at my alma mater and named after its mascot. A team of scientists led by Robert Cade, at the request of the Florida Gators football coach, created a drink that replenished fluids lost by athletes during competition. Interestingly, the researchers considered calling it Gator-Aid, but they chose not to for commercial reasons. If they marketed it with the "Aid" suffix, the FDA would classify it as something other than a soft drink and medicinal properties would have to be proved.

Anyway, in summary, aid doesn't help. And see you later, Gater.

Next time, kid, drink responsibly.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Fighting an Unlawful R Rest

On the road to triumph, there are struggles.

Well, there should be.

To paraphrase abolitionist Frederick Douglass, without struggles there can be no progress.

The headline's second word is having difficulty conforming. Blame the combative writer who fought proper spelling, losing an r in his struggles.

Oppose inaccuracy. Combat carelessness. Add the alphabet's 18th letter.

In other words, put up a struggles.

Don't fight me on that.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Carla Chameleon

Actress Carla Gugino had a role in the– Hey!

Quit fooling around, Entertainment Weekly!

Gugino plays a part in five of your six images, but I’d flush number two.

That’s not Gugino butting foreheads with Michael J. Fox. That’s Paula Marshall, and it’s not the first time she’s replaced Gugino on Spin City. Marshall played Fox’s second serious girlfriend on the show; Gugino was his first.

The photo editor who marshaled these images — putting a new Spin on Gugino — should have realized that No. 2 depicts the actress I know best from her role as the NYU reporter on Seinfeld who thought Jerry and George were gay … not that there’s anything wrong with that. Photo No. 2 shows a scene from “The Marrying Men,” a 1998 Spin City episode in which Marshall’s character, Laurie, mistakenly believes Mike is proposing to her.

Gugino and Marshall bear a slight resemblance, and both brunettes have appeared on Spin City (duh) and guest-starred on episodes of The Wonder Years and Californication. Still doesn’t justify creating a photo gaffe with your No. 2 photograph.

Marshall may have had just a cameo within your pages, EW, but her bit part plagued the entire production.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Behind the Times

When it comes to accuracy, I’m anal.

Don’t tell me Star Wars came out in 1974 when I know that a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away was not quite that long ago. Don’t tell me Elvis Presley died in 1974 when I know he put on his blue suede shoes for another three years. Don’t tell me the 25-hour New York City blackout occurred in 1974 when I know the lights stayed on for another 36 months.

And don’t tell me Olga Perez was the source of uproarious laughter in 1974 because, well, I can’t get behind that.

In a rundown of “the wildest game-show moments” in its current issue, TV Guide included an outrageous Newlywed Game incident, one long thought to be an urban legend.

The Newlywed Game, for those too young to remember, was a game show hosted by Bob Eubanks that pitted married couples against one another. Husbands had to predict how their wives would answer questions, and vice versa. Many of the questions dealt with “making whoopee,” 1970s slang for sex. Couples earned points every time a prediction matched a spouse’s answer.

For years, rumors swirled that a wife on the show, when asked to name the weirdest place she’d ever had sex, said, “Up the butt, Bob.”

Did this really happen? Many who were watching on syndication in the ‘70s swore it did, but many, including Eubanks, insisted otherwise. Eubanks even offered $10,000 to anyone who could provide proof.

Though the rumored quote was slightly off, the urban legend morphed from fable to fact in 2002, when The Most Outrageous Game Show Moments, an NBC special, included the infamous footage.

With his wife sequestered offstage, Hank Perez was asked the following five-point question:

Where specifically will your wife say is the weirdest place she’s ever gotten the urge to make whoopee?

When Olga returned to the stage, Eubanks asked her the same question. She could have said something like in the ocean, on a plane or, mirroring Phoebe in “The One with the Blackout” episode of Friends, in Milwaukee. Instead, after hesitating, laughing nervously and even seeking prohibited help from her husband, Olga made game-show history when she replied, “In the ass.” (Hank guessed that his wife would say “in the car.” No match. No five points.)

This bad ass moment remained an urban legend for years because, in part, the VCR mass market was in its infancy and cable television had yet to explode in the ‘70s. But when exactly during the decade of disco, bell-bottoms and 8-tracks did Olga share TMI with game-show fans? Not 1974. As Eubanks informs us in The Most Outrageous Game Show Moments, “The year was 1977.” Olga and Hank Perez were one of four couples on a “Maternity Day” episode during the show’s second run.

You can check out the Most Outrageous Game Show Moments clip here. Want to check out some audacious ‘70s clothes, mustaches and attitudes? Watch the entire Newlywed Game episode here. (Note: Olga’s infamous reply butts in at around the 8:30 mark.)

Are you curious how Olga and Hank fared on the show? They trailed two couples by a score of 40-20 with only one question remaining. It was a 25-point bonus question, and a correct answer would make the Perezes the grand-prize winners. Hank got it right. They won 45-40. I guess you can say they came from behind.

Monday, June 20, 2016

A Canadian N-vasion

Oh, Canada. Your neighbor to the south thanks you for insulin, Trivia Pursuit and Michael J. Fox, among other things, but you did give us Justin Bieber. It's payback time, Connecticut Post style.

I'm not sure what my local newspaper was thinking. Since when is the Great White North spelled with seven letters? A dollar coin in Canada is a loonie. A second n in Canada is loony. The first must be removed, like pennies from Canadian circulation.

Don't worry, Canada, I stand on guard for thee. I'll protect you from enemies foreign, like the Connecticut Post, and domestic.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Joe Name Myth

Many authors have written acclaimed novels under pen names. J.K. Rowling has Robert Galbraith; Stephen King had Richard Bachman. My former boss, Joseph R. Provey, had Joesph R. Provey. OK, OK — his nom de plume was more pseudo name than pseudonym.

Today’s error — it’s a doozy — is from a book I worked on years ago. I’m not to blame. I swear. The publisher, who shall remain nameless, was at fault.

The final proofs sent to the publisher listed four people on the title page: Joseph R. Provey and three contributing writers. All four names were spelled correctly. Let me reiterate: All four names were spelled correctly. The publisher decided it wanted only one author listed on the title page. Instead of deleting the three names below Provey’s, however, the publisher deleted all four and reinserted Provey — sort of. The misspelling rivaled in its outlandishness the full-length fur coats once worn on the sidelines by another Joe, former New York Jets quarterback Namath. 

First printing: Oh, no!

When the advanced copies arrived at our Connecticut office, it took me about six milliseconds to realize this was not your average Joe, but it was already too late; the error couldn’t be fixed until the second printing. I deemed it “an author I can’t refuse.”

Somewhere out there, 14,999 other copies of 1001 Ideas for Kitchen Organization exist written by a mysterious Joesph R. Provey.

Second printing: Much better!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Beautiful People

Left photo by Reuters; right photo by Tony Gentile / Reuters
Idris, meet Jessica. Jessica, meet Idris. In surname terms, Elba, meet Alba. Alba, meet Elba.

I’m frustrated by the seventh word on the second-to-last line above, which is hindering the synopsis for the 2013 biographical film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. It’s a true albatross.

We can turn this error around, though. It is, after all, reverse “able.”

Idris is not Alba-nian. He’s British, actually … and he’s Elba, actually.

Both Elba and Alba were named one of People’s 100 most beautiful people in 2007. They are each beautiful in their own way. Their surnames are each spelled in their own way.

Alba, you’re exiled. I sentence thee to the same Italian island in the Mediterranean where Napolean spent his first period of exile. That’s right, I sentence Alba to Elba.

I’d like to thank another beautiful person, my brother, for catching today’s low-flying Alba toss. I’d also like to take a moment to wish him a very happy birthday. He turns the big four-oh today. That’s forty, not fourty. May the Ninth be with you, Bro!

Monday, April 4, 2016

No Means No

Sometimes it's better not to know. This isn't one of those times.

Years ago, in the comments portion of an online article, I came across this whimsical poem:

Eye half a spell checker
It came with my PC
It plainly Marx for my revue
Miss steaks I can knot sea
I've run this poem threw it
I'm sure yore pleased too no
It's letter-perfect inn it's weigh
Four my checker tolled me sew

Spell checkers, like Little League right fielders or my spam filter, can't catch everything. Homophones are their kryptonite.

We need more than you, no. We need the verb relating to awareness or understanding. So, in the spirit of Ronald Isley and his siblings, I'll throw my hands up and shout:

I want you to know right now.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Cut From the Same Hoth

The Star Wars universe — the icy planet of Hoth, particularly — has its share of AT-ATs, those four-legged, canine combat vehicles used by the Empire. The paragraph pictured has a dissimilar "at at" in its fleet. An AT-AT is also known as an Imperial Walker. An "at at," from what I've observed, is an empirical stalker, what with the second at following the first much too closely.

You can't go wrong dressing your dog as an AT-AT (All Terrain Armored Transport) for Halloween. You can go wrong dressing your sentence similarly. Your words will clumsily collapse, like a lassoed Imperial Walker near Echo Base.

At, twice? Stop at once.

The second at must be left out in the cold.

Drop it like it's Hoth.

Monday, March 21, 2016

A Forgettable Sign

Poor Russ. He must be amnesiac, because he can't remember.

Capitalization notwithstanding, Russ managed to correctly spell the Libyan city where Islamic militants killed four U.S. diplomats in 2012. Somehow, though, his rember is short two members. Remember m-e. Transpose that, actually. Remember e-m. Those two letters, like a child in an acrimonious custody dispute, should be caught in the middle.

Embed e and m, for, you know, emphasis.

Emend your sign, Russ.

Don't forget: It's remember.