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!