Tuesday, September 07, 2004

TV Mobster Involved in Verb Disagreement: No Injuries Reported

From a wire service story today about a traffic accident involving "Sopranos" star James Gandolfini:
Neither the actor nor the suspected drunk driver who collided with him were hurt in the crash.
Interesting. When I first noticed this story online this morning it said "the suspected drunk driver who collided into him..." When I went back to grab the sentence for this posting, I noticed they fixed that bit of awkwardness, but they left the incorrect verb lying there at the scene of the accident. It should say that neither driver was hurt in the crash.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

They'll Have To Turn In Those Leather Vests For Editing

In last Saturday's Vancouver Sun the headline reads:

I checked the body copy in case it was a typo, but no--the name of the biker gang appeared several times in the text, each time without the possessive apostrophe that is so obviously needed. As the Sun is a credible newspaper, I can only surmise that the Hells Angels, despite their reputation for grammatical punctiliousness, don't use an apostrophe in their name. I'll have to point this out the next time I see one of their associates.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

The Hard Part is Getting O'Hare and LAX to Fit in Your Cart

I was checking out a site about San Francisco sourdough bread (it's a long story) when I came across this sentence and its comically misplaced clause:
Many supermarkets now carry prepackaged loaves as well as most major airports in the U.S.
Finally, I can shop for bread and airports at the same time.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Cheech and Chong Go to War

According to the latest edition of the Tri-City News, which arrived today, local police units from various jurisdictions have banded together to take on the fight against marijuana cultivation. The headline--and I swear this is true--reads:


Friday, August 13, 2004

We Had a Gay Old Time

Just got back from dinner at an Italian restaurant that offered an appetizer served with a chickpea and garlic dip--the kind of dip I have come to know as hummus. This particular restaurant, though, serves homos dip.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

It Drives Me Nuts Everytime I See It

In the Book Sleuth section of abebooks.com, where readers ask for help in identifying half-remembered books, someone posted a request that includes this passage:
In 1996-97 I read a non-fiction book about a man who was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He was written off by his doctors but refused to go quietly. In his hospital bed, everyday, he would imagine the cancer shrinking in his body. He did this everyday for hours, laying there and focusing on the cancer cells shrinking to nothing.
This is a solecism I am seeing almost, well, every day. Everyday is one word when used as an adjective, otherwise it's two words. In other words, it's "everyday low prices" but "low prices every day." A distinction worth observing, I believe.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Did They Prod Him With A Pitchfork, Too?

Ok, this one isn't, strictly speaking, an error. But the I love the irony in this sentence from a CNN.com report, about a mordibly obese man who recently lost a few hundred pounds. At one point, he had weighed 1,072 pounds.
A group known as the League of Human Dignity helped arrange for Deuel to be driven to a local livestock scale, where he could be weighed.
Next, they're going to boost his self-respect by having him bathe in the hippo swamp.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

The Paws That Refreshes

Today's entry is from the slick and glossy (and mind-numbingly shallow) Vancouver freebie, Ion Magazine. It features an achingly inane, student-newspaper-style Editor's Letter that contains the following sentence:
Hit the accelerator in mid-September if you want, but now is summer and it's time to take your foot off the gas and put on the parking break, cuz every day is a spontaneous party waiting to happen.
Parking break? Give me a brake.

I won't even get into the whole "cuz" thing, or how something spontaneous can be waiting to happen.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Two From the Web

In a book review on Slate.com today, Dan Chiasson quotes from the new book Lads:
Itzkoff's promise to "consider the torturous path that any piece of copy had to follow before it ever appeared in print" might well mark the all-time low-water mark for the quest narrative...

Torturous describes the infliction of torture or pain. The word for winding and circuitous is tortuous.

Meanwhile, over at Salon.com, King Kaufman is dissing Craig Kilborn's appearance on ESPN:
As if he were ever anything other than just one more guy in a suit doing his version of Keith Olbermann's shtick. He was as original as the Monkeys, as fresh and new as the latest "Family Feud."

As someone who has actually schmoozed backstage with Davy Jones, I can tell you that the name of the band was the Monkees.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

An Itsy Bitsy Error

No time for reading today (yet) but I did come across this easy one in a flyer for the upcoming PNE fair:
Guests of all ages be prepared to be amazed, excited and entertained. In it's final season, Cirque Pop!, starring...
Once again, the poor harmless contraction it's is mistaken for its cousin, the austere possessive its.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Blurb Blooper

My 1987 edition of Bill Bryson's delightful Dictionary of Troublesome Words contains this entry for the word fulsome:

Fulsome is one of the most frequently misused words in English. The sense that is usually accorded it--of being copious or lavish or unstinting--is almost the opposite of the word's dictionary meaning. Fulsome is related to foul and means odious or overfull, offensively insincere. "Fulsome praise", properly used, isn't a lavish tribute; it is unctous and insincere toadying.

On the back cover of the book is a blurb from the Guardian newspaper that says that this edition...

Deserves fulsome praise.


Friday, August 06, 2004


Page 4 of Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee:

(Calling sweetly)
How-ard! (HOWARD, annoyed, turns and looks toward the voice. MELINDA, a healthy, pig-tailed girl of twelve, skips on.) Hello, Howard.
(HOWARD is disinterested, continues to search the ground.)
I realize that most dictionaries now accept disinterested as a synonym for uninterested (and indeed there is historical precedent for it), but it is still disapproved of by most prescriptive dictionaries, who maintain that the word means "unbiased."

I was surprised to find this usage in a 1955 edition of the play. I had thought that the shift in meaning was a fairly recent development.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

A Colorful Sense of Taste

Page 120 of Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris:
I'm worrying the thick gold braids decorating my sleeves when the waiter presents us with what he calls "a little something to amuse the palette."
It is the palate that senses taste. A palette is something a painter uses, and it is probably seldom amused.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

From Amazonia by James Marcus

Page 108:
I got out my pad and paper and waited.
Probably waiting for someone to bring him a pen.

Page 236:
He was a potential savoir, although you would never know that from my penetrating banter with Miles and Kyra.
He may have had savoir-faire, but I'm sure that's supposed to be savior.
Page 240:
As it was, the tremblor had cracked the dome of the capital building in Olympia
Here he's talking about an earthquake--in other words, a trembler.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

From The Perfect Mile by Neal Bascomb:

Page 122:
Santee was the promoter's dream. He saddled up to reporters to declare his confidence in winning--and yes, breaking the four-minute barrier was decidedly possible as well.
Unless he was wearing spurs and preparing to mount his steed, I'm assuming he sidled up to reporters.

Monday, August 02, 2004

The Case of the Exploding Microwave

I'll start with an old favorite. This is from an advance reading copy of a pot-boiler thriller from a few years back.

Page 39 of Gone, But Not Forgotten by Philip Margolin:
Alan took his TV dinner out of the microwave and rolled back the aluminum foil, giving the food the briefest of glances.
Aluminum foil? In a microwave? Evidently, he gave the owner's manual the briefest of glances, too.