Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Look, I'm not proud of this, OK? But who among us hasn't had the experience of idly trawling the webosphere, mindlessly clicking links, and inexplicably ending up in some louche (and irresistably compelling) corner of cyberspace? In other words, I don't remember how I arrived at this slide show of "When Stars Have a Bad Day"--let's just say I was doing research and leave it at that--but I could not look away once I got there.

Among the photos of the stars and their cellulite and bunions was this snap of Sharon Stone with an accompanying caption.

Sharon Stone's eyes looked bruised as she shopped in Beverly Hills, Calif., Jan. 21, 2010. She wore a fedora and sunglasses that she eventually took off to conceal her dark eyes.

Remember when we covered the whole "that vs which," "restrictive vs non-restrictive clause" conundrum? Neither do I, really. Not in detail, anyway. But in any case, the above is an example of how a misplaced that  can sabotage the intended meaning of a sentence.

Obviously, one does not take off sunglasses to conceal one's eyes, but that's what this caption appears to be saying. If we throw in a couple of commas, however, and have which tap that on the shoulder and take its place, we get: "She wore a fedora and sunglasses, which she eventually took off, to conceal her dark eyes." The fact that she took the glasses off becomes parenthetical (and it explains why she is bare-faced in the picture) while the logical integrity of the sentence is preserved. That way, we gossip-loving voyeurs understand that she had been wearing sunglasses to cover her hideous, probably post-plastic-surgery bruising.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to passing judgments on