Thursday, May 26, 2011

Booby Trapped

Several months ago, my wife, Kim, was motoring down the expressway behind the wheel of our sexy Saturn Ion, bopping her head along to "Dancing Queen," when a fellow driver attempting a maneuver that should only be performed by a professional driver on a closed course rear-ended her. The resulting impact catapulted her directly into the office of a shyster lawyer, who is promising to make the disagreeable incident reasonably lucrative for her...and himself.

Today he sent Kim a draft of his proposed settlement letter to the insurance company, and it includes this line:
We note that the CL 19 completed by Dr. Russell indicates that Ms. Weber was breastfeeding at the time of the accident and was therefore restricted in the type and amount of pain medication she could take.
Hang on there, Matlock. You're saying that at the time of the accident, while motoring down a public expressway and listening to a wretched Abba tune, your client was also giving suck to a small child?

Never mind getting a juicy settlement. If this letter goes out as is, Kim will be lucky to avoid jail time.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Maybe Jesus is Just Not That Into You

Broadcaster silent as "Judgment Day" hours tick by
So goes the Reuters headline about religious wackjob Harold Camping who, after months--nay, years--of strenuous bloviating about mankind's presumed day of reckoning today, seems to be at a loss for words. But this isn't the first time the Lord has stood him up. According to the report:
Camping previously made a failed prediction Jesus Christ would return to Earth in 1994.
I think that sentence could ready simply, "Camping previously made a prediction Jesus Christ would return to Earth in 1994." We can do the "failed" math ourselves.

By the way, isn't the appearance of "false prophets" supposed to be one of the signs of the apocalypse? Uh-oh.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Is Our Children's IQs Learning?

Yesternight, while searching for a half-remembered epigram, I found myself leafing through a recent favorite: Death Sentences: How clichés, weasel words, and management-speak are strangling public language. It's all about how clichés*, weasel words, and management-speak are--how shall I put this?--strangling public language.

My languid leafing brought me to this passage:
The most dramatic example so far appears to be the news that in some parts of the United States parents have started legal proceedings against their obstetricians when, on reaching high school, their children's IQs do not meet expectations.
But of course it's the children who are reaching high school, not their IQs. Well, presumably their IQs go along with them, but you know what I mean.

*When I type the word clichés in Word, it automatically adds the accent over the e. No such intuitiveness in Bloggerworld, I see.  I actually had to type the word in Word, then copy it into the text here (3 times!)--a tedious operation that gives me new appreciation for those old-time typesetters who had to painstakingly create each line of text with calloused, greasy fingers. I have to lie down for awhile now.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Comma Chameleon

A story in the weekend edition of The Vancouver Sun (yes, I'm just getting to it now--it was maggoty with mothers here on the weekend) offers up some compelling background on the city's premier specialty video store, Videomatica, which--say it ain't so!--is closing its doors after 28 years as a 4th Avenue fixture. Damn you, cheap and efficient movie downloads!

Deep into the obit, the piece reveals that the cinephile's boutique-of-choice celebrated its 25th anniversary by compiling a list of their all-time top rentals. The chart-topper was the quirky British comedy Withnail and I. After that...
The top 10 was rounded out by Wings of Desire, Down by Law, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Betty Blue, Blood Simple, The Decameron and Baraka.
As countless movie nerds with hot-butter-stained t-shirts will attest, the title of the Russ Meyer schlock classic is Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! And when you have a series that contains an item like this with its own internal comma you need to separate said items with semi-colons to avoid confusion. As it stands, it reads like these are two movies: Faster (which sounds like one of those execrable Vin Diesel car chase pornfests) and Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (which sounds like a command given to a homicidal housecat).

A little detective work (ie: counting) tells me that the author of the piece did in fact think these were two movies, because only by cleaving the title into two films can you get the nine titles you need to round out the top ten.

Speaking of movie title missteps, the Huffington Post is reporting that Philip Seymour Hoffman is set to star in a big-screen jab at L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology. The movie, which should be a doozy, is the work of Paul Thomas Anderson, who, we're told, is
an Oscar-nominated writer/director, whose biggest hits include "Boogie Nights," "Punch, Drunk, Love" and "There Will Be Blood."
That should be Punch-Drunk Love. Although I must admit that Punch, Drunk, Love sounds like a sequel to Eat, Pray, Love that I would actually want to see.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Pro-Nouns and Anti-Semantic

Over at Slate today, the estimable Dana Stevens gave an almost begrudging thumbs-most-of-the-way-up to the new Mel Gibson movie, The Beaver. The film's release, you may recall, was delayed to provide some breathing room between us, the movie-going public, and the stink of Gibson's latest odious transgressions.

In any case, the movie is directed by Jodie Foster, who also performs in the film, and about whom Steven writes:
It's notoriously hard for an actor to direct his or herself on-screen, which may account for the lack of warmth in Foster's scenes with Gibson.
The problem here is that, while his and hers go together like Mel Gibson and raging misogynist anti-Semite, the reflexive pronouns are, of course, himself and herself. (True, hisself is a variant in some dialects, particularly those featured in movies where Jackie Gleason plays a sheriff, but not in Standard Written English.)

So how do we solve this? Some people--those with a sense of panache and derring-do--see an opportunity here to deploy a sexy suspended hyphen, like so: "him- or herself." But if that seems too risqué, we can also go with the stodgy but serviceable "himself or herself." Or, we can simply avoid the whole pickle by recasting the sentence: "It's notoriously hard for actors to direct themselves on-screen...especially when playing opposite a volatile misogynist anti-Semite."