Tuesday, February 14, 2012

With This Hyphen, I Thee Wed

The inexorable march toward marriage equality picked up its pace yesterday with this news, as headlined at HuffPo:
Washington Gay Marriage Bill Signed Into Law By Governor Chris Gregoire
After recounting the details of this legislative triumph, the report advises us that
Separately, an anti-gay marriage initiative was filed at the beginning of the session, but the language is still being worked out so no signatures have been collected yet. An initiative alone would not pause the law.
This reminds me of the "orange juice salesman" conundrum from Bill Walsh's Lapsing Into a Comma. The phrase could be construed as describing a juice salesman who is orange, so he suggests employing a hyphen, like so: "orange-juice salesman." Even though "orange juice" is not normally hyphenated, this helps alleviate the confusion and unintended comedy.

That's why I think "anti-gay-marriage initiative" may be the way to go here. As it stands, "anti-gay marriage initiative" could be taken to mean a marriage initiative that is anti-gay. Hmm. On second thought, perhaps it is accurate the way it is.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Copy-Editing the Neighborhood

I can't blame these local merchants for not wanting their allotment of customer parking to be hijacked by those smelly construction goons who are erecting the first monolithic apartment tower in our cozy little 'burb...

...and we can even chalk up the missing apostrophe in "owners" and the unorthodox spelling, "expence", to the heat of the moment. But "Lyons Park"? The reader of this sign need only swivel his or her noggin 90 degrees to the left to see this:

Swiveling my perplexed noggin 90 degrees in the other direction, I see the Thai restaurant that Kim and I Grouponed our way into a few weeks ago. Alas, that evening was over before it began when our dinner guest, Professor Stephen Hawking, saw this sign at the maitre d's podium...

...gave a synthesized grunt of dismay, and swung a deftly executed, motorized U-ee. We were, as you can imagine, mortified.

Continuing into the north side of PoCo (which you really shouldn't do--we star-bellied Sneetches tend to stick to the south side), we find this sign in the window of what was formerly a Rogers Video location:

Here's a handy tip about spotting danglers; if you stop reading shortly after the first comma, the game is up. In other words, if you just read "As a valued customer, we..." you instantly see the problem. This Rogers outlet is not a valued customer. Hell, they're obviously not even a valued retailer, given the forlorn state of these premises and the fact that video stores in general are becoming about as relevant as blacksmiths in today's commercial landscape.

Let's ponder that over an over-priced coffee, shall we? There's a Starbucks just a couple of blocks away from home we can go to (although I suppose by now the name "Starbucks" implicitly includes the phrase "a couple of blocks away"). It's still light out, not even crepuscular*, and yet we can still enter through this door, despite what the sign says:

Why? Because the sign doesn't make any sense, does it? Why lock the doors of the alternate back entrance during daylight hours, only to open them under cover of darkness, when undesirables from the north side could be lurking? Clearly, they have their dawn and dusk transposed.  But the sign has been there since video stores were popular and nobody seems to have noticed. I just consider it part of our small town charm.

*Crepuscular : "of or relating to twilight." Despite my wife's objections (she thinks it's an ugly word) I think this is a great word to wedge into everyday conversation. "I don't feel like watching The Twilight Zone tonight, dear. I find it too crepuscular."