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Archive for November, 2010

I’m long overdue for a post about tattoo errors. Thanks to Anna for reminding me that hideousness exists outside of signs. And this hideousness is permanent.

Feast your eyes on these lovely examples of idiocy (of the bearer and creator):

At Least the Error Distracts from the Triteness of the Sentiment

Lord Give Me Strenght

The Revoluption Will Not Be Televised

Your Bluffing!

Latin for "Fail"

The top one is the only one that a tattoo artist can fix without too much trouble. The rest? Se jodio.

These are from a site dedicated to featuring the ugliest tattoos. (Warning: You could get sucked into hanging out on this site for hours!)

Maybe I should send in this photo I took at the Summer Redneck Games. It fits in rather well, doesn’t it?

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On this day of thanksgiving, I am thankful for family, friends, health, a great job, and all of the usual things.

And I’m also thankful for punctuation.

  • Quotation marks: Thank you for telling us when someone else starts talking and finishes, helping us recognize exact language in other instances, and also when a word is not being used in its usual sense. I feel awful that people incorrectly use you to emphasize a word.
  • Parentheses: Without you, we would not know that the writer is offering an aside (information that is useful, but not crucial).
  • Brackets: You are underused, I think, because people don’t know what to do with you. You set text apart, insert some information, identify clarifications, enclose missing material, and help out in math. Perhaps you are not as common as [several other marks] but you are useful nonetheless. Thanks!
  • Ellipsis: People like to add to you. But it’s nice that you have just three simple characters … and that you show that the writer omitted something.
  • Hyphen: Thank you for connecting words to modify a noun. Without you, the phrase “dirty-movie theater” wouldn’t be as interesting. We also appreciate the way you create numbers, show time periods and create fractions.
  • Dash: You are another mark with substance — like a super hyphen — to show change in thought or that the speaker has been interrupted. Thank you for your heavy lifting. (Note: I’m talking about the “em dash” here. AP Style doesn’t recognize the “en dash,” so I don’t either.)
  • Question mark: Do you know how useful you are? Thank you for allowing us to ask a question. And in Spanish, you get all fancy!
  • Exclamation point: You are the sad victim of abuse. It’s terrible! When used sparingly, you provide an element of excitement. Thank you!
  • Apostrophe: Thank you for letting us know what belongs to whom, and when some letters are missing. You’re the best!
  • Comma: We appreciate your ability to link similar items, but also show difference.
  • Semicolon: You’re like a super comma; we celebrate you because you are completely awesome.
  • Colon: You are more substantial than a comma or semicolon, but not quite as burly as a period. In addition to making introductions, you do other important things: separate hours from minutes, chapter from verse, and two numbers in a proportion. Thanks.
  • Period: We celebrate your ability to end a thought. Period.

Thank you, handy symbols — not just today, but every day!

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After reading some of the things people post on Facebook and Twitter and then having an e-mail argument with my sons’ barely literate soccer coach*, I’m even more concerned about the sad state of education in the United States.

Even John Cusack needs help.

I asked the students in my Business and Professional Writing class if they ever had to diagram a sentence. I was happy to see that most of them had, and they had done it in middle school.

Clearly some teachers are paying attention to fundamentals.

So can anyone explain this?

Or this?

I’d better not watch “Waiting for Superman” if I want to stay out of a fetal position.

 

*The apostrophe placement is correct; my sons play on the same team.

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Not quite ready for MMA*

You may have noticed in my posts about going to the dreaded gym that I had not attended a kickboxing class. And kickboxing is kind of a staple of every group class lineup.

OK, I was afraid.

And it seemed weird because that’s what Eddie teaches at Club SCAD. I’m not about to take one of his classes, for reasons that are probably obvious to married couples.

That all changed Tuesday when the kickboxing groupies at the Y sort of swept me into that class after the “Awesome Abs” class. I rationalized it as a good way to continue lowering my cholesterol. (The doctor said my elevated cholesterol could be genetics, or might not be. That’s doctor-speak for “Put down the bacon, Woman.”)

I lasted 30 minutes in the class. There was a lot of kicking and pseudo-boxing, naturally, and some jumping jacks, which equaled uncomfortable jiggling.

That could be me in the green, checking to make sure the leg's not broken.

The moves were easier to pick up than Zumba, so I think I might grow to like it.

I’ll just wear a better bra.

 

* Mixed martial arts

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Gideon has been very interested in music lately, and I’ve been playing all sorts of music for him. I try to give him a little history of the song and the artist as we’re listening.

I’ve been feeling very Jack Black from “School of Rock” (which I watched again today).

My musical taste is all over the place — everything except rap and classical. Yet I’m afraid my favorite songs can be classified as white girl music.

To illustrate this, and to make a cheap ploy to get comments on my blog (even if they mock me), here is the list of songs I listen to in hell (ie. The Gym).

I refuse to be ashamed that Britney Spears and Hanson are on this list. Let the mocking begin.

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Why is it so hard for people to know when to use “I” and “me” in a sentence?

I think it is easy. It is easy for me. Subject vs. object.

I blame Bryan Adams, Lady Gaga, and, yes, even Stevie Wonder.

People hear songs with pronouns used incorrectly and must think, “Well, if Stevie does it, it must be right.”

Here we are on earth together,
It’s you and I. — Stevie Wonder, “You and I”

Yeah something about
Baby you and I. — Lady Gaga, “You and I”

She says her love for me could never die
But that’d change if she ever found out about you and I. — Bryan Adams, “Run to You”

In all of these cases, the proper pronoun is “me.” The indicator for the last two is the word “about.” That word is a preposition. The pronouns are objects of that prepositional phrase.
An easy way to tell which word to use is to take out “you and.” If you do that, the Lady and Dudes just sound silly:
  • “It’s I”
  • “Something about I”
  • “Found out about I”

Don’t be afraid of “me.”

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Loyal reader Tom requested — nay, commanded — that I return to the topic of grammar. Here’s his full note:

As you wish, Tom. How about a grammar subset?

Let’s talk about apostrophes, as they seem to be the bane of the existence of many.

Apostrophes have two major jobs: They show possession or they indicate that something is missing.

Job 1: Showing possession

Many of the signs featured on this blog show words with apostrophes where there shouldn’t be any. Why? I don’t know. Maybe the sign creators thought, “This looks boring. Let’s spice it up with something unnecessary and wrong.”

Maybe the sign creators at Goodwill just got confused:

The way it reads now makes me ask, “Goodwill salutes veteran’s WHAT? Ability to shop?” (I will not get into the various other atrocities on this sign, such as the use of “currently,” the misspelled word, and the incorrect abbreviation. Well, I guess I just did.) “Veteran’s Day” also is incorrect (should be “Veterans Day”), but I can understand the thought process behind that.

Remember: Use an apostrophe when you want to show that something belongs to someone. Think carefully about who is possessing what. For example, I could write that I belong to the PTO at Dominic’s school.

  • Is it a parent’s association? That would be a group belonging to one parent.
  • Is it a parents’ association? That would be a group belonging to two or more parents.
  • Is it a parents association? Yes, because it is a group made up of parents.

Job 2: Indicating missing characters

Contrary to popular belief, “It’s” is not the possessive for “it.” Only use “it’s” as the contraction for “it is” or “it has.” The possessive of “it” is “its”: The beast went back into its lair.

A common phrase in the South is “y’all.” Note the apostrophe. “Y’all” is a contraction for “you all.” The apostrophe indicates that “o” and “u” are missing.

 

The Oak Ridge Boys have written it correctly.

 

 

So has Toby Keith, but he has made a different mistake. Read on.

 

Similarly, if you want to talk about the 1980s, and you want to use an apostrophe to shorten it, you would write “’80s” because the “1” and the “9” are missing.

Toby Keith has abbreviated “shocking,” so he really needs an apostrophe before and after the “n” — similar to “rock ‘n’ roll.”

See how easy that is?

I realize that these rules don’t explain things like “won’t.” I can’t explain everything.

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