Mighty Red Pen

July 15, 2014

Surf’s up in Rivendell

Filed under: Grammar goddess,Lit review,Pop culture — mighty red pen @ 8:05 pm
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So you know that whole thing about how the elves in The Lord of the Rings are all, so, we’re getting in our fancy boats and sailing off into the sunset on our exclusive party cruise? Well, they said that’s what they were doing, but I think “west” must be code for “settling down in Cape Cod and opening a paddle shop.” ‘Cause look what I found.










In other news, if you have not yet heard “Weird Al” Yankovic’s clever and word nerd-baiting tune, “Word Crimes,” what in Middle-earth are you waiting for? You’re welcome.

January 15, 2013

Up on a peddle stool

Filed under: Overseen,Pop culture,Spellbound — mighty red pen @ 7:47 pm

In this little eggcorn, an unsuspecting YouTube commenter uses peddle stool when pedestal was the word they were seeking.






Peddle stool (or pedal stool) seems to be a somewhat common rendering of pedestal (as documented, for example, by the Eggcorn Database and Brians’ Common Errors in English Usage) but what people understand a peddle stool (or pedal stool) to even be is kind of beyond me. Anyone got any ideas?

A quick perusal of the InterWebs leads to all kinds of eggcorn-related amusement, though. This guy sings a whole song about being put up on a peddle stool. Over at Language Log, there’s an entire essay composed of eggcorns. And tv show “The IT Crowd” got some mileage out of the joke.

November 19, 2012

I saw the sign

Filed under: Pop culture,Wordsworthy — mighty red pen @ 7:08 pm
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This sentence is possibly one of the most tortured pieces of writing I have come across in a long, long time. It appeared in an article about a recent performance Aerosmith gave outside the Boston apartment building they used to live in back in the day.

“Across the street from 1325 Commonwealth Ave. is a sign that Aerosmith band members wrote in a book they would see when they walked out the front door of their apartment building during the early 1970s.”

Here’s the problem: this poor little sentence is trying to do too many things at once. Is it a sign they wrote in a book? Is it a book they would see when they walked out the front door of their apartment building? Or is it neither of these? My red pen is itching to get at it.

From the rest of the article, we find out that it’s a sign they would see when they walked out of their apartment and that they wrote about in a book. But that’s a long way to get there from here. With a little editing, this sentence could be pared down and reordered to reflect that, something like this (for example):

“Across the street from 1325 Commonwealth Ave. is a sign that Aerosmith band members would see when they walked out the front door of the apartment building, which they lived in during the early 1970s. They wrote about seeing the sign in their book.”

But unfortunately, that’s a lot less interesting than the idea of them writing a sign in a book they would see when they walked out of their apartment. And hey, it was Aerosmith, and it was the 1970s. Anything was possible.

July 17, 2012

This typo was made for walking

Filed under: Lit review,Overseen,Pop culture,Spellbound — mighty red pen @ 6:15 pm
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Yes, I admit it: I read Fifty Shades of Grey. And I’m left with very little to show for my investment other than a renewed appreciation for the deft touch of an editor.  Even if nothing could have been done to prevent the relentless repetition (okay, we get it! He’s turned on when she bites her lip! Her breath hitches when something exciting happens! His eyes are grey!) (seriously, his name is Grey and his eyes are grey?), at least perhaps this little typo on page 428 could have been prevented:

Okay, here’s the deal: If you’re talking about strappy summer shoes, you are wearing sandals. If you’re wearing sandles, well, then you are in desperate need of an editor.

June 5, 2012

Saturday night’s alright for typos

Filed under: Overseen,Pop culture — mighty red pen @ 7:03 pm
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Wow, well, we’ve all seen Elton John in some pretty crazy outfits, but this one just about takes the cake, doesn’t it? I didn’t even recognize him there for a moment.

Oh wait, I see. It’s, um, not Elton John.

Typo (which has since, unfortunately, been fixed) spotted on boston.com.

May 24, 2012

It’s a typo, old sport

Filed under: Pop culture,Spellbound — mighty red pen @ 7:07 pm
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So, wordies,  behold the trailer for Baz Luhrmann’s take on The Great Gatsbytypo and all:

What’s that, you say? A typo in the trailer? Yes, feast your eyes about, oh, 0:13 for a shot of Luhrmann’s folly:

See that? Where it says Zeigfield Zeigfeld instead of Ziegfield Ziegfeld? Only time will tell whether Luhrmann’s rendition will be worth seeing, but as far as this typo is concerned, there’s nothing great about that.

February 22, 2012

Love some links

Filed under: Overseen,Pop culture — mighty red pen @ 6:47 pm
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•  Cartoonist Mark Parisi on the importance of proofreading and other editorial matters. Because, yes, it makes a difference if you tell someone pretty that they’re petty.

•  xkcd on what happens when you what you want is Etymology Man but you accidentally call Entomology Man. I know, it’s so easy to mix those two up, but sometimes it really matters.

•  Cats as fonts!  I mean, who can resist the opportunity to make fun of Comic Sans? Againvia @wisekaren

February 13, 2012

A thousand words

Filed under: Pop culture,Wordsworthy — mighty red pen @ 7:49 pm
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Recently, I had the chance to see Pilgrimage, the Annie Leibovitz exhibit currently at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. There’s plenty here to delight word nerds: photographs of Emily Dickinson’s dress, Virginia Woolf’s writing desk, Thoreau’s bed, Emerson’s hat . . . the list goes on.

My particular favorite was a photo of the journal of Bronson Alcott. It’s one of several photographs taken at Orchard House in Concord, Mass. Take a close look—you’ll see the outline of Bronson’s hand enclosing the much smaller outline of the hand of his daughter Louisa May Alcott.

Visit here for more images from this exhibit. If you can’t make it to Washington, D.C., the exhibit will begin its national tour in June at the Concord Museum. Watch a video about Pilgrimage.

January 9, 2012

The elements of stylin’

Filed under: Lit review,Pop culture,Wordsworthy — mighty red pen @ 7:23 pm

It’s the Elements of Style rap by Columbia grad students Jake Heller and Ben Teitelbaum. What will they think of next?


Bonus MRP moments

  • What’s the most embarrassing typo you can make from “herniated disk”? Yeah, that happened (via Bill Walsh).
  • Check out the American Dialect Society’s 2011 Word of the Year nominees, in such categories as “Most Creative,” “Most Unnecessary,” and “Most Euphemistic.” I’m sure it’s not giving anything away to reveal that occupy took the top honors, although I was kind of partial to kardash and mellencamp.

January 8, 2012

This error’s got me feeling so Blue … Ivy

Filed under: Overseen,Pop culture — mighty red pen @ 7:29 pm

That ha-ha-thunk sound you hear? That’s the sound of me laughing my head off. And no, it’s not because Beyoncé and Jay-Z named their child Blue Ivy. It’s because of this error, which is such a D-U-M-B copyediting mistake that laughing is the only thing to do.

Here we have an article about Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s new baby girl. As pointed out by the article, some people are confused by the name: Is it Blue Ivy or Ivy Blue?

Okay, we’ve now established it’s Blue Ivy, right? Definitively established that the child’s name is BLUE IVY. Right?

Which is why you have to do a complete double take a few paragraphs later when you arrive at this query:

Um, what do I think of the name Ivy Blue? I don’t know! Who cares? The child’s name is Blue Ivy! Which was well-established several paragraphs earlier! By you!

Somewhere, there’s a copy editor that’s feeling pretty, um, blue.

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