Mighty Red Pen

March 3, 2013

The holiday of our people

Filed under: Grammar goddess — mighty red pen @ 4:19 pm
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Yo, wordies: You know what tomorrow is, right?

ngdbadge

That’s right: National Grammar Day. Check out the official website for resources, t-shirts, songs, this year’s installment of John E. McIntyre’s Grammarnoir serial, and much more.

 

 

January 17, 2013

Judgment day

Filed under: Grammar goddess,Spellbound — mighty red pen @ 8:07 pm
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Okay, I don’t really judge anyone for using poor grammar. I mean, not really

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Okay, maybe just a little. But just a little.

H/t someecards and Beth.

January 16, 2013

A little bit of haiku

Filed under: Mad marketing,Overseen — mighty red pen @ 8:32 pm
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I’m a little in love with the Target coupon booklet that came in the mail yesterday.

I admit I just flipped through it and almost tossed it without paying much attention to its concept, largely because it’s got the regular look and feel of most Target mailings. It was just lying on my counter this morning when the front finally caught my eye. I mean, what kind of line is “Hi, Coupons!”? What could it mean?

haiku pons coupons

So I looked at it a little more closely and read the line “(Or should we say, ‘haiku-pons’?)”. Underneath that, it said, “Stock up with poetic savings inside.” This was starting to get a little strange—and a little awesome—for Target.

So I opened it up. Inside, there’s a little explanation of what a “haiku-pon” is and how to write a haiku. Neat.

haiku pons coupons 2

Here’s how it works. You look at the coupons:

haiku pons coupons 3

You see a haiku (I mean, loosely speaking. These maybe don’t follow all the rules of traditional haiku). Then maybe you use one of the coupons. In tearing out one of the coupons, you expose the lines on the back of the next coupon.

haiku pons coupons 4

Now you have a NEW haiku.

Well, the end of this story is that I Googled the Target haiku-pons and apparently this is only new to me; they have been around for a while. And it’s not particularly good or high-brow kind of poetry.

But still, it’s poetry in an unexpected place. And for that, I kind of love it.

January 15, 2013

Up on a peddle stool

Filed under: Overseen,Pop culture,Spellbound — mighty red pen @ 7:47 pm
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In this little eggcorn, an unsuspecting YouTube commenter uses peddle stool when pedestal was the word they were seeking.

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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.

January 14, 2013

Don’t tread on me

Filed under: Overseen,Spellbound — mighty red pen @ 8:06 pm
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Apparently, folks in California are looking forward to a visit from one of their favorite folk heroes: Paul Bunion. Wonder if he’ll be traveling with his pals Tom Toenail and Harry the Hammertoe.

paul bunion bunyan

Here on the East Coast, we’ll be holding out for a visit from that other guy: Paul Bunyan.

H/t to my West Coast correspondent, who spotted this little tidbit in the East Bay Express.

November 21, 2012

Bonfire of the typos

Filed under: Overseen,Spellbound — mighty red pen @ 7:32 pm
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This little tidbit spotted in Metrowest Boston struck a certain chord:

Okay, here’s the deal. If you are buying a “a unit of wood cut for fuel equal to a stack 4 x 4 x 8 feet or 128 cubic feet,” then that’s a cord (M-W). If you are a strumming on your guitar by the fire that you have built using some of the wood from the cord you just bought, then you are playing a few chords (“three or more musical tones sounded simultaneously,” M-W).

If you get a very good deal on your cord of wood, you might be getting it for a song. But that’s a lot of chords. Usually. Unless it’s a very boring song. Then maybe only one chord.  But that’s a different story.

November 20, 2012

Not too shabby

Filed under: Overseen,Spellbound — mighty red pen @ 7:10 pm
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This little tidbit, spotted on Craigslist, absolutely cracked me up. The poster is trying to make their old table seem more appealing by labeling it as shabby chic. Instead, they mixed chic with sheik, and gave it a whole new meaning.

Okay, here’s the deal: If you are talking about “a male leader in an Arab country,” then the word you want is sheik (or sheikh) (Macmillan). If you are talking about something that is “fashionable and attractive in style,” then the word you want is chic (Macmillan). Is it possible for there to be a shabby sheik? No doubt. But when referring to furniture, the term you want is shabby chic.

Here’s more on chic-sheik as homophones and as eggcorns.

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.

October 30, 2012

Spooktacular apostrophe

Filed under: Apostrophe catastrophe — mighty red pen @ 6:41 pm
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Great googly-moogly, this ghoulish little apostrophe sure puts the “trick” in “trick-or-treat.”

This Halloween, don’t be haunted by the grocer’s apostrophe. When forming a plural, no apostrophe is needed.

September 19, 2012

A shred of a typo

Filed under: Overseen,Spellbound — mighty red pen @ 6:56 pm
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H/t to Captain Nemo, who spotted this little tidbit:

I love that someone looked at this and knew something wasn’t right and tried to make it better. Okay here’s the deal: When you have a box full of papers to shred, they are to be shredded. Not shread, and certainly not shreaded. Nice try, though.

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