Mighty Red Pen

January 16, 2009

George W. Bush: Out of the mouths of presidents

Filed under: Pop culture,Wordsworthy — mighty red pen @ 8:13 pm
Tags: , , ,

People, don’t misunderestimate the awesome linguistic power of a fully operational George W. Bush.

Jacob Weisberg at Slate has collected hundreds of “Bushisms” over the course of Bush’s presidency. In honor of our departing Commander-in-Chief, Weisberg’s compiled his list of The Top 25 Bushisms of All Time. There’s even a priceless video montage.

I don’t know if I could possibly choose but these are some of the classics that have always tickled me:

“Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?”—Florence, S.C., Jan. 11, 2000

“You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test.”—Townsend, Tenn., Feb. 21, 2001

“There’s an old saying in Tennessee—I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee—that says, fool me once, shame on—shame on you. Fool me—you can’t get fooled again.”—Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2002

Weisberg even tries to make sense of it all:

People often assume that because I’ve spent the past nine years collecting Bushisms, I must despise George W. Bush. To the contrary, Bushisms fill me with affection for the man—and not just because of the income stream they’ve generated. . . .

Being able to laugh at yourself is a rare quality in a leader. It’s one thing George W. Bush can do that Bill Clinton couldn’t. Unfortunately, as we bid farewell to Bushisms, we must conclude that the joke was mainly on us.

MRP wants to know: What’s your favorite Bushism?

Hat tip to Captain Moondog.


January 15, 2009

Hips don’t lie: Meringue vs. merengue

Filed under: Spellbound,Uncategorized,Word wars — mighty red pen @ 8:25 pm
Tags: , , , ,

MRP was disappointed to see this particular typo in the December/January 2009 issue of Hispanic magazine in an article called “A Family Affair” about actor Freddy Rodriguez.


Okay, here’s the deal. Meringue is a tasty confection made from sugar and egg whites that you might eat on its own as, say, a cookie, or you might enjoy as a delicious topping for, say, lemon meringue pie. On the other hand, if you find yourself shaking your booty to a lively Latin rhythm, then you might be dancing merengue.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who needs a copy editor most of all?

Filed under: Grammar goddess,Overseen,Wordsworthy — mighty red pen @ 8:02 pm

We couldn’t have foreseen it at the time but now Gussie Fink-Nottle writes to tell us that no, some things do not get better with age, that time does not heal all wounds, that not all who are older are, in fact, wiser.

Last year, ESP guy Robert Channing visited St. Mark’s School in scenic Southborough, Mass., and the resulting article on the St. Mark’s website, well, it left a lot to be desired.

Channing was recently back. There is much to make a copy editor cringe about the following write-up (including the fact that they lifted the lead paragraph word for word from last year’s write-up, but that might just be MRP being fussy). Take a look for youself:


There’s some pretty great repetitive and redundant word choices, for starters. Gussie especially wanted to point out paragraph 2, where they do a bang up job of a run-on sentence.  MRP particularly enjoys the liberal use of ellipses to indicate the end of sentences. Am I the only one who wonders about the “famous student with the ‘Dragon’ nickname”? If only I had my crystal ball . . .

January 13, 2009

An apostrophic feast

Filed under: Apostrophe catastrophe,Perilous punctuation — mighty red pen @ 7:49 pm

Hat tip to Sha for what’s surely a first for MRP: An apostrophe catastrophe from the great state of West Virginia.


Sha writes, “This is a menu cover from my favorite pizza place in South Charleston, West Virginia. Don’t know why they got wings right but screwed up on the others!”

They are extra apostrophes, to be sure, but why even put in the extra s in the first place when pizza, salad, and pasta would have done just as nicely?

January 11, 2009

More trouble on the MBTA

Filed under: Word wars — mighty red pen @ 3:00 pm
Tags: ,

Magnum PI returns to report some language hijinks that are afoot on the MBTA:

The MBTA has added a couple more PA announcements to the cycle. MRP readers already know about the dangler in the general manager’s message about safety. The agency has since added one discouraging the practice of fare-skipping. The chief of the MBTA police intones: “If you do not pay your fare, you may be citated by an MBTA police officer or official.” Presumably, he meant, “you may be issued a citation,” or even more simply “you may be cited.”

To which MRP can only say, Strong work, Magnum. Perhaps the MBTA should be cited for its incorrect use of this word.

However, showing himself to be as reckless as his namesake, Magnum continues, “But since I don’t know what citated means, I think I’ll try skipping the fare on my next ride to find out what happens.”

While I admire his gumption, I fear we may have a Magnum on the MBTA on our hands: And did he ever return? No, he never returned, and his fate is still unknown. He may ride forever ‘neath the streets of Boston, he’s the man who never returned.

Er, Magnum? Anyone seen Magnum lately?

Update 1/13: Thankfully, Magnum has been located. He reports, “Shortly after I submitted this post to MRP, the MBTA re-recorded (and re-transcribed, for the running-text LED signs) this message. The man now correctly intones, ‘You will be issued a citation by an MBTA police officer or official.'”

Well, thank goodness, we can all rest easy now that truth, justice, and the editorial way have been restored.

January 9, 2009

Beware of editor

Filed under: At home with MRP,Pet peeves — mighty red pen @ 5:50 pm

Okay, I’ll admit it. I know it’s hard to believe, but MRP is not always sunshine and unicorns. Sometimes, I feel like this:


Hat tip to I Can Has Cheezburger and Emily.

January 6, 2009

Ann Coulter’s sophomore slump

Filed under: Lit review,Mad marketing,Word wars — mighty red pen @ 7:52 pm
Tags: ,

Ann Coulter appeared on CBS’s The Early Show this morning to promote her book Guilty: Liberal “Victims” and Their Assault on America. Among other things, she and Harry Smith engaged in an interesting exploration of the word sophomoric (of  or characteristic of a sophomore” and also “exhibiting great immaturity and lack of judgment”). Check it out (starts around 0:44):

Harry Smith: Here’s my problem. Because you try to be funny, because you have this sophomoric, simplistic kind of view of so many things, the points that should be taken seriously–this whole section on single motherhood would be, could be part of the American conversation right now–because you’re so goofy, who’s going to take you seriously?

Ann Coulter: Well, for one thing, um, I think any comedy writer will tell you sophomoric is New York Times code for funny, so I thank you for that. . . .

A more perfect union

Filed under: Spellbound — mighty red pen @ 7:38 pm

Is it too soon to make jokes about Proposition 8? The Onion doesn’t think so. Check out “Typo In Proposition 8 Defines Marriage As Between ‘One Man And One Wolfman’.”

January 5, 2009

Let my lizard people go

Filed under: Pop culture,Spellbound — mighty red pen @ 8:39 pm

In honor of the strange dream I had last night about going for a drive with Al Franken and his mom, I post this little tidbit from Minnesota Public Radio. It’s an image of a ballot from the Franken-Norm Coleman race for the U.S. Senate plus MPR caption:


Okay, it’s hard for me to get past the whole Lizard People thing (sometimes a thing just strikes you as funny), but it appears to me that this ballot is not the only thing that should be challenged.

Hat tip to Z.

January 4, 2009

It’s that time of year again

Filed under: Uncategorized — mighty red pen @ 2:32 pm

Oh, it’s one of MRP’s favorite times of the year: when Lake Superior State University releases its annual List of Words to Be Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness.

Tops on the 2008 list are words referring to the economy (bailout), the presidential election (maverick), and the environment (green). Also making the list were staycation, Wall Street/Main Street, and First Dude. And, oh yes, it’s that time of year again. Check out the complete 2008 list.

Hat tip to Captain Moondog.

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