Mighty Red Pen

January 28, 2009

On bidding John Updike adieu

Filed under: At home with MRP,Lit review — mighty red pen @ 6:56 pm
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So no doubt you’ve heard by now that John Updike has passed away. MRP has two things to share with you about that.

1. In honor of his passing, I resolve to actually read one of his books. Every book I could think of that I thought was one of his that I had read was in fact by John Irving. I welcome suggestions as to where I should get started.

2. In a conversation about Updike’s death, someone exclaimed something to the effect of “Are there any living U.S. authors  that are worth reading anymore?” My first reaction was, there, there, it can’t be all that bad. I suppose people would point to such authors as Philip Roth, Toni Morrison, or Joyce Carol Oates, for example. Mister MRP immediately suggested the aformentioned Irving and also Tim O’Brien. So I put it to you, dear readers: are there any living U.S. authors that are worth reading now that John Updike is gone?

January 25, 2009

Birthday spanking

Filed under: At home with MRP,Grammar goddess — mighty red pen @ 4:32 pm
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A birthday card delivered belatedly to MRP was worth waiting for:


And then inside . . .


Just for the record, MRP generally does not recommend correcting your friends’ grammar—especially not to their faces—unless you are prepared to beat a hasty retreat.

Hat tip to Mighty Quinn and Mrs. Mighty Quinn.

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.

December 27, 2008

What lies behind us

Filed under: At home with MRP,Lit review,Wordsworthy — mighty red pen @ 7:27 pm

A hat tip to la mama de MRP for a holiday gift that warmed this word nerd’s heart.


Okay, so I realize that it might appear as though this pendant is inscribed in Elvish, but in fact, it’s a lovely inscription in English:

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

So according to the little insert that came with the necklace and to the engraving on the back, this quotation is attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson. However, a quick online search shows that it’s also occasionally attributed to Oliver Wendell Holmes (see here and here, for example). If anyone can shed any light on this little mystery, please do.

December 19, 2008

To infinity . . . emboyage!

Filed under: At home with MRP,Kidspeak,Wordsworthy — mighty red pen @ 2:31 pm
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Mondegreen alert at la Casa de MRP.

S (age 5): EMBOYAGE!!
MRP: Huh?
S: Emboyage!
MRP: Where did you learn that word?
S: Um . . . it was Disney.
MRP: Oh, you mean “Toy Story”?
S: Yeah.
MRP: Buzz Lightyear?
S: Yeah.
MRP: Do you want me to tell you what Buzz is really saying?
S: Yeah, sure.
MRP: He’s saying, “And beyond!”
S: And beyond? Oh, okay.

Two minutes later.


August 15, 2008

Mighty feline pen

Do you think it corrects papers by high school English students? I’m thinking of getting one for Mister MRP as a back-to-school gift to help him out with the grading (shhhhhh. . . ).

Hat tip:I Can Has Cheezburger.

August 1, 2008

Going, going, gone

Filed under: At home with MRP,Pop culture — mighty red pen @ 7:24 pm
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La familia de MRP is going to make like Manny Ramirez and get the heck out of Boston.

But unlike Manny, we’ll be back in a few days. Hasta la vista, baby.

Photo from boston.com.

July 24, 2008

Like burning halava

Filed under: At home with MRP,Kidspeak — mighty red pen @ 7:13 pm
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While we’re on the subject of mondegreens, this one was overheard on a walk in MRP’s neighborhood.

S. (age 5): Mom! We have to run by this house!
MRP: Okay! We do? Why?
S.: Because the leaves on those bushes are made of halava!
MRP: They are? Oh my goodness. [pause] What’s halava?
S.: It’s like fire! It will burn you! Halava! Run!
MRP [pondering a moment]: Do you mean hot lava?
S.: Yes! Run!

Note to self: Only known volcano in Metrowest Boston area may be located directly around the corner from MRP’s house.

June 14, 2008

Scooby snacks

Filed under: At home with MRP,Kidspeak — mighty red pen @ 1:39 pm
Tags: ,

There are some days you think, “Wow, my 27-month-old is an absolute genius with language. Just listen to all the words he knows.”

Then there are the days you realize that words are still just sounds to him. Some have meaning, some don’t. A lot of times, when you think he is repeating a word you just said, he is really just repeating the sound.

This is most obvious with songs. For instance, “Baa baa black sheep, have you any wool?” becomes “Baa baa black sheep, ay ya ya ya woo?” But D. (the aforementioned 27-month-old) doesn’t care. Every song, no matter how mangled the lyrics, ends with lots of clapping and exclamations of “yea!”

I think my favorite example is the way in which something which is very clearly a group of words to me is just one big word to him. For example, I say to him, “Do you want me to carry you?” When he wants to be picked up, he says, “Carryyou!” Or if he wants me to pick up blankie, he says, “Carryyou blankie!”

In another example, I ask him “Do you want to take a shower?” So when someone comes out of the shower, he says, “Daddy all done takeashower.”

But I think he really reached a pinnacle today when he said, “I want to watch Scoobyscoobydoowhereareyou?”


March 8, 2008


Filed under: At home with MRP,Kidspeak — mighty red pen @ 12:55 pm
Tags: ,

D., who you may remember as the toddler who didn’t say much but then wouldn’t stop talking,  is rounding the corner to age 2. And apparently, there’s another word explosion to look forward to in the coming year.

For now, he has plenty of words and occasionally even surprises us with a sentence like “I want it” or “Daddy go.” Most of what he says is only intelligible to people who spend a lot of time with him, which is one of my favorite things about toddler-speak. How many times have you been with a toddler who completely babbled something and the mom says, “Oh, Pancho wants a graham cracker/his blue giraffe/a bubble bath.” Oh yeah, I totally got that.

For example, if you came to our house and Matman came running around the corner demanding tickle tickle, woggie, and a meema, would you know what to do?

S., age 4 1/2, has made some permanent contributions to the MRP household lexicon, among them pijeebays for pajamas and robot for bathrobe. I’d love to hear about any words that have been permanently changed (by kids or for any other reason) in the lexicon of your household, current or of origin.

And, oh yeah, if Superman came running around the corner at our house, you’d sing him “Twinkle Twinkle,” and give him a glass of water and a banana. Stat.

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