Mighty Red Pen

May 10, 2012

Romney hunts, shoots, and leaves

Filed under: Grammar goddess,Perilous punctuation — mighty red pen @ 8:09 pm
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We got a Mitt Romney twofer here tonight, people!

1. First up, h/t to Laura from Terribly Write for this little tidbit (spotted here) about Romney and Papa John’s Pizza founder John Schnatter:

Okay, here’s the deal: if you want to say that Schnatter is the guy who made a lot of money making pizza, then he’s a pizza magnate (a magnate being “a person of rank, power, influence, or distinction often in a specified area” (M-W). If you want to say that Schnatter seems to be a little soft around the edges from all the pizza he’s been throwing back, then he may very well in fact be a pizza magnet.

2. And here’s some more Romney-related fun, courtesy of Romney’s statement on the Second Amendment from his own website:

“Mitt will work to expand and enhance access and opportunities for Americans to hunt, shoot, and protect their families“? Isn’t that all the American people really want—to be able to protect their families but also have the option to hunt and shoot them if they desire?

Whoever proofread this awkward sentence should definitely get a vote of no confidence from the Republican candidate. They should have elected to undertake a rewrite of some kind that separated the notions of “hunt and shoot” from “protect their families.” And, finally, if Romney does make it to the White House, perhaps he should consider adding a Secretary of Copy Editing to his cabinet.

January 3, 2012

Britney Against the Comma

Filed under: Perilous punctuation,Pop culture — mighty red pen @ 7:32 pm
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There’s a couple of classic examples out there of the importance of a well-placed comma (Let’s eat Grandma vs. Let’s eat, Grandma, for one, and To my parents, Ayn Rand and God, for another). Here’s my new favorite one:

Okay, here’s the deal: There’s a difference between It’s Britney Bitch! and It’s Britney, Bitch! And I’m assuming that what she intends to do is to address Bitch with the news that It’s Britney, in which case a comma is called for.

But let’s not be hasty. Perhaps she meant that she’s Britney Bitch. Who knows?

August 7, 2011

Crazy, stupid, punctuation

Filed under: Perilous punctuation,Pop culture — mighty red pen @ 6:55 pm
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So I have been disposed to find the title of the new Steve Carell/Julianne Moore vehicle (the one with the words crazy stupid and love in it), I don’t know, lame at best. A little been there, Eat, Pray, Loved that.

And also, I’d like you to note, without commas in the ad. So I definitely did a doubletake when I saw the title referred to in text as Crazy, Stupid, Love. I mean, what’s with all the commas? (And oh yeah, that’s a period at the end of the title, too.)

That there were any commas at all came as kind of a surprise to me after seeing the ads, but that there were two commas seems, I don’t know, odd. It’s not like Eat, Pray, Love, in which a series of like things is divided by commas. With two adjectives and a noun (or a verb), it doesn’t stand up as a series. Are we not meant to think that crazy and stupid are adjectives that modify the noun love (in which case Crazy, Stupid Love would suffice)? Or are crazy, stupid, and love three nouns, as in, she is bringing the crazy, she is bringing the love, and she is bringing the stupid?

And I’m not alone. A quick search brings up many questions, but few answers. These guys don’t have any problems with it, but Nathan Heller at Slate refers to it as “the hair raising savagery of the second comma” (yowzers). Oh, what does it mean?

March 27, 2011

A cautionary tail, er, tale

Filed under: Perilous punctuation,Pop culture — mighty red pen @ 5:23 pm
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This photo that’s been circulating the Interwebs has Rachael Ray giving new meaning to her catchword Delish! by declaring she cooks her family and her dog. It seems to be living proof that the comma is indispensable.

It’s a photoshopped version of the original cover, but kudos to Tails magazine for having a sense of humor about it.

June 2, 2010

I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing

Filed under: Perilous punctuation,Wordsworthy — mighty red pen @ 6:51 pm
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Okay, I don’t think the Gulf Coast oil spill is any trivial matter, so let’s Walk This Way past the content of this for the teachable moment that it is:

See how this poorly written headline gives the impression that the Gulf oil spill threatens both bluefin tuna and Aerosmith dates? It makes me want to tell this headline writer to Dream On. Obviously, someone was on a Permanent Vacation when they wrote this.

It’s a Sweet Emotion to realize that sometimes people can learn from their mistakes. Thankfully, they refreshed the headline with something that didn’t leave me Cryin’, although they do lose something by ordering the less important item before the more important item (no disrespect to Aerosmith fans out there, I don’t want you to leave here feeling Jaded).

Spotted on boston.com.

December 15, 2009

Are these commas necessary?

Filed under: Perilous punctuation — mighty red pen @ 7:29 pm
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So here’s a little somethin’ somethin’ from the “Let’s Stump the Editor” files.

At La Oficina de MRP, it’s common to see this type of sentence construction:

Looking back, we can see all the things that point to Anakin’s eventual surrender to the dark side, from his love for his mother, to his stubborn nature, to his lack of self-control, to his growing anger at the Jedi Council, to his passion for Padme Amidala.

Crackerjack Copy Editor queried me: Are these commas necessary?

After puzzling it out for awhile, neither of us could come up with a rule one way or the other. My theory was that the commas stand in for conversational pauses and are therefore not technically needed. Crackerjack Copy Editor thought that “to” stands in for the comma or for “and,” and that therefore commas are not needed. We both agreed, however, that without commas, the sentence is cumbersome:

Looking back, we can see all the things that point to Anakin’s eventual surrender to the dark side, from his love for his mother to his stubborn nature to his lack of self-control to his growing anger at the Jedi Council to his passion for Padme Amidala.

Crackerjack Copy Editor suggested rewriting the sentence:

Looking back, we can see all the things that point to Anakin’s eventual surrender to the dark side: his love for his mother, stubborn nature, lack of self-control, and growing anger at the Jedi Council, as well as his passion for Padme Amidala.  

I agree that sometimes, a complete rewrite is just your best option, but I also think that in this case, the sentence is written the way it is for emphasis.

So I put the question to you editors out there: Would you use commas as indicated here or would you leave them out? And what rule guides your decision? Or finally, is a rewrite just the best answer anyway?

September 24, 2009

Who gives a f*ck about an Oxford comma?

Filed under: Perilous punctuation — mighty red pen @ 1:45 pm
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Just trying to prolong the magic of National Punctuation Day as long as possible. As the subject line may suggest, this video may or may not be 100 percent SFW.

Vampire Weekend – Oxford Comma

Feel free to post: Do you give a f*ck about an Oxford comma?

Hat tip to Today in Awesome.

May 4, 2008

Commas, commas, everywhere

Filed under: Pop culture,Wordsworthy — mighty red pen @ 1:40 pm
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The Onion was just on fire last week with the word nerd funnies. Check out a pair of them:

Commas, Turning Up, Everywhere

WASHINGTON—In the midst of a crisis that may have reached a breaking, point Tuesday afternoon, linguists, and grammarians, everywhere say they are baffled, by the sudden and seemingly random, appearance of commas, in our nation’s sentences. Read more.

Man Use Big Word

HERE—Tom, a guy who think he so smart, use big word Tuesday and make feel stupid. Read more.

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