Thursday, November 01, 2007


We're just going to pick on the Associated Press today. That's all there is to it.

Check out the headline:

Elaborate prank leaves Oregon officers in custody of gnomes
The Associated Press

That sounds interesting, right? How'd those gnomes subdue the cops? Did they use weapons? Enchanted buttons? Flatulence?

Read on...

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — A number of gnomes have taken sanctuary at the Springfield police station.

Somebody apparently collected 75 lawn ornaments from around town and then, on the night of Oct. 17, placed them meticulously on and around the lawn of one house.

Among the plastic and porcelain geese, deer and frogs are gnomes, such as a weather gnome outfitted with a rain gauge.

Police want to find the rightful owners.

"We need to get them out of here," Capt. Richard Harrison said. "Every time I leave my office they're sitting in my chair, working on my computer. I can't seem to get rid of the darn things."

There will be a public viewing Tuesday.

"If they come here and they can identify it," Harrison said, "we're more than happy to let the gnome go home."

After that the gnomes, and any other ornaments, will be sold at auction.

Oh... It's the other way around. The officers have the gnomes. Only flamingoes would care about that.

This is the trouble with stock expressions, like "in custody of." We get a little soft on what they mean, and sometimes use them in entirely the wrong way. This is what's happened to the expression "I could not care less." It morphed into "I could care less," which makes no sense. I could care less, only I don't care enough to care that little. What?

If you find yourself auto-inserting multiple-word expressions into your prose, stop. Make sure you're doing it right. Or someone might leave gnomes around your house in protest.

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