Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Nobody's Perfect

We are big fans of a business called Lusty Lady (there are two: one in Seattle, and one in San Francisco). It's not because we are into peep shows, but rather, because they are so good with a pun.

Years ago, when Microsoft was having a conference, their sign read: CHECK OUT OUR WINDOWS 95! Lately, we've enjoyed HAPPY SPANKSGIVING! (Could HAPPY BLUE YEAR be next? Nah. They'll do better than that.)

And now comes this tidbit from Bryan Garner, from which we can only conclude that the Lusty Lady should actually be called the Lustful Lady:

"Lustful" is the narrower word, meaning "driven or excited by sexual lust" {long, lustful looks}.

E.g.: "People of any sexual orientation can be violent or lustful."
"Breakthrough on TV as Nation Faces Gay, Lesbian Issues," USA Today, 27 Mar. 1997, at A12.

"Lusty" is broader and typically lacks the other word's sexual connotations; it means either "vigorous, robust, hearty" {a lusty appetite} or "spirited, enthusiastic" {a lusty performance of The Tempest".

E.g.: "The UT-Chattanooga pep band has a nice routine where it plays a lusty version of the classic Chattanooga Choo-Choo." David Climer, "Mocs Sing Last Verse for Illini," Tennessean, 17 Mar. 1997, at C1.o

"He tries desperately to reclaim his character's lusty youthful bravura." Lucia Mauro, "Next Theatre Takes Bard on Stylish Romp," Chicago Sun-Times, 3 Apr. 1997, Features §, at 34. Sometimes writers misuse "lusty" for "lustful" -- e.g.: "The affair included 400 e-mail communications, cyber sex and, finally, long and lusty [read 'lustful'] phone calls." Kathleen Kernicky, "Caught in the Net," Sun-Sentinel (Ft. Lauderdale), 3 Nov. 1996, at E1.

So, while we still admire their frisky puns, we must write and ask them to change their name. For the sake of accuracy, for the sake of the tourists...who are we kidding? It's for the sake of receiving a reply from the Lusty Lady.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Playful Apostrophe

A friend of SPOGG snapped this picture on the playground of a gated community in a lovely seaside town. At first, we were very concerned about the effect of the sign's punctuation on children.

Then, we realized two things:
- At least the sign doesn't say "SLOW CHILDREN AT PLAY"
- Clearly, the apostrophe is engaged in a game of hide-and-seek. It belongs after KIDS, but has hidden itself between the T and S of RESIDENTS, instead. What fun! Don't tell, but next time, we're going to look for it in GUESTS. Hoo, boy!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Proposition We Can't Refuse

Oh, how we *wish* this were an actual typo in California's Proposition 8, instead of just hilarity from The Onion:

Typo In Proposition 8 Defines Marriage As Between 'One Man And One Wolfman'


Thursday, December 18, 2008

That Is a Very Large Heart

This just in...

Human-sized heart found at the Paw Paw car wash

PAW PAW, Mich. -- A human-sized heart found at a southwestern Michigan car wash has investigators wondering whether it came from a person or an animal. The organ was discovered in a corner of a manual wash bay at Soapy's Car Wash, Paw Paw police said. The owner of the business found it Monday on the floor of the bay, according to WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids and WWMT-TV in Kalamazoo.
Do you think it was the size of a six-foot man? An average-sized woman? Or maybe a toddler? No matter what, that's one big heart!

In the event the reporter meant the find was the size of a human heart, though, it would have been better to recast this headline and lead something like this:
Possible human heart found at car wash (where is Paw Paw,

A heart found at a southwestern Michigan car wash has investigators wondering whether it came from a person or animal. (And yes, the passive voice is fine in this sentence because the heart is more important than the investigators.)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Irony: the Celebrity Edition

Lindsay Lohan caused titters when she signed a letter about the death of Robert Altman with this admonition: "BE ADEQUITE."

Now, she follows with a MySpace page note to her partner: "i'm so embaressing."

Indeed, Lindsay. Indeed.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Crime and Grammar

Everybody knows good grammar can help you get jobs and dates. How else can good grammar improve your life? We're so glad you asked!

It can also prevent you from falling prey to scams from people who have the skills to reproduce the IRS logo, but for whatever reason can't spell or punctuate their way to Easy Street.

We tried to ferret out the errors in the phishing scam, but the photo at the news site is too blurry for our old, tired eyes.

At any rate, here's the story. The moral, of course, is that you should pay attention in school if you want to be a really good criminal.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A new e-mail scam is posing as an IRS request.

The trick to keeping your computer and identity safe is to not respond and to not open the attachments, experts said.

KMBC's Jim Flink reported that the e-mail contains an IRS seal, but it also has numerous punctuation and spelling errors, which is one of the surest giveaways that it's a scam.

"What they're trying to do is find someone who is gullible enough to fill out these forms and fax it back to them," said Hank Palmer, KMBC's Information Technology manager.

In this case, the forms are asking for extensive personal information, including Social Security numbers, bank accounts and passport pictures. (Read more...)

UPDATE: Barry L. has better eyes than we do. Here's how he reads it:


Our records indicate that you are a non-resident alien. As a result, you are exempted from United States of America Tax reporting and withholdings, on interest paid you on your account and other financial dealing to protect your exemption from tax on your account and other financial benefit in rectifying your exemption status.

Therefore, you are to authenticate the following by completing form W410082, and return it to us as soon as possible through the fax number +1-606-***-****.

If you are a USA Citizen and resident, please complete form W410082 and fax it to us, please indicate "USA Citizen/Resident" on the form and return it to us.

When completing form W410082, please follow the steps below

1. We need you to provide your permanent address if different from the current mailing address on your form W410082 , you must indicate if a non-USA resident, your country of origin to support your non-resident status (if your bank account or other financial dealing has a USA address for mailing purpose).

2. If any joint account holder are now USA residents or Citizen, or in any way subject to USA tax reporting laws, Please check the box in this section.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Hey, a Nice Review!

We missed this in Salon when it first came out, but here's what their critic has to say about THINGS THAT MAKE US [SIC]:

"Things That Make Us (Sic)" by Martha Brockenbrough
I peruse style manuals the way some people pore over cookbooks: hungrily, looking to have my senses elevated. My favorite recent example was Bill Walsh's "The Elephants of Style," and to that esteemed company I can now add Martha Brockenbrough's witty and steely "Things That Make Us (Sic): The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar Takes on Madison Avenue, Hollywood, the White House, and the World." Brockenbrough is the founder of SPOGG, the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar, and in defense of syntax, she defers to no one. The book is filled with her outraged letters to the likes of Rick Moranis (for "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids"), the Founding Fathers (for overusing Latin) and the Toronto Maple Leafs ('nuff said). Personally, I think Brockenbrough could go a little easier on folk usages: She is less appalled by the rape in "Deliverance" than by the rapist's description of Ned Beatty's mouth as "real pretty." But, like the best grammarians, she favors clarity over purity, and in her final chapter, she incites open rebellion against "the rules that never were." So go ahead, my brothers and sisters, split those infinitives! End your sentences with prepositions! And if you're feeling really crazy, use "like" as a conjunction! Martha's got your back. -- Louis Bayard

For what it's worth, we were properly horrified by the rape in "Deliverance," but we thought it was funny to focus instead on the perpetrator's grammar instead. If we ever publish a "movie scenes that haunt our nightmares" story, we'll deal with the rape scene then.

We'd be thrilled if you bought the book for your favorite language lover's stocking. Ten percent of our royalties benefit The National Brain Tumor Society, so you're making a great contribution to an important cause.

Goodbye, Sweet Prince!

The guy who wanted his city's name to have an exclamation point has died! How sad!

Man who put '!' in Hamilton dies at 89
By Peggy McCracken

Staff Writer

Saturday, December 06, 2008

HAMILTON — The man behind the punctuation mark that brought international attention to Hamilton preferred to keep a low profile.

Stewart "Stew" Jones had the idea to promote Hamilton by adding an exclamation point to the city's name in the mid-1980s. While Jones' gimmick gave the city national and international attention, the same could not be said for Jones, who died Wednesday, Dec. 3, at The Fort Hamilton Hospital at age 89.

"He never took credit for things. It wasn't generally known until several years later," said Jim Blount, historian and former JournalNews editor.

Butler County Commissioner Gregory Jolivette said Jones' idea was inspired by "Oklahoma!," the musical. Jolivette, then-mayor of Hamilton, said people often mistakenly think the punctuation idea was his.

But Jones didn't go unnoticed by all: He was named among 50 "Amazing Americans" by Newsweek magazine, which stated: "Since Hamilton's founding in 1791, its illustrious daughters and sons have ranged from Fannie Hurst to Ray Combs. None has done more to gain his hometown celebrity than Stewart Jones."

Read on...

For the rest of the day, in honor of Mr. Jones, we shall call ourselves SPOGG!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Taco Did It

Our friend Peter sent this along:

Downtown Los Angeles

Sitting in the food court of the Grand Central Market in downtown L.A., Stan Enriquez, 59, and his friend, Dean Qualls, watched the Simpson sentencing while listening to KFI on a small transistor radio. [APPARENTLY TRANSISTOR RADIOS COME WITH PICTURES NOW. WE DID NOT KNOW THIS.]

“He deserved it,” said Enriquez, wiping his mouth after eating a taco just shortly was escorted by deputies out of the courtroom. “He committed the crime.” [THE TACO, MEANWHILE, MAINTAINED ITS INNOCENCE. "MR. CHIMICHANGA! HE'S YOUR MAN! THE ONLY THING I'M GUILTY OF IS BEING DELICIOUS!"]

Enriquez, a former telephone line installer, said he had installed Simpson’s telephone line at his Brentwood home a year before the murder of his wife and Ron Goldman.

“I feel bad about it,” Enriquez said. “Basically, they’re trying to recover stolen items from thieves and then you let the thieves prosecute you. It doesn’t make any sense.” Both men, from Santa Monica, said the judge was hard on Simpson.

"She was a hanging judge,” Qualls said.

Monday, December 01, 2008

More Facebook Funnies

Ordinarily, we are immune to the compare/contrast features of Facebook. We got sucked in this morning, though, and discovered a most enchanting spelling error, which is all the more funny because the person in question is an editor.

Do we think Molly would "robe" a bank? Why yes. Yes, we do--if only to keep the personal bits private. [Insert your own roll of quarters joke here, if you like.]

P.S. If you like children's literature, you'll love the Bowen-Press blog, which is mercifully free of all the tasteless jokes we've been making lately.

Insert Uranus Joke

MSNBC had three errors in a headline about tonight's lunacy:
Venus, Jupiter will 'shine' on Monday night
Slendor, crescent moon will illumninate two brightest planets

It's "slender," and they didn't need to separate slender and crescent with a comma because the two adjectives aren't interchangeable. In other words, you wouldn't say it's a crescent slender moon. You only need the comma if you have two equivalent adjectives (the lumpy, bumpy moon... the cold, distant object).

Also, illumninate? Sigh. It's illuminate. We've had days like that, though, so we're just going to offer the editor a hug.

That said, Slendor would make an excellent name for a man from a distant planet. Let's say Uranus. Really. Say it out loud. Yes, that gives us the giggles, every time.

SPOGG hereby apologizes for this post. We woke up at 4:30 and couldn't go back to sleep. Our natural state before the caffeine has set in is, as the professionals say, 12-year-old boy. Boobs! Ha ha ha ha ha ha!