Friday, June 22, 2007

Headline Puns: The Naked Truth

the onion

Friday, June 15, 2007


You'll see this sort of thing a lot:
Several Hollywood stars are supporting Sen. Barack Obama's, D-Ill., campaign.
Well, no. Sen. Barack Obama is an Illinois Democrat. Sen. Barack Obama's is a possessive. Recast, please.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Flagrant Foul

Does everything have to be branded and logoed? The NBA's championship series is the NBA championship series. Or the title series. Or the championship. But, because everything has to be branded and logoed, we have The Finals. Don't fall for it. Call it the finals if you must, but it's not The Finals, and it's certainly not The Finals (believe me, they'd force the font on you if they could).

Basketball has always had it in for me. I've written about my annoyance at the linguistic rituals surrounding the NCAA tournament (at least the pros save their excitement for the top two teams instead of making the semifinals the holy grail). Maybe I'd understand all this if I were taller.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


"Bring your favorite bottle of wine, and on Wednesdays there's no corkage fee!" "A bar where you can enjoy your favorite cocktail!" "Take advantage of our 'accent wall' plan and get one wall of your apartment painted your favorite color!"

OK now. My favorite bottle of wine may not go with the cuisine offered by a no-corkage-Wednesdays place that advertises on the radio. Hell, my favorite bottle of wine is probably one I can't afford. My favorite cocktail? I dunno, maybe the Cable Car, a variation on the sidecar offered at select Las Vegas Strip establishments? It's not offered at the bar I'm inventing for the sake of argument here, so I guess I'm not welcome. And my favorite color is a hunter or emerald green of some sort, but that's not necessarily the color I'd paint my "accent wall" if I rented a place at the complex I'm inventing for the sake of argument here, so I guess I'm not allowed to opt for my second- or third-favorite color.

Yes, my point is that "favorite" is an ad-speak cliche best avoided in actual writing. What, you think I'm being overly literal? Well, bite me.

But don't actually bite me.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Get Real With Garner

The Usage Tip of the Day that Bryan Garner just sent out is so good I have to share it:
"Get" is good English. Yet many writers want to avoid it because they consider it too informal; they prefer "obtain" or "procure." The same tendency is at work here that leads some writers to shun "before" in favor of "prior to," "later" in favor of "subsequent to," and the like. But confident, relaxed writers use the word "get" quite naturally -- e.g.: "Duke was obviously referring to some of the conference championship teams or playoff winners that either got lucky or hot during the playoffs or played an unimpressive schedule to win a conference title and gain an automatic berth." Gordon S. White Jr., "NCAA Tourney Snubs Syracuse," N.Y. Times, 9 Mar. 1981, at Cl.

Although some pedants have contended that "get" must always mean "to obtain," any good dictionary will confirm that it has more than a dozen meanings, including "to become." So the second and third bulleted examples above are quite proper. And it's entirely acceptable to use such phrases as "get sick" and "get rich."