Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Limerick Lunacy

So, long story short, I was knee deep in the history and construction of limericks, and I conjured these silly things:

There once was a man from Peru,
Who wrote limericks up to line two.

Stupid, right? But I didn't stop there.

There once was a lass from "Paree"
Whose limericks went to line three.
They started off well.

And I had to finish:

A man you all know (Albert Gore)
Wrote limericks up to line four,
And then he'd hit Send
And the things would just end.
Limericks are fun and funny things, but messing with the form can be even funner.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

World Poetry Day 2017

A poem of the spring is what
   I've set my self to write —
Of gentle breezes, greening buds,
   And herons taking flight.
Happy spring, everybody!

But out my window, all I see
   Is cars and lots and rust,
And hear the wailing ambulance,
   And smell the drifting dust.

Writing poetry that's great
   Takes something I ain't got.
Sure, I've got the words, the rhymes,
   But inspiration? Not.

For this sad sot, his "poems" are
   Like home plumbing, I guess:
I can tinker with the pipes
   But I only make a mess.

So happy spring to those of you
   Whose minds are blue and clear,
And have a great World Poetry Day
   If I haven't ruined it here.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Fun with Page Numbers in Microsoft Word

Are you tired of boring old page numbers in your Word document's header or footer? Do you feel like your doctoral dissertation is missing that certain je ne sais quoi to make your advisors smile? Are you looking for a way to distract readers from the mediocre writing in the novel you've spent the last eight years writing?

I can help.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Health, Heart, Brexiting, and Begging the Question in a Post-Truth America

Business continues to translate into busy-ness (did I mention that I was promoted to managing editor at The Saturday Evening Post?), and, for better or worse, blogging here lands pretty low on my to-do list. But that doesn't mean I'm not writing! Here are some things for you to look at over at Copyediting.com:

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Happy Dictionary Day 2016!

Noah Webster, considered the Father of the American Dictionary, was born on October 16, 1758. That day is now marked as National Dictionary Day.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Oh the Horripilation!

Halloween 2010 - By Armando Salum, Veracruz.
Halloween 2010 by Armando Salum, Veracruz, via Wikipedia
As the scary clown population rises, Halloween nears, and the election gets creepier, journalists must surely be looking for some variety in how they describe the eeriness that seems to be pervading our daily lives.

I'm here to help — or rather, I was last week, when I published "Words to Make Your Hair Stand on End" at Copyediting.com. It's chock full of words you can use the next time you'd kill for a good synonym for goose bumps.

And I'm using kill metaphorically, of course. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

And Now, a Few Words from Our Presidential Candidates

Today at Copyediting.com, I wrote about four words used during Monday's presidential debate that sent people to Merriam-Webster's for clarification. But what really has the masses talking (by talking I mean tweeting, and by masses I mean four or five people) is one of the scariest images I've ever used in a post. Here it is:

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Roald Dahl and the OED

This week at Copyediting.com, I wrote about the recent update announcement from the Oxford English Dictionary and its honoring of Roald Dahl's linguistic legacy on his hundredth birthday.

The OED Honors Roald Dahl

Last week, the Oxford English Dictionary honored children's
author Roald Dahl in its quarterly update.
I'm rather excited to see scrumdiddlyumptious appear in a dictionary, though I assume it will be some time before Word's spell-checker will recognize it. Guess I'll have to add it myself, because I plan on using it often.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Guiltless Filler

I would feel guiltier about not posting here for almost three months if I hadn't been so busy with writing and editing projects that, you know, pay. Here, why don't you read some of them:

5 Pairs of Uncommon Confusable Words
The internet houses a plethora of “Commonly Confused Words” lists — Google returns 1.15 million hits for that phrase. Such common confusions are child’s play for experienced editors. No, we get tripped up by the less commonly used but easily confused words.

Neither and Nor, Together and Apart
Breaking up the correlative conjunction pair neither…nor is somehow a bit trickier than separating the parts of other correlative pairs. Using neither and nor without their correlative mates, though, can throw some people for a loop.

Sand, Sun, and Summertime Vocabulary
Ah, summertime: bright sun, warm beaches, cool surf, and daydreams of actually seeing any of these things while we huddle over our computers working our wordy craft.
To mark the start of this estival period and our dreams of sandy shores, here is a small collection of beach-related vocabulary.

But Can I Start a Book Review with "But"?
My review of the new book by the Chicago University Press editors, But Can I Start a Sentence with "But"?

The Funnest Column
Should you use more fun and most fun or funner and funnest? (Answer: Yes.)

The Ultimate E: One Final Letter Can Make All the Difference
Pairs of words that differ in spelling only by the presence or absence of a final letter e, but that single letter can make all the difference. Copy editors and proofreaders alike should take care around these words.

A Historic Column
Without a doubt, this year’s presidential election will be historic. It’ll also be historical, eventually. And that can’t be said about most things. Whether you’re writing about current politics or past outrages, understanding the difference between historic and historical can mean the  difference between “this happened” and “THIS HAPPENED!!!

A Plural Problem in the Animal World
Do you know the plural of octopus, platypus, and rhinoceros? Do you really?

I have some short fiction I've been saving up, too. I'll post some of that here, too. And hopefully it won't take me three more months.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Headline Shatters Expectations

I don't know about you, but when I hear the word shatter, I think of flying glass. I think of movie superheroes throwing nameless villains through plate glass windows, or white-hatted gunslingers throwing black-hatted bandits through . . . plate glass windows.

I don't know much about glass. Just that I enjoy watching costumed figures flying through it, causing it to shatter, hundreds of tiny glass stars flying through the air, drawing blood, and tinkling to the ground.

It was because my mind attaches this image to the word shatter that this headline from NewYork.com caught me by surprise.


If you haven't heard the news, Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical Hamilton was nominated for 16 Tony awards last week, a new record. The old record, held jointly by Billy Elliott and The Producers, was 15 nominations.

Hamilton beat the record by 1 nomination. Put another way, Hamilton broke the previous record by the smallest increment possible. Not exactly an explosive event, if you ask me. Not "shattering."

Imagine this word used in a headline about another discipline:

Danica Patrick Shatters Speed Record by .0001 Seconds


'Jaws' Chestnut Shatters Hot Dog Eating Record by Half a Weiner

Words mean things, even when used metaphorically.

A more accurate headline might have been "'Hamilton' One-Ups 'Billy Elliott' and 'The Producers.'" It'd be better SEO, too.