Tag Archives: grammar

Dear Googlers 5: Other Letters to Other People I’ve Never Met (Probably)

29 Mar

Dear Googlers Who Found My Blog Using the Search Terms “a poem for a drunken jerk” and “forgotten fake poet”:

Welcome!  I am an unknown fake poet, so if I’m remembered at all, I will be soon forgotten.  Also, I am often a jerk and sometimes a drunk, so many of my poems–which you can find here–might appeal to your drunken, jerky proclivities.



Dear Googlers Who Found My Blog Using the Search Terms “janeway flirts with seven”:

True.  But to her credit, Janeway flirts with everyone.

You better have something bigger in your torpedo tubes,

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Regular Poem: Tap vs. Ballet

27 Jul

Writing styles are like
dancing styles.

I’m a tap girl:
I like quick, energetic writing,
full of active voice,
lightly peppered with punchy
colloquialisms but
formal in form,
joyful in tone.
You don’t tap to
mournful cello solos or Celine Dion ballads.
You can tap to rap,
but who would want to?
No, tap is anachronistic,
synchronized, syncopated,
highly punctuated with shuffle steps and semi-colons and dashes and butterflies,
and just
slightly pedantic:
Tap insists upon apostrophes before gerunds and whoms and a big smile.
But tap will allow a well-placed ain’t and a little pop-and-lock influence.

Of course,
some prefer ballet
with its endless pirouettes and henceforths,
its high, elegant kicks, and high, elegant diction.
You see it and feel it more than hear it.
And if it’s done poorly, it seems even sloppier than most other kinds
because its perfection is difficult to achieve
but easy–especially in the absence thereof–to notice.
Lithe sinews leaping together
must leap perfectly together,
and all those five-dollar words
are nonsense if not perfectly executed.
Ballet can be languid or vigorous, but each
is beautiful and hard (though seemingly soft),
and if you chasse on the wrong beat, place that comma somewhere
even slightly stupid,
you may gain your audience’s sympathy
rather than admiration–if
your audience is being generous.

Regular Poem: The Oxford Comma Did Not Actually Go to Oxford

17 Apr

Disclaimer:  This poem does not reflect my actual feelings toward the Oxford comma.

The Oxford comma did not actually go to Oxford.
(I’ve been doing some checking.)

Oh yes, he’s
a beautiful specimen.
He’s tall, handsome and always looks so
But he’s pretty common, you know.

Oh sure, he’s
always throwing lavish parties,
hosting big shebangs and
giving fantastic galas.
But if the party’s too big, a semicolon
(a semicolon for heaven’s sake!)
has to
take over his duties.

And another thing!
He’s a bootlegger, you know.
Don’t get too caught up in the logistics.
I just know he makes, sells and distributes
illegal substances of some kind
(perhaps whos that should be whoms is his vile specialty).

he did not go to Oxford, he is a bootlegger and I have no idea
why he insists on calling everyone Old Chap.

Regular Poem: My idiolect yet

9 Apr

Day 9: Just under the wire!

My idiolect yet
contains, retains, maintains
pieces of you,
phrases exchanged in mutual talking,
picked up and hoarded
in corners of my brain, stored
up in closets and caskets.

I find it aggravating
when I mean to just say
and you come out of my mouth.

Many pieces of you that linger
along the ragged, barely tamed frontiers of my life
are easy.
They take no time
no effort
no emotion
to explain into a comfortable oblivion,
to obfuscate into a benign separation,

is hard.

Apostrophes and Plurals: Once in a Great While

27 Jan

I almost always agree with Michelle grammatically; we took the same Professional Editing course, after all, and she was witness to an embarrassing incident in which my *white trash roots shone through my carefully cultivated English-nerd façade.  She recently posted about plurals and apostrophes, and while I most certainly agree with her, I must talk about the exception to the **rule:

Three Ts of Stewardship

Here–on this PowerPoint slide announcing my pastor’s sermon this morning, which was a very good sermon that included a testimony from the best organ player ever who also happens to wear awesome, gigantic brooches every Sunday–we have an acceptable way to use an apostrophe to form a plural.  Because everything is capitalized, we need some way to distinguish the T from the plural-making S or else the end product looks like TS, which doesn’t make a lot of sense.

The only problem is this:  Why does everything need to be capitalized?  It doesn’t.  Hardly ever does everything need to be capitalized.  Unless you’re yelling at someone on the internet.

*In Professional Editing each spring, the class produces a magazine about the English department.  One of the features we were going to do was about professors and their pets.  We were discussing other features, and I suddenly remembered about this pet thing and got worried we wouldn’t have enough room, so I–naturally–said, “What about them dogs?”  There was silence then and laughter to follow.

**The takeaway here is clarity.  If everything is not capitalized, we can also use an apostrophe, such as when we’re talking about more than one letter x (x’s).

With a Rebel Yell, I Cried, “More Punctuation, Please!”

19 Jan

I haven’t done any sentence diagramming for a while, so I figured I’d take a page out of the Michelle Webb playbook and discuss some bad grammar I saw recently:

Let me direct your attention to the punctuation void, “Original Time Honored Recipe.”

To see the problem, let’s look at the line right above that deems this “Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.”  What kind of whiskey is this?  (Besides my favorite?)  It is not just Kentucky whiskey, nor is it simply straight whiskey, nor is it merely bourbon whiskey.  It is, cumulatively, Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey.  All of those words imply some shade of meaning that all work together to jointly modify whiskey and tell us exactly what kind of whiskey it is; they have little meaning separately, and they cannot be separated with commas or ands or anything because they all work together.

The words in the next line, however, do not all work together to modify recipe.  It’s not as though there are a bunch of time-honored recipes lying around, and we have to tell you this is the original time-honored recipe as opposed to the sixteenth time-honored recipe.  So, the first problem is that–because the recipe is both original AND time honored–we need a comma after original to show that these adjectives coordinate instead of accumulate.

The next problem is that time and honored ARE working together to modify recipe.  It’s not a time recipe, nor is it an honored recipe; it’s a time-honored recipe.  So we gotta have a hyphen for that compound-adjective action.

In the whiskey world of my dreams, the bottle should now read:

Original, Time-Honored Recipe

In conclusion, I guess I shoulda stuck with Jim Beam.

It’s A (Different) Major Award!

27 Dec

Blog of the Year Award 1 star jpeg

Wow!  So here’s another award, I guess.  It’s not quite as chain-letter-feeling as the last one, and I am blushing shyly about it.

For those who are unaware, Ruth at Silver Screenings runs a fabulous old movie blog, and she is also my blog BFF.  She likes to comment on stuff and tell me I’m awesome, which I probably don’t reciprocate quite enough.  So thank you so much, Blog Friend!  I appreciate all your encouragement!  And I think your writing is polished and fun!

The ‘rules’ for this award are simple:

  1. Select the blog(s) you think deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award
  2. Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen – there’s no minimum or maximum number of blogs required – and ‘present’ them with their award.
  3. Please include a link back to this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award – http://thethoughtpalette.co.uk/our-awards/blog-of-the-year-2012-award/   and include these ‘rules’ in your post (please don’t alter the rules or the badges!)
  4. Let the blog(s) you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the ‘rules’ with them
  5. You can now also join our Facebook group – click ‘like’ on this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award Facebook group and then you can share your blog with an even wider audience
  6. As a winner of the award – please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award – and then proudly display the award on your blog and sidebar … and start collecting stars…

My nominees are as follows:

Chocolate Is a Verb:  The place to go for actually good found poetry (instead of silly spambot found poetry, which is my specialty).

linguischtick:  The place to go for grammar and language when you don’t feel like sorting through my penmanship and colloquialisms and amateurishness.  This person has much better credentials than I have and is very witty.


Monday Night Special #13: Delving in With Diagrams (to Merry Christmas, Darling)

17 Dec

The Christmas radio station in Wichita starts playing holiday music in mid-November, so I’ve been pretty inundated for over a month.  It’s time to let that seep through in the Monday Night Special.

Arbitrarily Picked Work of Fiction:

Merry Christmas, Darling” by The Carpenters

Quick Synopsis:

A gal looks around at her decked-out-for-Christmas house, and, while she finds it acceptable, she wishes she were with her love.

Important Quotation:

Holidays are joyful;
There’s always something new,
But every day’s a holiday
When I’m near to you.

Continue reading

Monday Night Special #12: Delving in with Diagrams (to El Paso)

10 Dec

And we’re back from our November hiatus.  Put on your white sport coat (pink carnation optional), strap a big iron to your hip, and drag along Maybellene and your woman, your woman, your wife if you feel like it.  And hopefully the following will not leave you singin’ the blues.

Arbitrarily Picked Work of Fiction:

El Paso” by Marty Robbins
This feature is kind of turning into “Al Talks about Classic Country Songs.”  No regrets.

Quick Synopsis:

Out in the West Texas town of El Paso, our narrator falls in love with a Mexican girl named Felina, who is implied to be either loose or a straight up hooker.  A handsome stranger come in to Rose’s Cantina, where Felina dances, and the narrator suspects this dude will capture Felina’s love.  So, naturally, our narrator challenges the dude to a duel and kills him.

Our narrator, fearing he will be killed for his “foul evil deed,” retreats to the bad lands of New Mexico to hide out, but he loves Felina too much to stay away.  So he goes back to El Paso, where the law/a vigilante posse catches up with him and shoots him.  He dies in Felina’s arms.

Important Quotation:

My love is stronger than my fear of death.

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Monday Night Special #11: Delving in with Diagrams (to Coca Cola Cowboy)

30 Oct

Send me down to Tuscon, and I’ll get the diagramming job done.  However, don’t ask me who Julie is because there ain’t no California, and it’s lying time again anyway.

Arbitrarily Picked Work of Fiction:

Coca Cola Cowboy” by Mel Tillis
This week’s DPChallenge is about subjunctive mood, so I chose this song, whose subjunctive mood is not only constructed improperly but also linked improperly to its condition clause with a preposition instead of a subordinating conjunction.  This will count as our bonus grammar because I’m not going to talk about either in my analysis, but I would just like to say that when I sing this song in the shower, I always correct both of those and make the narrator gender neutral.  Therefore, the chorus then goes, “You’re just a Coca Cola cowpoke . . . But you walked across my heart as if it were Texas.”  I may or may not also sing it in the style of Julie Andrews.  Take all of that for what you will.

Quick Synopsis:

Our narrator calls his erstwhile lady collect on the phone, and she claims to be alone, which we learn is false in the second verse when she admits she doesn’t want her current companion to hear her cry and consequently think she still loves the narrator.  She dismisses our narrator, calling him a Coca Cola Cowboy and communicates in no uncertain terms that they are never, ever, ever getting back together.

Important Quotation:

And she said, “You’re just a Coca Cola cowboy;
You got an Eastwood smile and Robert Redford hair,
But you walked across my heart like it was Texas,
And you taught me how to say, ‘I just don’t care.'”

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