Thursday, December 1, 2011

Grammar Rules to Live By

Being a writer means a certain adherence to grammar rules. Every once in a while, we get to shatter these rules to great effect. Case in point, these wonderful rules of grammar from Gary James, an award-winning copywriter and marketing consultant from Asheville, North Carolina.

Hilarious, irreverent, and just the right amount of snark. Enjoy!

Never Break the Following Grammar Rules... Or Do, It's Whatever

Here's an a copy and pastable version, for those that want it...

Grammar Rules to Keep in Mind

Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction.
It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
Avoid clichés like the plague. (They’re old hat)
Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.
Be more or less specific.
Remarks in brackets (however relevant) are (usually) (but not always) unnecessary.
Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
No sentence fragments.
Contractions aren’t necessary and shouldn’t be used.
Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
Do not be redundant; do not use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous.
One should NEVER generalize.
Comparisons are as bad as clichés.
Don’t use no double negatives.
Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
One-word sentences? Eliminate.
Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
The passive voice is to be ignored.
Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary. Parenthetical words however should be enclosed in commas.
Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.
Kill all exclamation points!!!
Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forth earth shaking ideas.
Use the apostrophe in it’s proper place and omit it when its not needed.
Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”
If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: Resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use it correctly.
Puns are for children, not groan readers.
Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
Who needs rhetorical questions?
Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Zuckerberg's Pretension Explained

I've never met Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. I have seen The Social Network so I feel comfortable making overarching judgements about his character. You know those people who seem ready to answer your question before you even ask? I think that sums up the billionaire quite nicely. But I recently decided to give Zuckerberg the benefit of the doubt and look for a reason... I think I've got it. 

Here's the source of all Mark Zuckerberg's preconceived pretension:

On the right is famed mascot of The New Yorker, Eustace Tilley. A fictional dandy created by Rea Irvin, Tilley graced the cover of the first New Yorker in 1925. The resemblance is a little freaky...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Brand Names That Have Become Everyday Words

Some products are so common they enter the common vernacular as nouns. The proper term is “genericized trademark” and corporations spend fortunes to prevent this from happening to valuable brands. Certain examples are well known, such as Kleenex. (A friend of mine is actively trying to get people to refer to all MP3 players as iPods. He has his own reasoning…)

The entries are list were selected because I find them to be surprising and worthy of attention. For example…

Seeing Eye Dogs

This one shocked the hell out of me and inspired this article. Official “Seeing Eye” dogs are only trained at ONE school, located in New Jersey. The wait for one of these highly specialized guide dogs can last as long as four months. The non-profit organization is called The Seeing Eye and houses handlers during their training with dogs.

These dogs have more training than the average American worker.
Established in 1929, The Seeing Eye pioneered the use of guide dogs in the United States and their work continues today. Golden retrievers, German shepherds and Labrador retrievers are the breeds mostly commonly used as “Seeing Eye” dogs.


An array of continuous fasteners have been patented since 1851 but the actual name “zipper” comes from the B.F. Goodrich Company. In the 1930s, the company was looking for ways to market a previously patented fastener design that was being used on rubber boots.

Zippers were never intended to withstand substantial pressure.
Around the office, workers referred to the fastener as the “zipper” because it could be closed with one hand. The name simply stuck and use continues to this day. Fun Fact: Roughly 90 percent of the world’s zippers are made in Japan and most of those are made by the YKK Group.

The Jacuzzi

Originally intended as medical equipment, the Jacuzzi has become a staple among wealthy executives and swingers. The Jacuzzi family were machinists that emigrated from Italy at the beginning of the 20th century. After one of the members was diagnosed with Rheumatoid arthritis, the Jacuzzis began developing a hydrology treatment based on their water pump designs. The original Jacuzzi was released in 1955 as a simple pump that people used in their tubs at home. In 1968, the company began marketing a full bath we now know as the Jacuzzi.

Pictured: American ingenuity.
Jacuzzi exploded in popularity during the 1970s amid the spa craze and was sold in 2006 for nearly $1 billion. The company’s technology was so reliable that the US Navy relied on Jacuzzi water pumps to power patrol boats during the Vietnam War. These water pumps allowed the patrol boats to operate without propellers, giving them greater maneuverability.


A million companies produce adhesive bandages but there’s only one Band-Aid. Created in the early 1920s by a long time employee of the Johnson & Johnson Company, Band-Aids have become synonymous with childhood injuries and do-it-yourself projects gone awry.

This is how corporations make their products racially sensitive.
In 1951, the company debuted specialty designs containing popular characters, like Superman and Mickey Mouse. The Johnson & Johnson Company owns the trademark on Band-Aid meaning that similar products can only be referred to as adhesive bandages. Fun Fact: The stupidly catchy Band-Aid jingle, “I’m Stuck on a Band-Aid”, was written by Barry Manilow.


This small amount would probably sell for $5K nowadays.
One of the world’s addictive and dangerous narcotics, heroin had been independently synthesized a few times before a German pharmaceutical company (today known as Bayer) began marketing the drug in 1898. Heroin was originally intended as an over-the-counter cough suppressant but was quickly regulated by lawmakers. Along with Aspirin, Bayer lost the right to claim trademarks on heroin as a result of provisions in the Treaty of Versailles

Monday, January 24, 2011

The 5 Greatest Musicals Ever on Television Shows

The Internetz is definitely the place for uber-specific “best of” lists and pointless discussions. When talking about great television musicals, I’m not talking about television musical shows, like Glee. I’m not even talking about random musical episodes of otherwise non-musical shows. (I seem to remember The Drew Carey Show being guilty of this pretty frequently… also every other episode of Family Guy in recent years.)

This discussion is limited to the best musicals that are A PART of the shows in which they appear. Or more simply, they’re part of the plot and not necessarily gimmicky. The usage of these great TV musicals is limited to comedic effect and genuine plot/character development. There are countless examples of this concept on television; one example not on this list would be the “Once more, with feeling” episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

While it might seem weird (or stupid), to get this specific about television musicals (or musicals appearing on television shows), I was looking for efforts that rose above the level of gimmick or were written by people with little knowledge of what they were doing. To me, at least, the entries on this list seem like organic parts of the shows that spawned them. Hopefully, this kind of filter leads others to notice the suspiciously high quality of these unexpected gems.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Hilarious Piece from Dave Barry

Columnist, novelist, journalist. Dave Barry is a Pulitzer-prize winning writer. Barry's accolades largely derive from his notorious wit, which has been keeping me sane lately. As a brief, and lazy, tribute I offer, "Dave Barry's Electricity".

Today's scientific question is: What in the world is electricity and where does it go after it leaves the toaster?

Here is a simple experiment that will teach you an important electrical lesson: On a cool dry day, scuff your feet along a carpet, then reach your hand into a friend's mouth and touch one of his dental fillings. Did you notice how your friend twitched violently and cried out in pain? This teaches one that electricity can be a very powerful force, but we must never use it to hurt others unless we need to learn an important lesson about electricity. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Robot Knock Knock Joke

This meme is going around now... I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon.

Hope you enjoyed!