I’ve always been both fascinated and righteously indignant about grammatically incorrect advertising. I’m not a grammar fascist — frankly, my grammar’s just not good enough to qualify and I still have flashbacks to trying to learn how to diagram sentences in Mr. Grimes’ sixth grade English class at Gilman School in Baltimore. But overt linguistic fouls annoy me. Maybe it stems from having two English majors as parents who always insisted on speaking and writing correctly. It’s not like they slapped me with a ruler if I used “good” instead of “well,” but if I delved into the realm of lousy grammar at home I generally heard about it.
Now, I’m not as bad as my mother who would often call over a poor, unsuspecting waiter to complain about a typo or grammatical sin on the menu. It didn’t matter if it was a fancy French restaurant or a truck stop. This usually had to do with a missing or extraneous accent mark, though even I had to agree when “Chicken Franchise” showed up on a menu in the Poconos when what they meant was “Chicken Francaise.”
I also remember my dad talking about grammatically incorrect advertising slogans like the old cigarette tagline “Winstons taste good, like a cigarette should.” Of course it should have been “Winstons taste good, as a cigarette should.”
This got me thinking about current or recent advertising that plays fast and loose withe the rules of grammar. I’m sure you can think of others but here are a few along with how they should read.
Eggo Waffles: Leggo my Eggo — Let go of my Eggo
Milk: Got Milk? — Do you have milk?
Subway: Subway, eat fresh — Subway, eat freshly
Apple: Think Different — Think differently
McDonald’s: I’m lovin’ it — I am loving it
Staples: We got that. — We have that.
What others can you think of? (and yes, I just ended that sentence with a preposition).
Everyone’s been posting their Myers-Briggs “Stress Heads” on Facebook the last few days with comments like “Yup,” “Sums it up,” and “Nailed it.” As an INTJ I’m supposed to get stressed out by things like procrastination, indecision, and not having enough time to change plans. This is all true but there are other more specific things that that make me crazy and stress me out. Here are ten of them:
Dead iPhone battery
Watching the Orioles/Ravens lose
Middle School math
People who have no clue how to navigate a traffic rotary
Vestry meetings that go past 10:00 pm
Kids who are “starving” when bedtime is announced (you know who you are!)
People who never stop talking
So after keeping us in suspense for a few days, the royal baby has finally been named: George. Actually there were a few other names attached to this but I’ve forgotten them. Two or three middle names seems to be a monarchy thing. As you’ll see below, I’ve done some research on William and Kate’s influences in coming up with the name. Oh, and just for the record, Americans don’t deal kindly with English kings named George. Just sayin’.
People around here (Boston) are livid about Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s appearance as the cover boy on this month’s Rolling Stone magazine. He comes across looking like a teen heartthrob you’d see on the cover of Tiger Beat, complete with Armani shirt and rock star hair.
You can feel the anger and raw emotion emanating from Facebook, Twitter, and talk radio and Boston Mayor Tom Menino released an open letter to Rolling Stone. At best it’s a crass, clumsy attempt at PR — we’re all talking about it, after all, and when was the last time Rolling Stone was relevant? At worst it glorifies evil and retraumatizes the families and victim’s of the Boston Marathon bombings.
The reality is that this is nothing new. Evil has graced the cover of countless magazines over the years, including a previous issue of Rolling Stone. Our fascination with characters like the Unabomber and Charles Manson and the Boston Strangler drive this. Heck, in another era Judas might have been named Time’s Man of the Year.
None of which is to justify what Rolling Stone did — it’s not just the cover that irks people but the sympathetic portrayal of a terrorist. It’s simply to put all of this into context.
The large and ever-growing staff at Clergy Family Confidential ** decided it would be nice to mark Columbus Day in a positive manner. The explorer gets a bad rap these days for such minor trifles as spreading fatal diseases to native populations and taking credit for places long before “discovered.” So in the spirit of martyrs celebrated with their “companions” (see Perpetua, Constance, etc.) we thought we’d highlight Columbus and his Companions.
First, the man himself. What adventurer/visionary doesn’t spend hours as a child dreaming that one day a mid-sized city in Ohio will be named after him? Every child in America knows the year that Columbus sailed the ocean blue but only because he didn’t delay his trip until 1493.
St. Columba, one of the popular 6th century Celtic saints, also had a sea-faring adventure. In what may be the first reference to the Loch Ness Monster, it’s said that he once saved a swimmer from a monster in that body of water by making the sign of the cross.
Another one of Columbus’ companions might be the rumpled TV detective Columbo. By now you’ve seen that this post has nothing to do with anything but the similarity to Columbus’ name, the root “columb” meaning “take the day off and hold a parade.”
Columbia University may be in the internationally-reknowned Ivy League but it’s also made it into this post. Or at least the subway stop. If you miss New York, don’t worry — this is a scratch n’ sniff photo.
** By “large and ever-growing staff” I mean that I have rewarded myself with several new titles: along with writer I am now the executive producer of Clergy Family Confidential, director, key grip, stunt double, and best boy.
I hope you’re enjoying the day off (if you have a nice boss). I clearly need to get back to work first thing tomorrow.
One of the great mysteries of the world is the difference between sprinkles and jimmies. Okay, it’s not much of a mystery because there IS no difference. But why do some portions of the country refer to those small candy coated chocolates that accessorize ice cream and donuts sprinkles while others call them jimmies?
This was a major conundrum for my boys when we moved from New York to Massachusetts two and a half years ago. On moving day, we walked down to Nona’s, the homemade ice cream shop down the street. They ordered something chocolatey and then were faced with a dilemma posed by the teenager wearing a Red Sox cap behind the counter: “Do you want jimmies on that?” She may as well have asked the question in Swahili because they literally had no idea what she was talking about. Fortunately for them, mom and dad used to live in Massachusetts and thus we turned into on-the-spot translators.
Thinking about this recently, for some reason, I did some extensive research (thanks, Google) on the subject. It turns out that in the 1930s the Just Born candy company (the same folks that bring us Peeps) were cranking out boatloads of sprinkles. The guy who operated the sprinkle-making machine was named Jimmy. People started calling them “Jimmies” and the name stuck. I’m still not sure how it became a regional thing but whatever. It’s a good story.
Ben and Zack still refer to them as sprinkles — either old habits die hard or it’s their way of sticking it to the Massachusetts “man.” But ultimately they don’t care as long as they get them on their ice cream. And at least we didn’t move to the Midwest to get embroiled in the old soda versus pop debate.
I don’t often get political here and, well, I’m still not. But if the congressional “Super Committee” was a model for all things “Super,” the world as we know it would be flipped upside down. Here are some examples:
Superman would be reduced to a kryptonite-fearing, pathetic little man curled up in the fetal position on the floor of a phone booth.
Your Super Sized Coke at McDonald’s would come in a shot glass.
Super Tuesday would resemble the Iowa Straw Poll.
The Super 8 Motel would consist of a sleeping bag in a Wal-Mart parking lot.
The Super Dooper Looper roller coaster at Hershey Park would be synonymous with “tea cups.”
The graphics on Super Mario Brothers video games would be on a par with Pong.
The Super Bowl would be as compelling as the Tufts-Middlebury game and the commercials would all be tests of the emergency broadcast system.
The Super Dome in New Orleans would be renamed for former President Bush.
Rick James’ Super Freak would be as hip as your average accountant singing La Bamba at a karaoke bar.
The Super Soaker would be little more than one of those fake squirting flowers clowns wear on their lapels.
That’s all I got — I’m sure you can come up with others and, if so, please post them. Unfortunately this is what happens when I have a day off…