Odds and Ends: Jersey Shore Edition

I have recently returned from my annual family vacation to Ocean City, New Jersey, during which I consumed 39 consecutive cheese-based meals. (Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.) Here are some things:

Enxitr
I found this sign at Gillian’s Wonderland Pier (whose website is a wonderland of animated gifs) on the Ocean City boardwalk. I had just sent a handful of kids (not sure they were all with me—they start to look alike after a while) on their last ride of the day, and stopped dead in my tracks when I saw this. The Really Cool Teenager working the ride gave me a bizarre look when I crouched down to take the photo, but I was not to be deterred. I liked the sign so much I added it to the rotating images in the header of this website (there’s a one-in-eight chance it’s at the top of this page as you read right now).

This sort of thing is one of the many reasons I always have a camera with me. (Another reason: the off chance that I might end up sitting next to Natalie Portman on a roller coaster at the boardwalk.)

Philly Birds
I have been a lot less productive since my co-worker Carrie told me that there are three free versions of the Angry Birds app. Also, my family has descended into a Lord of the Flies-style chaos in which the person who possesses the iPad is ruler of the tribe and the only one allowed to speak.

This T-shirt (which I received as a birthday gift while at the shore) from Cheesesteak Tees plays off the Angry Birds aesthetic and references the Philadelphia Eagles football team through the use of green. (Also, many naturalists will tell you that eagles are a kind of bird, so it’s a clever connection.)

I’d love to see an interpretive site promote a program through a “Friendly Birds” or “Happy Birds” campaign. (Please share it with us if you do!)

Everyday Peeves
I won’t tell you the name of the place where I saw these signs because I don’t want an angry flash grammar mob to descend on my favorite ice cream shop. But I will say that the deliciousness of my hot fudge sundaes (cheese sauce on the side) was tempered by these gross violations of two grammar pet peeves: 1. The unnecessary use of quotation marks (which make you wonder if they’re being sarcastic about something), and 2. The use of “everyday” (common, average) when they meant “every day” (how often I eat ice cream when I’m on vacation).

By the way, I didn’t notice until I posted this image here that my sister was peering out at me from the other side of the glass door while I took this photo.

Scriptwurst Hi
Last year, when I went to the shore, it was swarming with people wearing T-shirts with the word “ill” extracted from the Phillies logo. (I wrote about it here.) The next new fad, I hope, is this very friendly “hi” T-shirt, also extracted from the Phillies logo, from a company called Zoo With Roy. (The company’s name is explained in its tagline: “I want to go to the zoo with Roy Halladay.” They do another great T-shirt that says, “Ask me about my pitching staff.”)

This T-shirt (another birthday gift) accentuates how round and cheery the Phillies typeface, Scriptwurst, is. (I wrote about that back in 2009 here.) I particularly like this design because the single, tiny word “hi” in such a friendly typeface is an unexpected contrast to the somewhat negative national perception of the Philadelphia sports fan. (Note: People who say or think bad things about Philadelphia sports fans are morons and jerks who should be punched in the face.)

Mystery Message
Finally, this T-shirt was another birthday gift. I’ve included it here because some people do not understand the shirt’s meaning—and some have trouble simply identifying the typographic characters that make up the message. I’m curious what the IBD Nerd Herd thinks of it.

Now that I’m back from vacation, I’m off to the Fort Collins Cheese Detox Center. If you’re in town, please stop by. I’ll be the guy in the T-shirt.

Paul’s Grammar Pet Peeves: Part 2 is Comprised of Five Points

The first installment of Paul’s Grammar Pet Peeves, “Part 1 of Literally Millions,” garnered literally fives of comments, some of them from people I didn’t even go to college with. So it’s clear to me that nothing excites you, the IBD reader, like reading about things that annoy me. With that, I give you five more pet peeves!

Comprised of/Composed of
The phrase comprise means to include or to be made up of. For instance, you could correctly say, “Shea Lewis’s wardrobe comprises many sweater vests.” The word compose means to make or form. So you could say, “Shea Lewis’s wardrobe is composed of many pastel shirts.”

shea-PaulSimonWhen you say this: “Shea Lewis’s wardrobe is comprised of stylish and contemporary clothing,” you are both factually and grammatically off the mark. Not only does Shea look like the late Illinois Senator Paul Simon when he goes out in public, but the phrase is comprised of is grammatically nonsensical. It translates from English to English as is included of or is made up of of. (Thanks to Nick Racine for pointing out that Paul Simon was a senator from Illinois, not Minnesota, as I originally posted. I must have been thinking of Al Franken, who is a senator from Minnesota and played Paul Simon on Saturday Night Live.)

Lie/Lay
I frequently hear people say that they are tired and need to lay down. This makes sense only if they are carrying a large, heavy box, which would explain why they are tired and what they intend to lay down. Usually, however, they are not carrying anything and what they mean to say is that they need to lie down. The act of laying (time to put on our mature faces, people) requires a direct object (stay with me, I see those smirks), as in, “I need to lay down this large, heavy box.” When you position yourself in the angle of repose, you are lying down.

What complicates this one is the past tense. The past tense of lay is laid; the past tense of lie is lay. Not to mention what happens when you’re talking about those Hawaiian flower necklaces: “I laid down those leis and then lay down.” (Note: Thanks to Sarena Gill for catching my misuse of “your” in the previous example. Sarena is no longer welcome here.)

Its/It’s
Okay, so this is one of those quirks that makes people learning English as a second language want to stab native English speakers in the neck with a fork. Adding an apostrophe-S to a word makes it possessive. Just adding an S makes it plural. So why, then, does adding apostrophe-S to “it” not make it possessive? And why is it that just adding an S to it does make it possessive? The simple answer is that “it’s” already serves as the conjunction “it is,” so to make it less confusing, we English speakers invented a new rule that applies only to this one tiny word, making “its” possessive, thereby confusing everybody. You’re welcome, speakers of other languages.

One technique to try is to replace all instances of “it’s” with “it is” or “it has” and see if it works. Then replace all instances of “its” with “his or her” and see if that works. If it does, then you’re good to go. If it doesn’t, you are ready for a career as a writer for The New York Post.

Everyday/Every Day
DaveMatthewsBandEverydayEveryday (one word) is most commonly an adjective, but it can also be a noun. It means commonplace or ordinary. Every day (two words) is an adjective followed by a noun. The phrase simply means daily. For example: “Every day, the everyday activities of my life make me want to stab myself in the neck with a fork.”

Here’s another sentence to consider: “Every day, I think that Dave Matthews should have had a grammarian look at his album cover before he named an entire album ‘Everyday,’ unless he actually meant to say that his music is average or ordinary.”

Presently/Currently
Presently means soon. Currently means now. If you say you’re on your way presently, it means you haven’t left yet. If you say you’re on your way currently, then you are actually en route.