Tag Archives: Postal Service

Dear Users of Nouns, Pronouns and Verbs

Dear Users of Nouns, Pronouns and Verbs,

I would like to make the bold request that you be more precise when speaking/singing/writing.  Using ambiguous nouns and verbs makes it difficult for the reader to decipher what you intend to communicate.  Ambiguity can also result in entrapment or even death, as this letter will no doubt prove.

My first example is something that happened to me today.  I was exploring my school campus, looking for a place to read alone, when I found a really great balcony.  The door leading to the balcony had several signs on it, and I read each one.  Scrawled in some messy penmanship on one of the signs was the statement:

Door will lock after closing.

I thought about this for a moment.  Did the author intend to communicate that the door would lock after the building closed or after the door closed? I went with the former, assuming that, had the writer meant the latter, they would have written something like, “Door will lock when it closes,” or “This door locks from the outside,” or even “Prop the door open by any means if you don’t want to be stuck on a balcony for the rest of your life.”

I soon discovered my mistake and was forced to call a school admin to let me back in the building.  This incident could have been avoided if the wording on the sign had been more specific.

The next example is a very serious one indeed.  You may be familiar with the band The Postal Service.  The opening line of their song “Clark Gable” is:

I was waiting for a cross-town train in the London Underground
When it struck me

What struck you, Postal Service Lead Singer Guy? To what does this “it” refer? Because, to be honest, every time I hear this song, I imagine you standing on the rails, waiting and thinking deep thoughts.  And then I imagine an underground train rushing out of nowhere, hitting, and killing you. (As a side note, I do realize that that intention of the writer is clarified one line later.  However, as a result of the construction of the song, I still feel that the pronoun used here is ambiguous.)

These examples clearly illustrate just how important it is to use clear language.  If you don’t, you may end up in serious danger…or, at least, the subjects of whatever you’re writing, may end up in serious danger.  Either way, it’s something to pay close attention to.

I hope that this letter persuades you to be more careful and specific in your word usage.



Dear Adam Young

Dear Adam Young,

I first heard your song “Fireflies” afterhours at work while I was helping restock shelves. Upon first listen, I just assumed that this song was a new Postal Service song and moved on with my life. But, then, the song kept being played…over…and over…and over again. My interest piqued, I searched for the song on the internet and found out that it was actually written and played by none other than Owl City, the name you have plastered on your music project. I initially took a neutral stance on your songs. However, that changed very, very quickly.

My first indication that there was something amiss is a fact found in the very song, “Fireflies.”

I’d get a thousand hugs

From ten thousand lightning bugs

Now, bugs don’t seem to be picky creatures. Most of them live in the dirt. Some live in fecal matter. So, why do nine out of ten bugs reject you hugs? What could possibly be wrong with you?

I soon discovered that what was wrong with you was the way in which you write songs. Your lyrics make an over-reaching attempt to sound deep, but when pressed, they really make no sense. You tie your handlebars to the stars? Really? And, what are you trying to express by making the absurd statement that “every mushroom cloud has a silver lining”?

All things considered, I have come to the following conclusion: Either you are a genius who is so clever that he’s actually a parody of himself or you are just a very, very poor lyricist.  As much as my heart wishes it were the former, I’m inclined to believe that it is, in fact, the latter.

After all, wouldn’t the lightning bugs want to hug a genius?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on my conclusions.  Until then, please cease and desist writing songs of any sort.  Unless you really are just a parody of yourself.  In that case, carry on.



Dear Car CD Player

Dear Car CD Player,

You are old and currently located in a 1998 Plymouth Neon named Mayflower. I can understand why you would be cranky with your position in life. I also understand that, being old, you cannot read or play CD mixes that have been burned from a computer. You probably just have problems with newer technology, so I will cut you some slack on that topic.

What I don’t understand is why you are so picky about the original CDs you choose to play. Is the soundtrack from the motion picture Once just not good enough for you? Is there a reason you will play Bringing Down the Horse by the Wallflowers only when it’s warm outside? Why, oh why, will you play the soundtracks from both the musicals Cinderella and The Sound of Music, but you’ll only periodically allow The Village musical score to play?

I don’t understand your reasoning, Car CD Player. I wish you would at least be picky in a logical way. Perhaps you could reject all CDs with blue album covers or any music that contains a cow bell. Then I can at least buy CDs with confidence, knowing that you will play them. Right now, it’s just a giant game to which only you know the rules.

Please enlighten me to your reasoning for rejecting my music. I’m not offended that you hate it; I just want to know what you hate so I can make decisions in the future.