Tag Archives: punctuation

Dear People in the Entertainment News Business

Dear People in the Entertainment News Business,

A few days ago, I switched the radio from its normal spot on NPR/public radio to some Top 40 station. I don’t really remember why.  I probably wanted to hear that new P!nk song (and I’m ashamed that I don’t feel more shame about loving that song).  Anyway, the whys and wherefors and whoseits don’t really matter.  What matters is that, upon turning to this station, I heard a DJ say roughly the following:

Female DJ: We have a debate going on this morning. I think Kim Kardashian’s maternity wear is getting better and better.  [Male DJ] doesn’t agree.  More on that in a few minutes.

Seriously?! This is a conversation you chose to have not just once off the air, but a second time on the air? I just…my brain..melted a little there.

Okay, I’ll stop writing about the banality of entertainment news or whatever.  I actually have a sincere question for those of you in this business:

How do you have opinions on these things?

I am a great purveyor opinions.  I’m fairly certain I have opinions on far more things than the average person.  I have expressed opinions on topics ranging from the pronounceability of the dollar sign in Ke$ha’s name to people’s choices to be buried with their earthly belongings to the incorrect punctuation on a sign for a certain hotel chain.  And that’s just on this blog.  Other opinions  that I have recently expressed to friends and family members range from the way in which people use Instagram to the existence of konapun videos to the names of companies which produce cloth diapers to whether caring about politics is really beneficial on an individual level.

I have opinions on many, many things.  But I still don’t understand how you can form opinions on whether or not a pregnant woman who is literally famous for either a sex tape, her father/step-father being famous or for simply being rich is buying more fashionable maternity clothing this month.  Is this really a thing to care about?

I realize this may come across as the pot calling the kettle black.  But, I really am curious about this.  Every time I listen to or watch any sort of entertainment news program I am hit with how absurdly obsessed with minutia everyone seems to be.  How do you have opinions on these things?  Is it drudgery having to act like you care about the state of a celebrity’s hair?  Or do you really find these topics interesting?

Please respond. Inquiring minds and all.



Dear Fellow Students

Dear Fellow Students,

I understand your confusion.  Truly, I do.  I, too, am also plagued by the misunderstandings that accompany the misuse or nonuse of hyphens.

As your apparent puzzlement indicates, you are well aware of the purpose of the hyphen.  You know that when two words which modify one another are used to modify a third word, the initial two words should be hyphenated.  For instance, let’s take the completely arbitrary words “Tobacco”, “Free” and “Campus” to make the phrase “Tobacco Free Campus”. Without a hyphen, this phrase is much like the Wonder Twins without their rings of power: kind of confusing, a little awkward, and possibly useless.  The phrase could be taken to mean that you are currently standing on a campus that is made entirely of tobacco and to which entrance is free of charge.  You could also interpret the phrase to mean that tobacco products are hurled at students on this campus with no expectation of compensation (albeit, that requires a slight stretch of the imagination).

However, insert the ring of power (the hyphen, in this case) into the equation, and, as surely as those Twins of Wonder will transform into a puddle of water and a walrus, the vague phrase is changed to one that makes perfect sense: a “Tobacco-Free Campus” is clearly a campus on which tobacco products are prohibited.

Now, the school which we attend does not appear to understand how confounding some phrases can be without hyphens.  They have placed signs throughout the buildings which could be interpreted in any of the ways listed above.  Yes, they should have had the signs checked by a copy editor.  Yes, you are evidently baffled by their meaning.  Never fear.  I am here to clear things up once and for all.

I feel confident in saying that, despite the lack of hyphens, the signs posted on every entrance and exit door on campus do have one correct interpretation, which is as follows:

Stop filling the balconies where I study with your disgusting cigarette smoke.

Glad I could help you out in your quest for truth.



Dear Americas Best Value Inn (sic)

Dear Americas Best Value Inn (sic),

When I first passed you on a local highway, I thought very little of you. I assumed you were a lowly, stand-alone motel whose owners may or may not have the best grasp on grammar and punctuation. However, since first seeing you, I have stumbled upon no less than four of your establishments in four different cities in the DFW Metroplex. My original assumption about you was wrong; you are, in fact, a motel chain. This means that you are a company that employs more people than just Ma, Pa and Junior. Some of those people probably speak the native language of the country placed in your company’s name (which, coincidentally is the country in which you operate and conduct business).

Considering all of the above, I have one simple question for you: Do you enjoy the murder and mutilation of the English language?

Your name is pretty simple: Americas Best Value Inn. These four words don’t leave a lot of room for grammatical error, but somehow you’ve managed to throw one in the mix that I cannot overlook.

The word “Americas” should contain an apostrophe. There, I wrote it. Under no perceivable circumstances should your title not have an apostrophe in it. If the value of this inn is, in fact, America’s best, then it should read “America’s Best Value Inn.”

I don’t understand how such a flagrant and insulting error was made. Did you save money by not including the apostrophe in order to pass the savings on to your customers? Are apostrophes the Coach purses of the punctuation world? How much do they cost, anyway?

If that’s not the case, then I assume this error is simply that: an error. If this is true, I’m embarrassed for you. Any chain that doesn’t employ one person who would have noticed this mistake and fixed it is not a chain I would want to associate with.

I hope to hear from you concerning this issue. I also hope that you fix the error soon. Really, either way, it’s just embarrassing.