Thursday, October 31, 2013

When Misspelling Becomes the Norm

I saw this display at a local grocery store a few weeks ago:


Right off the bat, you're probably thinking (as I was), "Way to misspell 'ghoulish,' guys!"

Here's the scary part. I did a quick Google search and the results indicate there's a lot of people who think this is an acceptable spelling! I'm not saying they're right, because "goolish" doesn't appear in any dictionary I consulted. But hey - we're living in an era where people are encouraged to "do your own thing," so feel free to go forth and misspell at will. (Yes, Sheldon, that was sarcasm.)

Turns out that the grape supplier and grocery chain have teamed up to run this particular holiday promotion - goolish and all - for several years, tying it to a catchphrase about the grapes being "scary sweet."

Catchy and memorable. But it's ghoulish (with an 'h' and a 'u'), not goolish.

And people wonder why kids can't spell.

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

King Arthur Lived When?

I hate pop-up ads, but every now and then I see one that just begs to be included on this blog. Case in point: This ad that appeared on my Facebook page.


Now, most people don't know that I have been enchanted with the King Arthur stories for many years. This is a lesson to writers: Know who your potential audience is before releasing your work out into the world.

For those who are not familiar with Arthurian legend, here are some points to help you understand why this ad caught my attention.
  • If King Arthur really existed (and most historians are convinced that the Arthur of contemporary fiction is a myth), he would have lived around the 400s (although even that time frame is questionable depending on the source).
  • Traditionally, Arthur and his knights lived in England, not Spain.
  • Contemporary Arthurian stories typically place Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table in medieval times (roughly 1200 - 1600 A.D.), and outfitted with clothing and armor from the medieval era.
  • This shot of Clive Owen as the legendary king comes from the movie King Arthur, which is set in Britain at the time of the Roman occupation. The Romans occupied Britain circa 43 B.C. to 410 A.D. It may seem odd to set Arthur's story in the Roman period, but some historians do believe that the Arthur of myth may have been, or may have been based on, a Roman general by the name of Artorious.
Granted, this movie may well be Spain's "#1 Medieval Drama" - I know it's certainly one of my favorites. And I realize that ad copy, especially in today's fast-paced world, doesn't rank high on the research priority list. But the person(s) who wrote the rest of that copy could still use a history class or six.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Announcing a New Blog for Writers


If you read my blog with any regularity (according to my stats, that would be about four of you), you know that I specialize in typos from stories about fire and firefighting. After fifteen years in the blaze battling business, it’s hard not to notice those kinds of mistakes.

A few years back, while at a writing conference, I happened to attend a session in which authors read aloud the first few lines of their work for critique by an agent or editor. One story was about some sort of tragedy at a home that required an emergency medical response. The agent or editor (I don’t recall who it was) gave polite feedback about the writing.

I sat in the audience mentally gnashing my teeth (it would have been impolite to actually do it out loud) because the writer got so many details in that scene flat-out wrong. Even allowing for variances in emergency protocols around the country, from response to arrival to removal of a dead body, it was wrong, wrong, wrong. I wondered if the word “research” even crossed that person’s mind.

I voiced those frustrations to a fellow writer during a break. He just looked at me and said, without irony, “Why don’t you write a book about firefighting? You know, educate instead of be infuriated.”

So I did. Or rather, I’ve been working on it in between college classes, daily life, and major disasters in my home county. It has a ways to go, but in the meantime I’m launching a new blog in support of the project. Advance the Line will absorb the bulk of fire-related posts that currently populate this blog.

The World Needs a Proofreader still has plenty of fodder, so it’s not going away any time soon. But I do promise to make a serious attempt to post regularly in both places.

Thanks for following me!  

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Does Anyone Study Geography Anymore?


Not to be outdone by CNN in the News Network Geography Bowl, FoxNews aired this AP story on its website:


Title says the crash happened in "Va." - as in Virginia.

Story says - twice! - that it occurred in West Virginia.

Not to make light of a bad situation, but contrary to (sometimes) popular belief, West Virginia and Virginia (or their abbreviations) are not interchangeable. They are distinctly separate states. You might be surprised to discover how many seemingly well-educated people don’t know this.

History buffs should know that these two states started out as one, but West Virginia became its own state after seceding from Virginia in 1863. (I can tell you from personal experience that these kinds of rifts can make genealogy research quite interesting at times. But that's another story altogether.)

And one more thing. It’s Randolph County, not Randlph County.

Go Mountaineers!


Friday, October 11, 2013

Get Your Geography On!


Okay, folks. I realize that geography isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But when working for a major cable news network, covering international events day in and day out, don’t you think the people who create the broadcast would at least put a country the size of China in the correct hemisphere on the map? And use the correct country's name? Or are we just expecting too much?