Missing: Adjective

The word spicy is way too indistinct. Something can be loaded with marjoram, a spice, and we don’t say it’s spicy. Same with cinnamon, cloves, dill, and many others. When we say spicy, what we mean is hot, in terms of Scoville units. And that’s a poor substitute, because hot is for heat, and we all know you can grab a room temperature habanero and still suffer immensely. Read more “Missing: Adjective”

Plan B

Every once in a while I like to press my spectacles up the bridge of my nose, point my index finger to the ceiling, and pontificate on matters grammatical. I don’t think of it as grammar Nazism. I prefer calling myself a snoot, a term from David Foster Wallace’s essay “Authority and American Usage,” from Consider the Lobster. The snoot is a more playful breed, a beagle to the Grammar Nazi’s German shepherd. Read more “Plan B”

Alternative Punctuation

I’ve had this idea a while that it would be fun to invent some new punctuation marks. This, I’m sure, would be about as welcome as a traffic cop dabbling in interpretive dance on the job, or a semaphorist busting out some renegade signals towards a landing F-16. Recently, though, while sitting on the tarmac at JFK, my frustrated state had me pursuing this flight of whimsy, and I started in on a preface to a work that, I imagined, boldly launches a revolutionary, expanded typographical lexicon. Read more “Alternative Punctuation”

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