Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Importance of Quote Marks

Read closely the second "A" in this Q and A regarding California's new driving-with-cellphone regulations and you'll find: Motorists 18 and over may use a "hands-free device."

Notice how "hands-free device" is in quotes. That means it's a joke! We're all off the hook! Of course we don't really have to use a hands-free device while talking and driving. The state is just having a josh with us. Good one, California!

Yeah, sure, I'll get right on that "hands-free device" ... [pause as the tension builds] ... HAHAHAHAHA! Ah, man, that was funny. "Hands-free device" -- yeah right!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Definition of the Day

diarrhea noun : an intestinal disorder characterized by abnormal frequency and fluidity of fecal evacuations. Also, diarrhoea.

I think this is my favorite definition in the dictionary because it's so goddamn gross.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


I've come to the realization that I've never used the word "peckish." What does it even mean, exactly? To me, it conjures images of baby chicks on a farm, but what sort of emotion is that supposed to represent?

So, off to the dictionary.

Turns out peckish means "somewhat hungry" or "rather irritable." At last! I have found the perfect word to describe my wife.

(She'd probably label me "puckish," after the slap.)

Friday, May 09, 2008


David H. asks:

When using quotes in a story, when do you use "she said" or "she asked." Also, what is the proper punctuation? Here are my examples. Is it:

"Where are you going?" she asked.

"Where are you going," she asked.

"Where are you going," she said.

"Where are you going?" she said.

A question mark is indicative of a question, obviously, and standard form is to follow a quotation with "asked." (Or "questioned" or "wondered" or any other suitable synonym.) Using a comma after a question is completely in error, although I do adore commas. And to end a sentence with "she said" when what she said was a question just makes my head hurt.

Thanks for the question.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Still Life With Geraldine

Gendy asks:

When you're talking about a painting, does still life refer to just paintings of fruit and vegetables and other non-animal things, or does it include people and animals? Also, is it still life or still-life?

Dear Gendy:

First off, thanks again for submitting a question that could be simply solved by consulting a dictionary. You make my job too easy.

Secondly, still life is never hyphenated unless it's used adjectivally. Yes, I said adjectivally.

To quote Webster's, a still life is "a representation chiefly of inanimate objects." I suppose the rub is the word chiefly, since I guess you could take a picture of your finger poking a bowl of fruit and call it a still life, but I wouldn't recommend it.

The final answer: anything that is photographed, painted, or otherwise documented that doesn't move of its own volition may be correctly termed a still life. Not including my penis. (Why did I say that?)

Thursday, February 28, 2008


A font better than Helvetica? Discuss.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Beating a Dead Horse

What's up with the phrase "beating a dead horse"? Why would anyone beat a dead horse? For that matter, why would anyone beat a live horse? And what's up with eating the hair of the dog that bit you? Who would even think to do that? And why are there so many ways to skin a cat? I have no idea what those ways are, but apparently there's more than one.