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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Unpalatable Art Fare?

ITEM: Wall Street Journal, Friday, March 7 (or thereabouts). "What to wear to an art fair." (Really? People need instruction on this?) In  a sidebar to this urgent sartorial advice, a lady by the name of Christina Binkley suggested wearing a basic black backdrop (so to speak), against which one could use a broad palate. Twice. 

As you know, Livia is not one to judge, but--well, OK, she is one to judge. How did this woman earn the right to have her opinions published in a national and well-respected newspaper when she appears to be inviting people to march around art fairs with their mouths wide open? More to the point, why did the editors of the aforementioned journal not catch and correct this howler? Twice?

Livia despairs. People who write for publication owe it to the rest of us to apprehend that our language is filled with homophones. You in the back, there: stop snickering! Homophones are words that sound alike but are spelled differently and have different meanings, to wit: palate, palette, pallet. 
  • Palate = roof of the mouth; alt., discerning taste. 
  • Palette = color wheel.
  • Pallet = sleeping mat; alt., flat, wheeled tray for moving numerous or bulky items.
And editors owe it to writers to  protect them from looking foolish or moronic in print. Livia is envisioning a number of potential causes for Ms. Binkley's lapse: She may actually think that "palate" is the right word, in which case there is no hope for her. Or she might have intended to use "palette," but is a less-than-accomplished typist. As for the editor, Livia has some words that cannot be quoted in a family newspaper. It is the editor's job to know the difference, to read a writer's work carefully, and to correct mistakes. Shame on the one who left Ms. Binkley open to ridicule.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Amazing Is Not Amazing Anymore

The Harcourt Brace and World Standard College Dictionary:  Amaze: verb 1.  To overwhelm, as by wonder or surprise; astonish greatly. 2. Obs. To bewilder.  Amazing: Adjective.  Causing amazement; astonishing, wonderful.

Roget's II The New Thesaurus:
Amaze (verb): surprise.  Amazing (adjective): fabulous.

How is it that all of the creatives are like lemmings when it comes to this adjective?  Are they not artists?  Are they not really that creative after all?  What's so wrong with wonderful?  Isn't fabulous still fabulous?

The only justification for the overuse of amazing is if in fact everyone is incorrectly reading the facial expressions of those who may have overindulged in Botox.  Although this is probably a contributing factor, Cicero is not persuaded that this is the reason celebrities have such a short list of adjectives.

Economists like to "call the bottom" of an economic trend.  Cicero is calling the bottom of amazing (thank you, Academy Awards).

Monday, June 11, 2012

Messaging the Message

Merriam Webster defines message as: a communication in writing, in speech, or by signals. 2. : a messenger's mission. 3. : an underlying theme or idea.


David Asman writes in "Getting Republicans on Message" at Foxbusiness.com that Republicans "..can't get much traction.  We think its the message." Business leaders and politicians are concerned with remaining or staying "on message."  This usage seems to be a new way to express the importance of maintaining a theme throughout a lengthy or complex communication.

We have text messages, email messages, mixed media messages, and of course, the almost quaint voice message (although most people now refer to these as voice "mail" which is a contradiction in terms).


UPDATE: 6-11-2012:  Expect the messaging to continue in earnest during the Presidential election campaign.  Use of the term "message" in this way reminds Cicero of these words: theme, point, subject, focus, mission, and idea.  This usage also has the added attribute of leaving out the article "the," which Livia has addressed with aplomb.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sufficient Unto the Day

In re: today's Boston Globe, in an article on the reprehensible behavior of some members of the priesthood in Boston, wherein the Globe was congratulating itself on breaking the story "more than 10 years ago to the day." Now really. This silliness must stop at once. How obvious must Livia make her disapproval of such lazy writing (and lazier editing)? It is unthinkable that the editor, if not the reporter, does not know that the event occurred either exactly 10 years ago--to the day--or not. It can't be both.

And while we're on the subject, loveys, how many times must Livia tell you about "anniversary"? In that same article, we find "ten-year anniversary" more than once! Anniversary includes "year"! It's all-inclusive, like Club Med! No need to repeat "year"! Stop it!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Craftspeople Unite!

Hello, loveys! Livia has missed you indeed. Today, high on Benadryl, she is addressing the deeply annoying irruption of the word artisanal (quite often misspelled as "artisinal," which just goes to show you...). To her dismay, Livia has determined that artisanal is, in fact, a word and that, in most instances, it is being used correctly, if pompously.

But dear, dear! Must everything from artichokes to zucchini be artisanal? Can nothing be just ordinary any longer? Really. How fancy must a beer be, for the gods' sake? Artisanal cheese, artisanal bread, artisanal vodka, if you can stand it--where will it end? You don't hear the French touting their artisanal Bordeaux, do you? Livia believes this phenomenon to be an outgrowth of the "you are special" claptrap so prevalent when today's young (ish) adults--the artisanal offenders--were growing up. Unfortunately, if everyone is special, then no one is, and the same goes for beer and pretzels.

So knock it off, loveys. Livia has some nice artisanal wolf's bane for those who heed her not.

Friday, September 30, 2011

2011 Snotty Buzz on the Wall Street Journal

Insiders say that the storied newspaper is on the short list for Most Consistent Personification of Inanimate Objects and Subjects. A senior GrammarSnot source points up the WSJ regular application of the ubiquitous "needs to" applied on September 30, 2011 by Ben Casselman.  Mr Casselman wrote "Economists say the weekly reading needs to stay below 400,000 for the economy to grow."  Insofar as Mr. Casselman did not quote an economist, and he did not quote The Weekly Reading, this GrammarSnot reporter can only conclude that Mr. Casselman was writing in a way he believes to be descriptive.  GrammerSnot sought an independent quote from The Weekly Reading, but since we couldn't identify it, and because it is not, in fact, a person (capable of expressing needs), we were unable to confirm Mr. Casselman's account.