RA’s Diary Entry: Comma faults

[Same disclaimer as before. ETA: for the real explanation, you’ll need to see the comments.]

Between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, 2010

Dear Diary,

What a great Christmas! Let’s see. Plenty of wassail. Check! Got fed. Check! Spoiled the parents. Check! Did some other stuff I’m not recording for posterity in case anyone ever gets their hands on this. Check! I was even able to help out my favorite charities. Really chuffed about that.

And at the very last second, I spread some good cheer to the Army, too. They seem to have been quite excited, according to the initial poll sample produced by the skeleton crew at my agent’s office. Whew! Some of them were actually rather worried that I wasn’t going to come across, so they were doubly happy. I wrote something so convoluted this time that they’ll be able to natter on for weeks over what I could have meant. Probably some of them are rereading their annotated editions of “Critic as Artist” and getting ready to have a moderated reread. It’s lovely to be able to make them so happy with so little effort, and now they’ll be able to spend weeks thinking about Wilde instead of about me. Hopefully it will make it up to them for all the aggro over the way the Spooks 9 script ended. Hated to disappoint them, but a bloke can only play a certain number of roles at one time.

Once again, however, the publicist reports that that crazy woman, you know the one I mean — the one who thinks that if you can say it in five words, it’s probably worth saying in five thousand — has some stupid complaint. I admit, I’ve got used to her going on and she seems mostly harmless. Honestly, I thought that the message was so confusing that it would give her hours of pleasure to think about it. You’d think she’d be excited about getting to dust off her postgrad notes on Oscar Wilde, or write some obscure rubbish about my decision to quote Gilbert and not Ernest, or put together a daft egghead analysis of the possible uses of the double negative in the Indo-European languages. Instead, now she’s all in a dither about my punctuation and whether it makes me less attractive to her, and she actually got involved in a conversation about whether I punctuated the text incorrectly on purpose, and what that says about my sense of irony.

Wouldn’t she laugh if she knew what really happened with the apostrophes? Fortunately, I wrote that message in such a way that she will never, ever figure it out.

Nighty-night and Happy New Year in advance!

RA

p.s. Thanks for being so tolerant about me practicing my American here. Got to keep in shape on that. Not that it’ll be all that much use in New Zealand.

p.p.s. I think I’m getting better and better at making self-deprecating references to The Hobbit in my tag-lines. I wish I could make myself be immodest enough to say how thrilled I am about getting this role, even if I have to spend months slogging around in the muck with thirteen other smelly blokes. No, instead I have to worry about it, in public. Probably that’ll be the next post from that woman — how my statements about challenges and mountains to climb relate to pastoral language used to describe the mountain ranges of New Zealand in Dada-influenced poetry. Snore!

~ by Servetus on December 30, 2010.

116 Responses to “RA’s Diary Entry: Comma faults”

  1. Now we’re gettin’ somewhere. LOL!

    Post coming up, but remind me to tell you something later. 😀

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  2. omw here I am sleepy enough I would have sworn this was a Frenz post!! LOL except her comment made me check the header! NB. I had just clicked through from the email!! Wauw! Doing some real channeling! Don’t tell me … He called!!

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    • I wish 🙂

      Yeah, actually he called to explain it all to me. But I’ll never tell 🙂

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      • You are mean!

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        • [Mean comment I made in a moment of thoughtlessness deleted.]

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        • OK, the real reason: the message was designed to call attention to the very real problem at Christmastime of homeless punctuation. Next week he will be launching a campaign for every Armitage fan to take in a displaced apostrophe and help it find its way home.

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          • The problem will be particularly acute in the next few days, as all over the world English speakers confront the conundrum of whether it’s “Happy New Year’s Day” or “Happy New Years’ Day” or even “Happy New Years Day.” Literally billions of apostrophes will suddenly experience dizziness, disorientation, and feelings of rejection.

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            • [sorry, one more, and then I’m done] The real risk is that English speakers who are overwhelmed by the magnitude of this problem will simply wish each other “Happy New Year,” a decision that may ease their consciences but will gradually lead to the extinction of the apostrophe!

              Mr. Armitage hopes that his decision to call attention to this grave moment of potential punctuative dislocation will prove a helpful intervention in the impending crisis.

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            • Oh, the humanity!!

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          • Me! Me! I’ll take two!

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            • Homeless apostrophes are right up there with orphaned kittens for me. *sob*

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              • Not least because when apostrophes are not correctly placed, like orphaned kittens who become cats, they have a tendency toward unrestrained reproduction! The homing of apostrophes has the equivalent for punctuation mavens of the “have your pet spayed or neutered” campaigns of the SPCA.

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                • Have I mentioned I am a staunch member of the county’s Humane Society chapter? We’ve been trapping feral cats for spaying/neutering and release. Why not feral apostrophes??

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                  • Good idea. Perhaps you can add it to the tasks of the Humane Society. Feral apostrophes can be really dangerous as they confuse people about property relationships.

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                  • @angie and servetus, I think I’ve seen the feral apostrophes’ ( 🙂 )

                    under the bed with our feral dust bunnies…

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                    • I wonder if there’s any cross species mating going on there.

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                    • If my feral dust bunnies are mating with the feral apostrophes well, there we have the next Andrew Lincoln horror vehicle. oops, did I write that out loud?

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                    • Now, I have to say I like Andrew Lincoln’s horror vehicle. He plays such a niz sutthun boy . . . whuppin’ up on those nasty ol’ unday-ud walkas . . . oops, sorry, slippin’ back into my moonlight and magnolias mode, darlin’.

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                    • The whole thing looks ridiculous to me but it’s very popular here. Even so, I’m glad that Mr. Armitage is not appearing in it. I get flattered when Anne Rice says she wants him to play Lestat, but I’d really rather he not play a vampire.

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            • You’ll have to be careful to keep the cats away from them. Apostrophes are sensitive, shy things and easily traumatized. That’s part of why Mr. Armitage has such sympathy for their plight.

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              • They haven’t met the three-legged tuxedo cat with the Hitler mustache yet. She’s a bit of a basket case, so they should get along like peas in a pod.

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            • @angie, Better check with “the boys” to see if they have room for the odd apostrophe. My understanding is that Sir Guy has no intentions of sharing his Cheez-its with one more entity.

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              • One nice thing about apostrophes is that they are very light eaters on the whole. Every now and then you get a bold apostrophe that’s a bit greedy, but by and large they are very dainty.

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                • Perhaps Guy will see the poor little apostrophes do not have a hollow leg (unlike my fav hot henchman) and won’t be so bleedin’ stroppy about the whole thing.

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              • Oops, good point, Ann Marie. I thought the darling boy was a bit barmy over Pringles, but he’s really become obsessive over the Cheez-Its. Especially now they have duos with Cheddar AND Monterey Jack in the same box. I keep trying to reinforce the idea it really is nice to share.
                Well, at least his sword is no hazard to any stray apostrophes that show up at the house. I knew that was a wise decision . . .

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                • @angie, I can’t say anything about his sword because servetus will lose her coffee again 😉

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                  • Indeed. 🙂

                    Hard to see how a sword could kill an apostrophe. As they always say, “the pen is mightier than the sword!”

                    Yuk Yuk Yuk — and thanks for the great setup, Ann Marie!

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                  • Well, I started to say something along the lines of “good thing I rendered his weapon ineffective around my house,” because I just KNEW you woman would make something filthy out of it. *rolls eyes*

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                    • you “women,” I should have said. Naughty, cheeky monkeys!!

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                    • yes, dear angie, indeed we would have…and loved every single minute of it! 🙂

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                    • @Ann Marie,

                      Guy, of course, adores every minute of your rampant naughtiness. You should see the silly, smug smirk crossing his face right now as he folds his arms and raises a dark brow. “Oh, REALLY?”

                      All this attention is going to go to his handsome dark head, I just know it.

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                    • @angie..if our dark knight is up for some wenching, send him my way….I’ll wager he’ll raise more than a dark brow.. 😉

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                    • @Ann Marie,

                      He washed his lustrous locks earlier, so give him half a mo to run some of my Big Sexy Curl creme through it and touch up his lapis eyeliner, and he’ll be over. Listen for the jangle of his spurs . . . I think he said something about strawberries and squirty cream? He’s always starving . . .

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  3. LOL

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  4. Oh, Richard, I love you. But if you were writing for my paper, I’d be all over you like white on rice. And I don’t mean that in a sexually harassing way, either. I’m paid to notice all those mistakes and correct them, honeybuns (oops! Was that harassment? Because you do have the cutest . . . well, never mind).

    However, this isn’t a newspaper or magazine article and I’m not your colleague or copy editor, it’s your charming, funny, slightly cryptic message to fans, of which I am one, and I am ever so glad you shared your Yuletide greetings with us once again. You’re a sweetie!

    I don’t edit my friends’ and family members’ messages, and I won’t do it to yours, either.

    But if you do ever decide to write your memoirs and need some help, I’ll be happy to ghost for you. We’ll keep the cheekiness and sly humour, just tidy it all up a bit, yeah?

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    • Angie dearest (Servetus channeling RA): didn’t you notice that this message is perfectly punctuated according to the Chicago Manual of Style? Maybe I’ll be correcting *your* prose next. RA

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      • RA, sweetie,

        Why don’t you bring those sinuous hips of yours right over here and give me some hands-on coaching in the Chicago Manual of Style and I’ll show you how the Associated Press does it, darlin’. I don’t think the boys have drunk all the wassail yet, and I was preparin’ to slip into something more comfortable, too . . . (why is my voice becomin’ moah and moah sutthun as I write this??)
        Your ahhh-dent admirah,

        Angie

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  5. I was teasing! Promise! 😀

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  6. News flash: for a brief period, in order to highlight the plight of the apostrophe, Mr. Armitage will be spelling his name the way he pronounces it: A’mitage.

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    • Why, whut a plesha’ it is to meet yew, Mr. A’mitage . . . I think ya’ puhfomances are jus’ divine! *overwhelming need to flutter eyelashes at this point and twirl a (non-existent) parasol as I sip a mint julep*

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  7. LOL! You guys are killing me! I will definitely take in some of those homeless thingys. I alwasys have to stop and think about whether to put in the apostrophe or not in the word “its”. It just seems wrong without one. The possessive is without one (how very unpossessive of it?) I would like to campaign for an apostrophe for the possessive form of its! It’s a good idea, don’t you think?
    Here is a little poem I found: Apostrophe to the Apostrophe:
    http://www.poetryfoundation.org/archive/poem.html?id=30429
    Angie — love that southern accent!!

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    • Fantastic ending line: “you are the urge to possess everything / And the sure sign that something’s missing.” Thanks for this.

      As far as its goes, the rule is that no possessive pronoun in English takes the apostrophe. So we’d have to add it to the others: my’, your’, his’s, her’s, it’s, our’, your’, their’ — it would be even more confusing, you see. However, it would definitely lead to the rescue of even more apostrophes from homelessness.

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    • Why, thank yew verra much (now channeling inner Elvis).

      Phylly3, I should confirm that while I have a southern accent, I do not actually SOUND like that. Except when ahm bein’ facetious . . .

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    • ROTFLOL, phylly3!! I so have the perfect person to send this to! She will love it. Thanks for the link!

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  8. And I see I just added an extra “s” to always. Just to prove that we all make mistakes… 🙂

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    • I have a vague memory about some artist always putting errors in his work, or maybe it was an architect, for this very reason.

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  9. Well, all this is rather nice to wake up to 🙂
    I’m not sure I should take some apostrophes, since I tend to lose them myself 🙂 They really are confusing, so I’ll stick to the ”Happy new Year”…

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    • Yes, if you volunteer to house a homeless apostrophe, you must be very careful. Mr. Armitage will be visiting all the apostrophes personally to make sure that no one is abusing them 🙂

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  10. Thanks, guys! (Milly channeling her American here). This was the funniest start to a Thursday I could have wished for! Servetus, your channelling RA was spot on and spiffing, old girl! (channelling my Noel Coaward!)

    May I point out, Servetus, that your post is misleading as you called it “comma faults” and it’s all about stray, feral, soon-to-be-neutered apostrophes. I am friends with the apostrophe, but have sadly become a distant acquintance to the Comma. Sadly I, no longer, seem, to know, where, to place, them which is why, a tutorial on the subject would have, been, most, welcome!

    Emoticoms have become my friends in cyberspace! 😉 🙂

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    • @Millyme- your post was hysterical, 🙂

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    • Agree with Ann Marie.

      Also have to apologize for “comma faults” as title — couldn’t think of anything good for apostrophes at the time. He does make some comma errors, too, so it’s something you can share with him. There’s a German term for it: apostrophitis.

      While I was trying to write that i was thinking of you and Angie — I know some British terms and I can insert them into my prose, and I can Britishize the spelling, but as for making it sound really British? No clue. I tried to hear Mr. Armitage talking in my head, but it was hard. I can imagine you are really doing Angie a favor.

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      • She is, Servetus. Even though my knowledge of Britspeak was pretty good before my British friend arrived via cyberspace to assist me (some people have assumed I lived in England for some length of time, when in fact it was — a week!)it’s definitely improved since Milly started providing her input. I do have to watch myself when writing articles, though–wanting to add that extra “u” to certain words, that sort of thing. *wink*

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    • That was hilarious, MillyMe! Unfortunately, I, too, have the same problem! Same goes with the semicolon, especially when Word tries to screw with me and insists I replace a comma with a semicolon!

      A German acquaintance of mine thought that all the ‘s’ in the English spelling should be replaced with ‘z’ to make it American English, which what they use in Germany. So, imagine my surprise when he typed, ’Isn’t Gordan Ramzay that British Chef?’.

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  11. Love your humour, Servetus!

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  12. @servetus, as I read this I was sure I had been spookd. It usually takes a few 20 hr days in a row before I can get to this level of brilliant humour (adding the “U” just for the Brits). Seriously. Laughing still.

    Can’t adopt one more homeless apostrophe or anything else according to the hubs however I will be coordinating a shelter for all that need it.

    Word on the street is that RA will be headlining a fundraiser. Tickets to go on sale shortly.

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    • I think Mr. Armitage would be just as happy with a donation or a fundraise or volunteer hours. After all, he won’t be able to take any in himself as he’ll be traveling to NZ soon himself and all those extra apostrophes would definitely create a need for excess baggage.

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      • And the airlines charge a fortune for extra baggage–monies I am sure Mr. A would prefer to use to assist those poor homeless creatures. ‘Cause he’s such a nice guy.

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  13. Happy New Year!

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  14. @servetus

    Once again you are ahead of the curve! Check the first comment on this link (LesleyJ):
    http://austenprose.com/2010/12/30/the-sense-and-sensibility-bicentenary-challenge-2011/

    🙂

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  15. OMG Servetus you are hillarious! Loved the first p.s.

    OML 🙂

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  16. This was fun. It is nice to see you let your hair down and have fun. Keep it up. Let yourself go. 🙂

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    • Thanks. It was slightly unfortunate that the real inspiration only hit once I was commenting, but that rewards persistent readers, I guess. This was a real departure for me — a place I only go when I get the feeling that tensions are strained on a particular question.

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      • Well, I just think y’all have all fallen into the wassail bowl and can’t get up! Thanks for the laughs!!! (Don’t have a clue how to get the emoticon thingys but I am smiling a humongous smile!)

        Now y’all try to sober up….

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        • I swear I haven’t had anything stronger than a French vanilla coffee from the filling station today, NB. Wuhd of honah, darlin.’

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        • I think there’s a special alarm now that you can buy from QVC for $19.99. “I’ve fallen into the wassail bowl and can’t get up!”

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      • This has been fabulous fun, Servetus. I am so glad you wrote it and allowed us the opportunity for lots of silliness.

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  17. […] the RA universe. Hope the erudite among you will forgive me the mixing of those metaphors. With the recent hand wringing over RA’s grammatical homicide of the apostrophe (I won’t even go into his faux pas with double negatives), I feel compelled to ask for that […]

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  18. I haven’t posted a comment here before although I always look for your latest “feuilleton”!! This one had me crying with laughter and is a lovely way to end 2010! I had noticed the apostrophe problem when reading his message but being Canadian felt it too impolite to comment! Thankfully no-one here has any inhibitions in that regard and I’m so glad. I would have missed all this fun!! Keep it up!!

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    • Thanks, Teuchter, and welcome. I think up till now no Canadians were involved in the discussion of this post, so your reputation is safe. Glad you enjoy the blog.

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      • Pardon me! I am about as Canadian as can be and am presently hosting some homeless apostrophes!

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        • Oops! See, Canadians are so self-effacing that sometimes we even forget they are Canadian … 🙂

          Oh, Canada!

          Mr. Armitage thanks you for your devotion to the homeless apostrophes. Servetus hopes they are not driving you crazy.

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          • Actually my “Canadian” comment was a little tongue-in-cheek and I have to come clean and admit I am originally from the UK – Scottish to be exact!! I was doing my *protective* thing and didn’t want to say anything negative about something he says or does. I am having so much fun reading all the above. Thank you so much and I wish you all a very Happy New Year. As they say in Scotland “Lang may your lum reek”!!

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            • I had to look up the correct response, but it seems that it should be:

              Wi’ ither folks coal!

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              • Spot on!!!! You are good!! Lots of folk would be saying “Huh”?? I hereby dub you an honorary Scot!! Or should that be Canadian?
                (There again, lots of Canadians wouldn’t actually know what it meant!) In any case you are probably very content with your own nationality so please forgive me!?

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                • I’m a good googler, but I’d be happy to be an honorary Scot of any stripe — the accent is so intriguing. Zero probability of changing my nationality at this point, anyway, so I’ll live with it. I’m neither a huge patriot nor a self-hater … 🙂

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  19. Wow. You Americans are unbelievable.

    I’ve only found this entry today and the similar one on me+richardarmitage.

    Now, I’m going in guns blazing.

    Anyone can make a mistake but……

    the American habit of saying “on/at New Years” is oh so wrong – you must know that, in this case, “New Years” (however you care to puntuate it) is used as an adjective, ie. a discribing word. Therefore you need a noun after it! You can’t just say “New Years” but you can say “on New Year’s Eve”, “on New Year’s Day”, at a New Year’s Eve party”.

    “Compared to” is grammatically incorrect, too. It should be “compared with”.

    etc., etc.

    As an Australian, I write English the way the English do but I forgive Americans for the fact that they spell incorrectly (favorite” in lieu of “favourite”, etc.) and can’t seem to get English slng/curse words right (eg. “pissed off” is really angry or upset. “Pissed” means “drunk”!!!! If you’re going to borrow from the English, do so “word for word”).

    OK… isn’t it silly to “pick on” other people if they use our common language in a different way FROM us ….not “different THAN” as most Americans say!!!!!??????

    Please, please quite taking yourselves so seriously.

    I don’t claim to be perfect and I’m sure that Richard doesn’t either.

    So how about we “live and let live”?

    If you feel inclined to get back at me, just post it on Facebook – I’m a big girl, I can take it.

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    • kathryngaul, I think you missed the point of this post and the one that led to it. The first post was to query why this was an issue for me — not to criticize Mr. Armitage, but to ask (a) why I care about punctuation and (b) why we’re so protective of Mr. Armitage. And the point of this post was to poke fun at ourselves — all of us — for our miniscule attention to these things. It looks like from your posts below that you eventually saw what was happening, for which I am grateful.

      As for “getting back” at anyone on facebook — who has the time?

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  20. Sorry, my other diatribe was posted on RAFrenzy

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  21. I apologize profusely for my typing mistakes etc.

    ROFLOL

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  22. This is what I just posted on RAFrenzy:

    I am sooo sorry. I wrote that in a hurry because I was angry and, like a fool, I hit “post” before I re-read any of my stupid words.

    I regreted my haste, of course, and I did try to delete it but it was too late

    Thank you for replying so nicely. I certainly didn’t deserve it.

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  23. No, thank you. I was an idiot and now the whole world knows and I deserve that! You’d think that someone who’s reached my advanced age would learn not to strike out the way I did before she read all the comments, wouldn’t you.

    Once again, I’m sorry.

    I just wrote back to RAFrenzy and told her how much I love your blog and hers, too.

    I’m so glad neither of you has banned me from commenting!

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    • I can’t speak for her, but I have only banned two people in the whole time I’ve been blogging, and it was because they made ad hominem attacks on me. I’m happy to have my opinions criticized (when, of course, they are opinions I actually hold) or held up to scrutiny. Just don’t call me names 🙂

      I’m glad you enjoy the blog and hope you will continue reading.

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    • Kathryn, as I said in my email, I welcome all sorts of opinions, and would never ban anyone for remarks like yours. No worries.

      I have not banned anyone to date, but I would do it for the same reasons Servetus did it, and in fact I almost did it for someone choosing to attack her personally on my blog.

      Net: we can disagree. It’s when someone goes after someone personally that I draw the line, and yes, I’m saying that even in light of my diary entries where I made it plain I became a little disigusted with RA. Obviously I came around, and that’s what the diary is about — among other things. LOL!

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  24. […] correctly placed, signals the complete success of his covert Christmas campaign of last year, ‘Apostrophes for Armitage Admirers’. All of the feral apostrophes have found homes with fans, and there just weren’t any leftover […]

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  25. […] battles for myself. A possible struggle with punctuation — and the jokes I made about it right afterwards and a year later). Or smoking (though it means something different to me than it means to most […]

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