usingtherightwords

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An Unexpected Addition to the Museum of Failure Exhibition


This past weekend, I went to an exhibit at the A+D Museum in Los Angeles about failure, specifically about ideas, products and services that failed for one reason or another (it’s from the Museum of Failure in Helsingborg, Sweden).

The exhibit was simple: A product, idea or service, such as the Betamax, the Edsel, the Apple Newton, Blockbuster, New Coke, Bic for Her and the Skipper doll that grew breasts by moving her arm, was displayed along with some text.

Most of the time, the text was humorous, but I found one instance in which somebody made what they thought was a correction.

 

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When I saw this, I laughed (and had my wife snap a picture). Lay is the action word; lie refers to a state of reclining along a horizontal plane.

It’s tricky, and I can understand why many people might think lie would be correct because it’s understood that the writer is suggesting you go lie down on something, but in this case, lay is correct. Had the text read, You might want to lie down on a couch/bed/ground/horizontal plane, that would have been correct, too, but just writing lay down is like saying, “lay yourself down,” which is an action, which takes the action word lay.

That’s no lie. Remember this, and there will be no failure.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

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January 30, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Riddle I Can Appreciate


When I go to networking meetings, I expect to hear some kind of nonsense coming out of people’s mouths. But recently, one guy got up and offered a riddle: What is an eight-letter word in which you take away one letter, it leaves you with a different word, and then if you take away another letter, it leaves you with yet another word, and so on?

Actually, this guy usually offers riddles: “Who makes it has no need of it. Who buys it has no use for it. Who uses it can neither see nor feel it. What is it?” (A coffin)

Or “What is light as a feather but not even the strongest man in the world can hold it for more than a few minutes?” (Air)

But this one, really impressed me. The answer is starting.

Take away the second t, and you get staring;

Take away the a, and you get string;

Take away the r, and you get sting;

Take away the t, and you get sing;

Take away the g, and you get sin;

Take away the s, and you get in;

Take away the n, and you get I.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

January 25, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It Makes Sense Only in Context


It has been awhile since I’ve gone to a networking meeting, but last week, I returned. This time, I bring examples of words people said that made sense — if you were there.

I’m not in the closet because I’ve been in the business 50 years — Of course, plenty of people in the entertainment industry, including some who have been in the business 50 years are gay. Others are gay but don’t feel they can come out.

And then there is the person who said this: She really sells closets.

He helped defeat Prop 8 so we have gay marriage in California — This speaker told of a relative that was an outspoken opponent of Proposition 8, the 2008 initiative that banned any marriage in California that wasn’t between a man and woman. Unfortunately, the voters approved Prop 8; it wasn’t defeated.

Later, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled it unconstitutional because it violated the Equal Protection Clause (Fourteenth Amendment), so had the relative been an attorney who argued the case, the speaker would have been correct. But he wasn’t.

As we celebrate your nephew’s life and his passing — The networking group’s president expressed his sympathy for a member whose nephew died at a young age. But I don’t think anyone was celebrating his passing.

You want to live for free, you go to Oklahoma. That’s what Oklahoma’s for — Can you really live for free in Oklahoma? I doubt it. The speaker actually made a point that land in Oklahoma is far less expensive than in California.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

January 23, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Get the Line Right!


Being a wordsmith, a pet peeve of mine is when people incorrectly quote movie lines.  I recall spending many a summer day in the YMCA pool shouting my favorite lines from “Airplane!” with one special (at the time) girl. Over the years, I’ve heard “Animal House,” “Revenge of the Nerds,” “Gone With the Wind” and so many more ad nauseam.

So, for those who still don’t know, Darth Vader never says, “Luke, I am your father.” It’s “No, I am your father.” And Ilsa never says, “Play it again, Sam.” It’s “Play it Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By.’ ”

So, here are some others, courtesy of a video I saw online from whatculture.com:

Do you feel lucky, punk? — I have never actually seen “Dirty Harry,” but I know the quote is, “Well, do ya, punk?”

Whatculture actually quotes the entire speech: “I know what you’re thinking, did he fire six shots or only five? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I’ve kind of lost track myself. But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handful in the world and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?”

Hello, Clarice — Hannibal Lecter never says that. He says, “Good evening, Clarice.”

I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto — No, Dorothy, you’ve got a feeling you’re not in Kansas anymore. And the dog’s name comes first.

I want to drink/suck your blood — Ever since I was young, this was a line I understood to be from “Dracula.” Then I saw the Bela Lugosi version. It’s not there. I thought maybe it got cut. It didn’t. It was never there.

If you build it, they will come — That mysterious voice from “Field of Dreams” actually invites Kevin Costner’s character it build it so “he will come,” meaning the ghost of his father.

I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille — Actually, it’s “Alright, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.”

You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth! — Go back and rewatch “A Few Good Men” and you’ll see Col. Jessup ask, “You want answers?” Lt. Kaffee shout, “I want the truth!” and Jessup shouting back, “You can’t handle the truth!”

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

January 4, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Maybe Use Some of that Gas Tax to Correct Signage


On Nov. 1, a 12-cent gasoline tax went into effect, supposedly to fix roads and infrastructure. As there have been numerous such increases in the past, and the roads remain horrible, I am skeptical that this will work.

But I digress.

I recently drove up Balboa Boulevard and encountered the first big construction project since the tax went into effect (I don’t know whether this project was previously scheduled). Like many projects, the first indication is a large flashing sign that informs what roads will be closed and at what times.

This sign informed me that San Fernando Road would be closed between 7 a.m. and 5 a.m. Since it was about 4 p.m. when I saw this, I immediately started thinking about an alternate route. To my pleasant surprise, all lanes were open and there were no signs of traffic cones or construction machines.

I thought, “Strange that it’s only two hours the roads are open,” but I didn’t give it any more thought.

It wasn’t until the return trip did I realize something was amiss. As I drove down San Fernando, I came across traffic cones, road closures and big machines. It was about 8:15 p.m.

The closure was from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m.

I wondered if I had read the sign wrong. I checked. It flashed, “7AM to 5 AM.”

I plan to call Caltrans and tell them to fix the sign.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

January 2, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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