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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!


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

More Outdated Trivia (and Incorrect Words)

I loved getting “The Bathroom Trivia Book: Nuggets of Knowledge for America’s Favorite Reading Room” from 1986. I finished reading it cover to cover and have uncovered more examples of statements that might have been facts then but no longer are (and, as a result, are using the wrong words).

Again, I looked up various online sources, including state marriage laws, the NFL rule book and Google, to find what’s changed.

For example, in 1986, the top 10 surnames in the country were, in order: Smith, Johnson, Williams, Brown, Jones, Miller, Davis, Wilson, Anderson and Taylor. Today, Smith remains No. 1, but Jones is ahead of Brown, Davis is ahead of Miller, Moore is in the top 10, Taylor is ahead of Anderson, and Anderson is 11th.

Back, then girls as young as age 12 could get legally married in Kansas, Rhode Island and South Carolina. Now, it’s 15 in Kansas. In Rhode Island, brides under 16 need consent from Family Court; and in South Carolina, it’s 14, but you need notarized parental consent.

Here are five others. Again, the 1986 “fact” is presented first, followed by today.

  1. New Mexico is the only state with two official languages. Actually, Hawaii is the only one. New Mexico’s constitution does not state an official language.
  2. Home teams must provide an NFL referee with 24 game balls. Today, it’s 24 for indoor games and 36 for outdoor games.
  3. The world’s tallest building is the Sears Tower in Chicago. First, it’s now called the Willis Tower, and it’s the 16th tallest in the world. Second, it’s no longer the tallest in the Western Hemisphere. That honor goes to the new One World Trade Center in New York. Third, the tallest building is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
  4. Three thousand people get divorced each day. Now, it’s 3,200.
  5. There are no movie theaters in Saudi Arabia. Today, there is one, and it’s an IMAX theater in Khobar.

Until next time! Use the right words!

December 19, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Getting an Idea from “Criminal Minds”

As I’ve written before, I enjoy the CBS drama “Criminal Minds.” My wife says that she can watch numerous episodes of this disturbing show and go to sleep with no problem, but “The Walking Dead” gives her nightmares.

But I digress.

Lately, I’ve been watching episodes in which people are abducted. This made me wonder if there was a difference between abduction and kidnapping.

So, I looked up the words. Abduct means “to carry off (as a person) by force.” Abduction also means “the unlawful carrying away of a woman for marriage or intercourse,” which I find a bit antiquated and couldn’t easily find on online dictionaries. I’m not sure that definition still holds.

Kidnap, meanwhile, means “to seize and detain or carry away by unlawful force or fraud and often with a demand for ransom.”

Clearly, there is a difference. Abduct deals with the action of forcibly taking someone; kidnap deals with much more to include the holding of a person against his/her will.

Neither are nice, and I hope no one has to suffer through such horrible acts.

Until next time! Use the right words!

April 8, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

As Opposed to “Engaged to be Divorced?”

Last night at a networking meeting, someone stood up and proudly announced that his daughter was “engaged to be married.”

That got me thinking. Is that necessary? Is anyone ever “engaged to be divorced?”

My dictionary has six definitions for engaged. The second one: “pledged to be married.” So, what he really said was, “My daughter is pledged to be married to be married.” Redundant.

Other definitions include “involved in activity”  and “greatly interested,” so I suppose he could have said that his daughter was “engaged in planning a wedding,” but he didn’t — and no one would.

A person also could say that he or she is “engaged in finding a job,” “engaged in driving a car” or “engaged in watching TV.” While that would be correct, why use more words? “I’m job-hunting,” “I’m driving” and “I’m watching TV” suffices.

The same goes with “I’m engaged.” It’s understood that you’re talking about marriage.

Until next time! Use the right words!

April 10, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

For The Lexophiles Among Us

A lexophile is a lover of words, and if you search the word online, you’ll no doubt come across many of the following puns, jokes and plays-on-words that online people say lexophiles like:

When fish are in schools, they sometimes take debate.
A thief who stole a calendar got twelve months.
When the smog lifts in Los Angeles, UCLA.
The batteries were given out free of charge.
A dentist and a manicurist married. They fought tooth and nail.
A will is a dead giveaway.
With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress.
A boiled egg is hard to beat.
When you’ve seen one shopping center, you’ve seen a mall.
Police were called to a day care center where a 3-year-old was resisting a rest.
Did you hear about the fellow whose whole left side was cut off? He’s all right now.
A bicycle can’t stand alone; it is two tired.
When a clock is hungry, it goes back four seconds.
The guy who fell into an upholstery machine is now fully recovered.
He had a photographic memory which was never developed.
When she saw her first strands of grey hair she thought she’d dye.
Acupuncture is a jab well done. That’s the point of it.
Those who get too big for their pants will be exposed in the end.

Thanks to Jackie J. for the idea.

Until next time! Use the right words!

February 19, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Try To” Not Use “Try And” Too Much

Our language fascinates me in that there are little phrases that people say two different ways but mean the same thing. Latest case in point: try to  vs. try and.

I have always found try and rather incomplete: Try and  what? Try and jump? Try and fish? Try and try again? I’m not told.

With try to, I’ll soon know what it is someone is attempting. For me it’s domestic stuff such as try to do the laundry, clean the mirrors, etc. For the Beatles, it’s try to see it my way.

So I suggest avoiding try and unless you are using it as a cause and effect: try and see what happens.

Until next time! Use the right words!

August 27, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Too Late to Take Your “Honeymoon”

Maybe you know a married couple that, for whatever reason, didn’t take a trip immediately following the wedding. One year later, the couple finally got away and called the trip a honeymoon. Or maybe you have heard of a trip called “a second honeymoon.”

Regardless, neither of these is really a honeymoon. Each is just a trip or a vacation or a holiday.

Take a look at the applicable definitions of honeymoon:

  1. a vacation or trip taken by a newly married couple (italics added);
  2. the month or so following a marriage.

I don’t know about you, but a marriage of one year is not new, and I wouldn’t consider a year applying to the or so” part of the second definition. Also, by definition, you can’t have a “second honeymoon.”

So, if you want to take a honeymoon, better get on it right after you’re married.

Otherwise, you’ll be having a nice trip.

Until next time! Use the right words!


August 16, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I Can’t Be Related to Both of Them

My wife’s grandmother died on Friday one month shy of her 105th birthday. Like with any death, family comes into town for the funeral. This got me thinking about relationships.

My wife’s brother is in town. He is my brother-in-law. What about his wife? What is her relation to me?

Most people I ask would say that she is my sister-in-law. But she’s not. She’s my brother-in-law’s wife. She has no relationship to me.

Think about it. If she’s my sister-in-law, that would make her my brother-in-law’s sister. But they’re married people, and married people aren’t siblings, at least not normally.

Biologically speaking, if her genes and my genes were to mix, there wouldn’t be any incest-related defects. We’re separated far enough in the gene pool.

You simply can’t be related to both halves of a married couple in this example. In fact, I assert that you never can be related to both halves of a married couple.

In-law is defined as “a relationship by marriage.” But that’s too incomplete.

My wife is related to her brother, but his wife isn’t her sister-in-law. She’s her brother’s wife. Just like I said before, if they were sisters-in-law, that would make her brother and his wife siblings, and it isn’t true.

So, call your sibling’s spouse whatever you’d like. Just remember that they’re really not in-laws.

Until next time! Use the right words!

July 16, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Another Way “In-Laws” Bother You

When you pluralize a word that ends in a consonant, you usually add s and everything works out. Here’s a case when it doesn’t.

Take your spouse’s family (please!). They are your in-laws.

Many families have divorced parents who have remarried, so we have more in-laws. If your spouse has a father and a stepfather, you say you have two father-in-laws, right?

No. You have two fathers-in-law. And two mothers-in-law. And two brothers-in-law. Etc.

You pluralize the object you have two of: fathers.

It’s confusing, to be sure. You might say, “I am pluralizing what I have two of: father-in-laws.”

You’d be wrong, and I want you to be right, so check the dictionary.

Until next time! Use the right words!

January 13, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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