Bloody Well Write

December 16, 2009

Bloody Well Write has a new home

Filed under: Uncategorized — bloodywellwrite @ 12:43 pm
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And my, I think it’s a lovely one.

Please check it out here and, if you’d like, bookmark the new URL ( All the same info from this WordPress address is already at the new site, and new entries will be posted there.

Happy holidays to one and all!

Happy trails,


November 12, 2009

Died vs. was killed

Filed under: grammar — bloodywellwrite @ 10:11 am
Tags: , , ,

OK, so this isn’t the most fun entry to write; it still needs to be addressed, so here goes.

Everyone alive is going to die. That’s just how it is. Not fun, but accurate. However, not everyone alive is going to be killed.

That’s very good news.

The bad news is that those who are killed are the very unfortunate ones who die violently and at the hand of at least one very uncool person. And that is, indubitably, putting it mildly.

Let’s take a look at Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff.” The storyteller says that he shot the sheriff — but it was self-defense. Self-defense or no, if the sheriff dies due to complications from being shot, that would be considered dying a violent death, in which case anyone writing about it could write, “The sheriff was killed.”

So what about the deputy? Did he (assuming that the deputy’s a male) also die? Did he see the sheriff go down and freaked out so much that he went into cardiac arrest right then and there? If so, he died; he wasn’t killed.

Or is there more to the story? Did he get shot, as well? Did the storyteller shoot the deputy but is now lying about it? Or was there a second shooter? Did anyone check the bullet’s exit wound? Where’s the grassy knoll? If this scenario is valid, then he died, but he was also killed.

As the worst of two evils, killed trumps died.

Here’s another example. Let’s say that John Doe has an incurable disease and passes away from complications of that disease. This means that John has died.

Now let’s say that John has an incurable disease and is walking down the sidewalk to his umpteenth visit with his physician when he gets hit by a car driven by his ex-girlfriend, who just can’t get over him and thinks that he has been stepping out on her (she’s a lunatic, mind you). She thinks that all of John’s visits to the female doctor have been dates, and this ex has had it. So she’s decided to sideswipe John. After all, if she can’t have him, nobody can. So John is hit by the car and dies from his injuries. This means that, yes, John has died, but John has been killed.

I suppose you could argue that certain diseases are violent. I’d probably agree with you and say that just about any way to die is violent; I’m avoiding the whole death thing as best as I can. But it’s up to writers to use distinguishing language that gets across exactly what is meant. Hazy definitions are for weathermen, not writers.

It’s all in the details, folks.

So, to overkill a topic:

Died = nonviolent death
Was Killed = violent death

Happy trails!


October 28, 2009

Pet peeve No. 17: honestly, to tell you the truth and other questionable truisms

Filed under: grammar — bloodywellwrite @ 1:15 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Believe you me, I hear — or see in print — those seemingly innocuous little words and phrases, such as honestly, sincerely, frankly, to tell you the truth and believe me, a lot. And when I say a lot, I really mean a lot.

I’m probably guilty of using a few of them in writings. Why? Not sure, really. Perhaps I was trying to emphasize something. To prove that I absolutely knew what I was writing about. To seem über-sincere. To up my word count for ENGL 726.

No matter. I didn’t fool anyone worth fooling. I absolutely didn’t fool my ENGL 726 professor.

The point is, truly (!), that whenever I come across one of those words or phrases these days, I automatically doubt the rest of the story. If it must begin with To tell the truth, what else am I supposed to believe but that everything that has come before is of questionable validity? You’ve been spoon-feeding me a big, fat lie up until this point but, to tell you the truth, the rest of what’s to come is honest-to-goodness true stuff. Yeah, that sounds trustworthy and believable. Hmph.

Honestly, how else am I supposed to react? Those phrases have flim-flam man written all over them.

The idea here is this: Say what you mean to say. Don’t add silly phrases that make you seem insincere; just be sincere. Say what you mean and mean what you say — don’t say that you mean it. Say it, don’t spray it. (Oh, wait a minute. That’s for another entry.)

Happy trails!


October 19, 2009

How to pronounce “patronize” or The childlike belief of willing something with all of one’s might until it becomes truth

Filed under: pronunciation,Uncategorized — bloodywellwrite @ 3:22 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Here’s an ideal example of the way I thought as a young girl growing up.

I thought, for sure, that if I believed in something “hard enough” — as in almost bugging my eyes out while holding my breath or just willing something to happen with my awesome, mind-bending power — I could make something become true. Granted, the thing I was usually willing with all my might was usually something that had been sitting on the proverbial fence, like would the folks let me have some saltwater taffy at the next rest stop? Or would my parents not care that much that my peas were hidden in the tiny mound of mashed potatoes still left on my plate? (I liked the potatoes, otherwise it would’ve been a massive mound of mashed potatoes hiding the rogue peas.) I thought that I could will my body into producing boys when the time came for children. I believed that I could will myself out of paralysis if the situation were to come up. Very Bionic Woman of me, I’d say.

Whoever did this doesn't know how to hide the peas very well (photo:

Whoever did this doesn't know how to hide the peas very well (photo:

I’m getting to the point, believe it or not, so stick with me for just a little while longer.

Up until very recently, I thought that patronize was spelled two ways because it had two meanings. It made perfect sense to me. It should be pronounced PAY-tron-ize if it’s supposed to mean that you are frequenting someone’s shop or buying a company’s stuff on a regular basis. Why? Because you are a patron (PAY-tron), so you are PAY-tron-iz-ing the shop.

It should be pronounced PAH-tron-ize (as in “pat”) if it’s supposed to mean that you are being condescending or are being treated in a condescending manner. Again, it made perfect sense to me. It’s condescending, as if someone were patting you on the head, saying, “Now, now, little Nellie, you just run along and play and the big girls will take care of everything. Don’t you worry your pretty little head about it.” Patronizing should totally sound like getting patted on the head or, perhaps worse, doing the patting on someone else’s head. That’s linear logic.

But there’s this pesky little thing called research.

I checked into the pronunciation issue on the word. And you know what? I couldn’t will the two pronunciations to mean what I wanted them to mean. Even with all my logic and self-admittedly rock-star Internet research capabilities, I couldn’t come up with facts to back up my beliefs. So disconcerting.

But I’ve decided to bend my mind around the facts at hand. Here’s the real deal on the pronunciation of patronize:

PAY-tron-ize = American English pronunciation
PAH-tron-ize = British English pronunciation

That’s it. Just the bloody American vs. English thing again. Doesn’t matter which meaning you’re trying to convey — just which side of the pond you’re on. If you’re in the United States, use the PAY-tron-ize pronunciation; if your primary audience is Britain-bound, use PAH-tron-ize.

Maddening as all get-out. You say “to-MAY-to,” I say “to-MAH-to.” Thank goodness that life goes on.

By the way, I have two lovely, amazing girly-girls. No boys. Go figure.

Happy trails!


October 7, 2009

Telephone numbers

Jenny, I got your number.

Here’s how the AP Stylebook folks would like to see telephone numbers in print: 123-456-7890.

Ah, hyphens. Hey — at least they dropped the parentheses around the area code. Be happy.

Now, I know this doesn’t jibe with all the designers out there. And you know what? It doesn’t necessarily jibe with me, either. I’m a fan of dots (er, periods). I would rather see this: 123.456.7890.

So I guess what I’m promoting is this:

• If you or your company says that AP rules the proverbial roost and there should be absolutely no deviation, use the hyphens in your phone numbers. (And I’m so completely OK with that, as I do believe that AP has your back nearly every time, grammatically speaking.)

• If, on the other hand, you have a designer itching at the keypad to produce funky (or just non-hyphenated) art with numbers, use periods, stars, squares or whatever else floats that designer’s boat.

Just make it readable. After all, if you’re putting a phone number in print, you probably want people to be able to decipher that number and then call it, correct? Correct.

Happy trails!


September 24, 2009

National Punctuation Day®

Filed under: grammar,punctuation — bloodywellwrite @ 12:39 pm
Tags: , ,

Today is Thursday, September 24, 2009 — the sixth annual celebration of National Punctuation Day (NPD). Punctuation ensures that groups of words make more sense and take on more meaning than you can shake a stick at.

Hooray for punctuation!

In 2004, NPD was founded by Jeff Rubin, a former newspaper guy. In 1981, Rubin started The Newsletter Guy, a newsletter publishing firm. Rubin is also a public speaker, addressing effective writing and marketing techniques. I bet that he also addresses the importance of proper punctuation — but that’s just a guess.

Check out the official Web site. It offers some of the standard stuff (e.g., definitions of each punctuation mark, examples of punctuation gone awry, a resources section); most notable, perhaps, is the information concerning the baking contest. Send in two photos of your masterpiece — one of it going into the oven raw and one of it coming out, all warm and yummy — and you may win a bunch of non-edible NPD stuff. How cool is that?! Very, I say.

Doesn't a bake-off seem like a better idea?! (photo:

Doesn't a bake-off seem like a better idea?! (photo:

OK, stop messing around here and go bake something with meaning, such as a semicolon or em dash. You know you want to.

Happy trails!


September 22, 2009

Theatre vs. theater

Some people say that when it comes to spelling that which is theater — er, theatre — it all comes down to snobbery. Well, to that I say,” Poo-poo to you.”

Outside of the United States, especially in countries that had once been under British control, the word is typically spelled theatre. Those who fought to keep the British spelling didn’t want the proper language to become diluted by a bunch of insolent miscreants — bloody Americans. Stateside, however, theater won out as the predominant spelling. Back in the early 1800s, Noah Webster created “An American Dictionary of the English Language” to Americanize the language of the day, taking out as many British-isms as he could manage. One result: Theatre became theater.

It is prudent to maintain the spelling of any company or movie house or whatnot that happens to spell its name one way, even if you think it should be the other. Some examples:

Music Theatre of Wichita

AMC Theatres

Theatre Rhinoceros (but San Francisco Live Queer Theater)

The Theater section of The New York Times

•  “Paradise Theater” by Styx (but Paradise Theatre in Gig Harbor, Wash.)

There is, however, another distinction between the two words that is gaining in popularity. Even though the AP Stylebook hasn’t come around to agreeing yet (but they will), I think that it makes simple sense and provides a reason to use one spelling instead of another, depending on context. And, of course, since the nature of the English language is one of constant transition, I’m all for promoting the separate — yet equal — definitions. (Go ahead, AP: Put up your dukes.)

Going to the theatre tonight — or maybe they ARE the theatre? (photo:

Going to the theatre tonight — or maybe they are the theatre (photo:

Theatre = anything related to a performance or study of an art form, which is not a structure (e.g., a degree, a company, a troupe).

Theater = a structure that houses a dramatic production (e.g., movie, play, musical, opera, ballet, dance).

So: If you are going to the theater (bricks and mortar) to work on scene construction or set up lights or mow the front lawn, cool. If you’re getting all dolled up for an evening at the theatre (very posh), have a mahhhvelous time, dahhhling.

Easy as “Waiting for Godot.”

Happy trails!


September 10, 2009

Into vs. in to

Filed under: grammar,spelling — bloodywellwrite @ 1:31 pm
Tags: ,

This one, folks, is a simple concept.

Use into if you are describing something in motion or something completely entranced with something else:

• She walked into the shoe store.
• The kids jumped into the piles of leaves.
• He is turning into a werewolf.
• They were totally into Jim Morrison’s poetry.

The muddy boys are jumping into the lake (photo:

The muddy boys are jumping into the lake (photo:

In to
Use in to if in is used as an adverb and to is used as a preposition connecting the verb to an indirect object.

Think of it this way: If the sentence could technically end after in, then you can add a prepositional phrase (i.e., a non-necessary phrase that starts with a preposition and adds a bit of detail to the sentence) by using to after in (but not changing in to into.

Clear as mud? Here are some examples:

• The concerned citizen turned the wallet in to the police. (It could easily read The concerned citizen turned the wallet in. The prepositional phrase is to the police — interesting additional info but not completely necessary for the completion of the sentence.)
• I will not give in to chocolate cravings.
• He was nervous about handing his assignment in to the instructor.

Pooch gave in to the power of nap time (photo:

Pooch gave in to the power of nap time (photo:

See? I told you it was a breeze.

Happy trails!


August 31, 2009

Gray vs. grey

What color is it?

Well, what are we talking about?

An elephant. An oyster. A moody sky. A town in Maine. A city in Georgia. A brewing company. “What’s-her-name’s Anatomy.” One of the lonelier colors in the big box with the cool sharpener.

That’s right — it’s gray. Or is it grey?

Gray can be gorgeous — no matter how you spell it.

Gray can be gorgeous — no matter how you spell it.

The answer depends on your location. If you’re stateside, the color is gray unless it is a person’s or company’s preferred spelling or if you’ve checked Merriam-Webster’s dictionary for first-mentioned spellings.

There are, as always, a few wild hairs:

• Greyhound (a dog, a cocktail)
• Earl Grey (a tea)
• Grey friar (a Franciscan friar)

If you’ve hopped the pond, however, the colour is grey. While you’re in UK English-speaking countries, feel free to use grey as often as you wish, as it is the preferred British spelling.

If you’re writing with the AP Stylebook in mind, however, it doesn’t matter where you are; gray is the way to go. And you know how I feel about the AP Stylebook, don’t you?

Happy trails!


August 25, 2009

-ward vs. -wards: toward or towards?

Here’s a dodgy problem.

Which one is correct: Toward or towards? Backward or backwards? Forward or forwards?

OK, so it’s not that dodgy. It’s pretty simple, really. Let’s focus on toward vs. towards and realize that the answer will be valid for all -ward words.

According to the Merriam-Webster Online dictionary, as well as a host of other dictionaries and Web sites, both versions are technically correct. But one is — how shall I say it? — more technically correct than the other.

Toward, backward, forward, leftward and any other directionally influenced -ward words are used primarily in the United States. Words that add an “s” at the end are primarily British. One guy even did a Google test to see if this is true and found out that, lo and behold, it stands up to a Google search.

For me, the real test is looking it up in the AP Stylebook — the bible of journalists, ad agencies and many writers — and the answer is clear: Toward is the correct term and towards is unacceptable. End of story.

There you have it — unless you want to sound British for some bloody reason, you cheeky bugger.

Happy trails!


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