Monthly Archives: October 2011

Halloween: Hit or myth

This week is the best time of the year. Other seasons are great, but nothing beats the first weeks of fall.

Halloween features long nights and short days, and the probability that imaginations become bizarre. Most people like to be scared, and Halloween’s a perfect occasion for that.

Here’s why this season is great:

Things change. We leave the house early, often needing to scrape our windshields. We don a coat because of the icy car seats, but by the time we arrive at work, it’s time to turn on the AC.

What I enjoy most is the variation. I believed we’d all moved to Phoenix last Sunday when we sat in hot Perkins Stadium bleachers to watch a women’s soccer game. A half hour later, all of us were shivering.

As I’ve written in this space before, in my youth, my mom was a triple-bagger, not in the sense of being a baseball player who smacks mostly three-base hits. No, my triple-bagging mother wouldn’t let us leave the house on fall mornings unless wearing 1) an undershirt, 2) a thick wool or cotton shirt and 3) a sweatshirt. Continue reading

They gave it to she and I

Martha Johnsen often poses questions on tricky grammar issues. Monday, on her morning radio program, she asked which of the two is correct: “He and his wife” or “Him and his wife”?

Donning my Language Cop uniform, I quickly called Martha, the morning DJ on KFUN, and explained that both are correct, depending on their function in the sentence. Though there are exceptions, pronouns that appear at the beginning of the sentence generally are in the nominative case and call for “he,” “she,” “I,” “we,” “they.”

Pronouns at the end (“him,” “her,” “me,” “us,” “them”) usually are in the objective case. But it also depends on the meaning of the sentence. Each of the following sentences demonstrates the proper case of the pronoun: “Both he and his wife are concerned”; “The search involved both him and his wife.” Continue reading

We mustn’t exaggerate

My mommy told me a hundred million times not to exaggerate. But I continue to do so. When something is outrageously expressed, we can always say, “Well, you ought to know I was exaggerating, deliberately.”

For example, when we say, “We’ve been waiting for hours for Amtrak to arrive …“ (Well, that would be accurate.) Let’s say instead, “We’ve been waiting for hours for the Rail Runner.” That’s an exaggeration.

I received an e-mail from a reader, who forwarded a column by the humorist, Dave Barry. It’s titled “Colonoscopy,” and the writer mentions that he’s due to become the host to “a tube 17,000 feet” long. According to Barry, his doctor showed him a color diagram of the colon, “a lengthy organ that appears to go all over the place, at one point passing briefly through Minneapolis.”

Slightly exaggerated, and I use the term slightly lightly, having become acquainted and re-acquainted with the procedure he describes. Continue reading

Someone’s bean misbehaving

A dozen years ago, about a dozen of us retired from Highlands University, having amassed possibly a total of 300 years of service (12 faculty times 25 years average). There must have been enough of us personas non grata to prevent us from celebrating our retirement on the university campus.

Instead, a group of fellow faculty treated us retirees to a buffet dinner and program in the basement of Immaculate Conception School. The building has since become the Father George Salazar Catholic Center. I was pleased to attend, taking my mother, who forever thought of her then-59-year-old retiring “Hijito” as a pre-teen. She beamed, as did many other parents, siblings, children and well-wishers.

When it was my turn at the mike, I thought of the damage my brother Severino and I might have caused during our 12-year tenure at I.C., w-a-y back in the ‘50s. I remarked that I was amazed the building had remained intact. But in reality, I plied much of my discourse with hyperbole. Continue reading