Some things bother me like all get-out. Musically, for example, there's that line in "Moon River" about "waiting 'round the bend … my huckleberry friend." Now, I'm familiar with Tom Sawyer's buddy, Huckleberry Finn, but for the life of me I can't figure out what a huckleberry friend is.
Then there's that smooth-as-silk song I hear every once in a while on KNOT – "Mary in the Morning" – after which the announcer invariably credits the vocalist as being Al Martino, when every bone in my body cries out that those mellifluous sounds coming out of the radio belong to Ed Ames. (I may be wrong, but I may be right, as Billy Joel puts it … after all, I've confused Paul Anka with Bobby Darin and am the first to admit to being less than perfect.)
So maybe I should just not fret about such inane matters and, if I had a 78-rpm record player, curl up with one of those Homer & Jethro classics of a half-century or so ago such as "I Love You for Seventy Mental Reasons" or "I Dream of Brownie with the Light Blue Jeans" and simply let the rest of the world go by.
Not only music has its quirks, but there's also the five-day weather forecast on Channel 56, where they promise that some days will be "mostly sunny" while others will be "partly cloudy." I'm just not all that sure what the difference between the two is. (I also used to worry about the difference between "scattered thunderstorms" and "isolated thundershowers," but that's not a problem now that the monsoon went thataway.)
Working as a copy editor has its moments, too. For example, not long ago I was reading along on a Courier reporter's story and came onto a reference to the filing of "an imminent domain lawsuit." Sounded to me like whoever was filing the suit was probably already on the courthouse steps, so to be on the safe side I changed it to "eminent domain."
Then there was a mention of "plans to construct a new 20,000-square-foot building" on a site. Well, since hardly anybody is into constructing old buildings nowadays, I killed the "new" reference.
Another reference was to the "ATS&F Railroad." All of you remember the ol' Atchison, Topeka, Santa & Fe line, don't you?
Recently, too, I came onto a reference from one of our reporters who described a project as including "three covered armadas." Well, it would take a mighty big tarp to cover three fleets of warships, so I made it "ramadas." (OK, you purists out there will no doubt point out that "ramada" isn't listed in your Webster's. "Ramadan" yes, but "ramada" no. And all I can say to that is that the dictionary should be ashamed of itself for the omission. It's a Spanish word, agreed, but strikes a chord with most English-speaking types.)
Then there was a reference to some folks waiting "with baited breath." That sounded fairly fishy, so I changed "baited" to "bated."
Note, too, that I dutifully placed the period inside the quotation mark after "bated" in the previous paragraph. I draw this to your attention only because I have this friend down in Green Valley who swears up and down that the punctuation mark always – without fail – goes inside the quotation mark, but I'm here to say that there are exceptions to that rule. For example, you wouldn't go with this usage: Have you seen "Gone with the Wind?" That would change the title of the book, so in that instance it is proper to go with: Have you read "Gone with the Wind"?
I rest my case, Green Valley friend.
Contact Jerry Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org.