We all make mistakes; some are funnier than others
Posted: Friday, April 9, 2010 8:01 pm
We probably make more of them than people at any other time in history, because we sweep lots of plain old “sins” under the rug and identify them as harmless mistakes these days.
But that’s another column.
This one truly is about mistakes — errors in action, opinion or judgment caused by poor reasoning, carelessness or insufficient knowledge. It’s about mistakes we come across in the printed word as we review our own work or proofread a fellow reporter’s stories and those we spot with glee in some other publication we read in the office.
1. From a local police report last year
“The males started following him on … Street and when he turned on to … Street, one hit him in the back of the head and both started ‘hitting on him.’”
We assume the victim was neither flattered nor in the mood to reciprocate the affections of his attackers, since he seemed eager to call their actions to the notice of the police.
Hint: The giggles originate between the quotation marks. And if you can’t figure this one out, you’ve been avoiding discourse in popular culture way too long — although we certainly understand why.
2. From a front page story in an area paper from 2008
A photo showing three people looking at copies of a paper donated to the area’s genealogical society for storage in that city’s library had the following caption: “With the help of the Genealogical Society, the newspapers will be indexed and available for public view at the library. Historian … and public librarian … pursued the fragile books with … .”
Newspaper stories do sometimes “run on” (and know one knows that better than I), but we suspect none of these were actually trying to escape.
Hint: We are fairly sure this trio of interested citizens meant simply to look at the books — as in “perusing” and not to chase them down, as “pursuing” would indicate. But you never know about people who get excited by really old stuff. They might even be moved to “hit on” an historical figure they had “pursued.”
3. From a meeting report submitted by a local homemaker’s club to the women’s editor
It was noted that two members had “sown” pretty utility type aprons.
Do you share with us that immediate image in your mind of “pretty aprons all in a row” sprouting up in someone’s backyard garden?
Hint: The whole thing was rather “seedy,” but we searched around for a homophone and came up with the term “sewn,” which is what the ladies in question probably actually did with the fabric. And, in case you are wondering, a homophone is not the instrument you make calls on from the non-cellular phone at your house. It is a word pronounced like another word that differs in meaning, whether it is spelled the same way or not.
4. From a headline in an area paper last year
“… man killed in tragic accident.”
We considered whether it would be possible to pair the words “killed” and “accident” in the same thought and have it be something other than “tragic.”
Hint: Sadly enough, it doesn’t seem likely, does it? But perhaps the writer wanted to be sure everyone got the idea that real hand-wringing-type mourning — and not a simple “tsk-tsk” — was in order.
5. From a column posted online last year entitled “Nation of Cowards”
“In New York City, one of the nations safest large cities, 83 percent of all gun assailants were black during the first six months of 2008.”
There was no word on what color they were during the last six months.
Hint: Those little modifying phrases such as “during the first six months” need to be carefully placed to avoid guffaws. Although, in this instance, it might have been better simply to start over. It would, of course, have been even nicer if such stories never had to be written in the first place.
6. From a spokesman about Michael Jackson’s death:
“He’s going to wake up dead and it will all be because of drugs,” said a spokesman after Michael Jackson’s death. He said he had told Jackson’s family this some time before.
We wonder if they still expect Michael to open his eyes or if they have since hired a new spokesman with a better understanding of earthly finality.
Hint: Do we really have to explain the “deadly” problem with this one?
7. From an ad in our own paper about an upcoming event that would include food
“… grilled hamburgers, hotdogs, bologna w/trimmings, desert & drinks at noon.”
We’re not sure about anyone else, but we would prefer to consume the meal in a less sandy and sunny place than any available desert. It’s all a matter of taste, however.
Hint: We think the ad designer was looking for the word “dessert” and not the “desert” associated with the Sahara or Mojave, but perhaps the copy editor was just inserting some “dry” humor.
8. From a front page story in a paper in a neighboring community
“H… eventually agreed to the proposed $2 fee under the terms that once the project was paid for, the water bill fee would ‘cease and decease.’
If only all fees and taxes would “pass on” once they have outlived their usefulness.
Hint: We think the writer meant “cease and desist,” as in “stop” and not “cease and decease,” as in “die,” but we understand the sentiment, either way. We suspect most of us will “cease and decease” before government voluntarily gives back anything it has managed to take from us.
Published in The Messenger 4.9.10