Monthly Archives: July 2014

Summertime (and the livin’ is easy)!

Last week’s Pacific Northwest heat-wave (it reached 90 degrees four times!!) almost constituted a state of emergency (admittedly, it was a wee bit hotter in the Southwest and central California—hitting triple digits every day).  And heat makes people do funny things.  As detective Oscar Grace explained in the movie Body Heat (written by Lawrence Kasdan):

We’ve got more of everything bad since the wave started.  It’s the crisis atmosphere.  People dress different, feel different, sweat more.  They wake up cranky and they never recover.  Pretty soon people think the normal rules don’t apply.  They start breaking them; figure no one will care cause it’s emergency time.

One way to deal with the heat is to find a body of water, such as the Columbia River, Oneata Gorge, or the Pacific Ocean, and pass the day sipping cool beverages and listening to music.  And there are plenty of great summer songs.  For example, those inclined toward the classics might choose George and Ira Gershwin’s “Summertime”:

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy/Fish are jumpin’, and the cotton is high/Your daddy’s rich, and your mamma’s good lookin’/So hush little baby, don’t you cry.

Or how about the Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Summer in the City”:

 Hot town, summer in the city/Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty/Been down, isn’t it a pity/Doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city/All around, people looking half dead/Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head.

Of course, you could stay cool by finding a dark basement and studying the rules of capitalization.  Here are the rules that apply to what you just read:

  • Do capitalize Geographic regions (e.g., the Pacific Northwest, the Southwest).
  • Do capitalize rivers, oceans, mountains, islands, etc. (e.g., Pacific Ocean, Columbia River, Oneata Gorge).
  • Do capitalize songs and movies (e.g., Body Heat, Summertime).
  • Don’t capitalize seasons (e.g., summer).
  • Don’t capitalize compass points and terms derived from them (e.g., central California).
  • And generally, don’t capitalize job titles (e.g., detective Oscar Grace).

That is all for now …

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Filed under Capitalization

Was Brazil’s loss incredible … or incredulous?

Many writers make the mistake of using “incredulous” when they really mean “incredible.”  Such malapropos can be amusing when employed as a comedic device, but an unintentional error will have the reader laughing at you—rather than with you.

So what’s the difference?  “Incredible” describes something that astounds, especially in a pleasing way, e.g.,

  • Ron obtained an incredible trial result.
  • The view from the Tooth of Time was incredible.

But far too often the Scribe sees something like this:

  • Did you see the incredulous sunrise this morning?

Yikes!  Incredulous should not be used interchangeably with incredible.  Incredulous describes a state of being disbelieving, doubting, or skeptical.  It should never be used to describe an amazing event.

That is all for now …

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Filed under Troublesome Words