A Monthly Meditation on Branding and Language
From Your Favorite Copy Shop, Editorial Emergency

#39 (May 4, 2010): Blame It on Vegas

As some of you undoubtedly noticed, this issue came out a little late. Funny story: We went to Vegas to celebrate the 40th birthday of a dear friend and woke up several days later next to the nickel slots at the Sands with Kit Kat wrappers stuck to our faces. By then our usual last-Friday-of-the-month deadline was toast. So we greet you with a sheepish apology and the following, which includes an em-barrassment of riches, more "fail" folderol, some Nazi zombies from Norway and a tweet-and-sour entry in the Not Our Clients May sweeps. Oh, and because we're late, this issue is comped.

Red Pen Diaries: A Dash of Drama

ImageWhen my 12-year-old nephew, Caleb, asked what I was going to write about for the next newsletter, I said: "The em dash." He confessed that he didn't know what that was. "Neither do most adults," I explained.

First, what the em dash is not: It's not a hyphen, as in "small-business owner" (not to be confused with "small business owner" — how small IS he?).

Nor is it an en dash, found here: "'Stairway to Heaven' appears on pp. 16–18 of your hymnals." Nor is it the dash in Morse code that is equal to three dots (at least I don't think it is).

The em dash, my friends, is the mother of all dashes, the big one, the one that's as long as the typeset capital letter "M." It's what we talk about when we talk about dashes, sometimes simply known as "a dash." (Two hyphens side by side [--] sometimes stand in for the em dash.)

Read the rest here.

Call-Back: My Epic Fail Failure

ImageIn our last issue, among other things, I failed to make my point about the potential pitfalls of abbreviating "failure" as "fail"; instead, I inspired some of our faithful readers to write in and explain that the use of "fail" as a short form of "failure" is "nearly always a joke," in the words of Texas-bred Seattleite Alex O'Neal, my favorite taxonomist, who also happens to be a Web-experience strategist and writer.

Alex went on to illuminate: "The original point of the joke was that 'fail' was a failure of English ... The word was misused in a Japanese video game that used poor English, and the joking usage spread among game and software geeks. Since the poor grammar is the joke, it doesn't make sense to criticize it."

Read the rest here.

Round and Shiny: Norway the Hard Way

ImageIf you see only one film this year about Nazi zombies attacking Norwegian vacationers, I recommend Dead Snow (D¯d sn¯).

It's a setup dear to any gore-lover's heart, albeit with a Scandinavian twist: A group of party-minded twentysomethings arrives at the frozen resort village of ÿksfjord, only to find their reindeer games turn into a bloody struggle for survival. For a throng of the undead rules these icy mountains, and will eviscerate anyone who dares venture there — especially sex-crazed youngsters with snowmobiles.

Read the rest here.

Not Our Clients: "Daisy, Daisyyyyy ... " Edition

TweetDeck is one of those super-helpful social-networking applications you desperately need to stay on top of your friends' tweets and status updates via computer, smart phone, iPad, government-issue BrainChip (patent pending) or other device. It's particularly useful for — well, we'll let them explain:

Yet another promising communication tool devolves into gibberish.

What have we learned today? Communicating at the speed of light isn't much good if what you're communicating sounds like HAL melting down at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

For more instant mortification, visit Not Our Clients. Spotted any dodos in the Tweetosphere? This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it If we decide to display them in our hall of unnatural curiosities, we'll feather your nest with an iTunes gift card. It's redeemable for such avian favorites as "Rockin' Robin," "Birdhouse in Your Soul" or anything by dance-floor diva Tweet.


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