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Grammar Girl

Posted by Kerith , September 6, 2011

I know it’s rotten. I know it’s mean spirited. It’s small, petty, craven, and déclassé. My dad says that “when you roll in the mud with pigs, you get dirty, and they enjoy it.” It’s certainly not the kind of behavior I intend to model for my kids, or even admit to friends. It stems from jealousy. Hey, I’d like to have a million-bazillion blog followers, too. I’d like to publish a book lauding all of the clever, hysterical things I’ve written. It could be a Best of Bruliam, homage to me. So when I noticed the following sentence on a widely circulated wine blog, my jealousy juices burned an ulcer right through my mean, mean stomach. I couldn’t stand idle.

“I write reasonably well, because I’ve been told that by other who many consider to write very well.”

Quickly Grammar Girl, make haste! I heeded the call and sprang to action. With the magical blink of an eye (not “I” or “aye,” homonym habitués), I teleported to a nondescript classroom at a liberal arts college perched on the eastern seaboard. Incognito, I swapped out my Bruliam logo-wear for red tights printed with “Linking verbs seem rad!” Around my neck, beside my shoulders, my cape was lined with prepositions. Actually I’ve had that stuff stashed in the back of the minivan since last Halloween. I’ve got a fairly large trunk. Then I pulled down my mask to shield my identity from the growing throngs of students crowding the quad. One even looked up from her iPad. Victorious, but sweating though my Spanx-enforced leotard, I emerged from between two Corinthian columns as Grammar Girl- Upholder of Comma Rules, Enforcer of Punctuation, and Lord of the Gerund. I grabbed a copy of The Little Brown Handbook from a coed wearing skinny cords and a ripped, ironic t-shirt. Grammar Girl would teach that wine blogger a thing or two about the objective case.

Back at my Sentence Diagramming Laboratory, I skulked about, perfecting my malicious plan. How to out the pretentious lad? How to best roast his fatuous, wine swigging ass? How to lock down a book deal as sweet as his? How I’d spend that fat cash advance. Sky writing with an F-18 fighter plane was too costly. Serial stalking and accosting him at his own front door was too creepy, even for me. I could tweet, but I don’t know how. Finally it hit me. It was simple yet dastardly. I’d take it to the people, his people, in public forum. I’d post a scathing rebuke in the comments portion of his website. (Cue devious laugh).

But then I felt sort of bad. Maybe he’s not dumb, just lazy. After all, when you paste that poorly composed sentence into MS Word the thing practically corrects itself. “Who” is underlined automatically so take the millisecond to make it “whom.” Its like forgeting to youse a splell Czech. No excuse. And if he took the time to read his work aloud to himself, surely he’d catch the other/others oversight. I mean, he’s already assured us that that he “writes reasonably well.” (Thank God he didn’t say good). In the end, I opted to send him a private e mail. Our exchange is posted below. I’ve removed his name to protect his privacy.

On Thursday, September 01, 2011 3:57:10 PM, grammar girl wrote:


I perused today’s post. Rather than post publically, I thought I’d correct your grammar privately.

You noted that, “I write reasonably well, because I’ve been told that by other who many consider to write very well.”

I think it should read “…otherS WHOM…” “Many” are considering so I think you need the objective case there.


His reply:

Thanks – you’re correct! It’s actually missing a word entirely and should read “by other writers whom many consider…”

By the way, please feel free to correct me publicly anytime, it’s totally fine from my perspective.




Too bad it wasn’t the good, clean, devious fun I’d expected. I guess I should just suck it up and ask about his agent.


Leave a comment


  • September 6, 2011 at 9:27 am

    John Smitherman said

    You may not TWEET Kerith, but you can probably translate this….after I finished ROTFLMAO, I decided I must compliment you in my native tongue – Mississippi DELTAese …”YOU DONE REAL GOOD!” I hope we get the opportunity to meet in person in mid-October………. 8-)

  • September 6, 2011 at 11:02 am

    admin said

    Thanks for the kind compliment, John. I hope you’ll hoof it over the mountain next month and drop into Sonoma. I’d say we have greater “Southern Hospitality” than Napa, although I’m certain someone will wrist slap me for that one. Since you referenced your native verbiage, I have to ask if you’ve seen “Hillbillies Hand Fishin’” on TV. I came across it last night and was oddly and inexplicably riveted. These guys bait catfish with their hands!

  • September 7, 2011 at 10:25 am

    John Smitherman said

    Oh yeah, I’ve seen that on TV AND live at the river, but I never tried it!!!!! Called NOODLING…crazy people, who just don’t know any better OR maybe have a snoot full of moonshine beforehand.
    Do you guys have a tasting room in Sonoma….?

  • September 10, 2011 at 9:19 am

    Anne Chodorow said

    Kerith, we miss you and your wonderful, witty humor. Thanks for the laughs. Hugs to you, Brian and the kids. Cheers to living the dream!

  • September 10, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Leili said

    I’m so glad Annie brought your blog to my attention today – After a long day of soccer two ways, it has been wonderful reading your blog this morning. We have been enjoying your Zin i…many thanks to you and Brian and for allowing us to enjoy the result of your n the company of many great friends this summer. Cheers to you and Brian and for allowing us to share your passion for wine. I hope you’re enjoying harvest season, I’m sure it’s spectacular. By the way, please don’t grammar check me … I’m not as confident as Mr. XXX :)

  • September 10, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    Stan Chodorow said

    Kerith, Cornell always did that to its students; I’m glad it was still doing it when you were there. When we were undergrads, it was Strunk & White, and I met a few alums who had taken courses from Strunk, before he wrote the first version of The Elements of Style (1918). As the family grammarian and curmudgeon, I enjoyed your grammatical snit.

  • September 10, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    admin said

    Thanks for your thoughtful compliment. I agree that Strunk & White’s Elements of Style remains the paramount authority on sentence composition and expository writing. My mom claims to have taken class with Professor Strunk. She was an English major at Cornell, too. She is also as old as a dinosaur. I’ve found that The Little Brown Handbook is especially useful for nuts and bolts syntax rules. But of course as a proud Cornellian, I stand behind our most illustrious alums (Ken Dryden) and stellar liberal arts education. As a grammar dork, I enjoy pointing out grammatical blunders in the WSJ and NYT. Maybe you’d like to weigh in on an older post called, “How Proper is Your Pinot?” Luckily, I had a professional editor sort out that linguistical pickle.

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