Yes, I’m observing Festivus a few days early this year. The aluminum pole is looking handsomely unadorned (I find tinsel distracting), and I’m feeling confident about my chances in the Feats of Strength. But first, my favorite part of the Seinfeld-inspired holiday: The Airing of Grievances.
Grievance the First:
From Bushmaster, maker of the semiautomatic rifle used in the Newtown school shootings last Friday, comes a loathsome and witless online campaign that tests the reader’s “manliness” and awards “man cards” for Bushmaster-approved answers.
In English, we say “Which of these.” But that’s obviously the least of my complaints here.
Here’s what you get if you pick “B.”
It’s spelled “privileges,” you dolts.
This one isn’t just reprehensible, it’s prosecutable:
By the way, it’s spelled “attaboy.”
Grievance the Second:
Overkill from a weapons manufacturer isn’t surprising. But from Auntie Anne’s, the wholesome pretzel franchise in practically every U.S. mall? Brace yourself.
Barrage: A heavy curtain of artillery fire; a rapid, concentrated discharge of missiles, as from small arms.
I’m trying to picture all the people who signed off on “carnage” for this holiday campaign’s theme.
Mayhem: Intentional crippling; the wilful and unlawful infliction of injury upon a person, esp. (formerly) the injuring or removing of a limb rendering him less capable of defending himself against attack. Related to “maim.”
Footnote: Anne Beiler, founder of Auntie Anne’s, is a publicly devout Christian whose memoir is titled Twist of Faith and who has said that Auntie Anne’s was “God’s way of providing her with a platform” for what she calls “the real deal.” I wonder whether Beiler is regretting the 2010 sale of Auntie Anne’s to FOCUS Brands, a division of Roark Capital Group. Does “Roark” ring a bell? I thought so.
Hat tip: Ben Yagoda.
Grievance the Third:
Rosetta Stone “tried to create a festive advertisement for their language-learning software and managed to get a three-word sentence wrong in each of three different languages, and two out of the three wrong even on the second try.” (Geoffrey Pullum on Language Log.)
“Let it Schnee, Let it Sneeuw, Let it Snö” – using the noun form of “snow” in German, Dutch, and Swedish, respectively. The ads appeared in London Underground trains.
To its credit, Rosetta Stone later apologized for the error(s): “In a word, we’re ashamed. We tried to capture the spirit and meter of a popular Christmas tune and, regrettably, our enthusiasm for spreading marketing cheer outpaced our respect for linguistic accuracy.”
Grievance the Fourth:
MUJI, the Japanese “no-brand” retailer with stores in 21 countries, recently opened its first West Coast store in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood. This huge screenprinted sign takes up most of the wall behind the ground-floor cash-wrap.
“Three core principals” – uh, “principles.” (It’s spelled correctly on the parent company’s website.)
Grievance the Fifth:
Yes, “chic” is French, but it doesn’t have an accent over the i.
Grievance the Sixth:
Costco wants you to “protect your families valuables this holiday season.”
If you have the conventional single family, that’s “family’s.” If you like to spread the love around, make it “families’.” Either way, the apostrophe is not optional.
Grievance the Seventh:
J. Peterman has built its reputation on literate long-form copy, which didn’t prevent this homophonal stumble in the print-on-paper holiday catalog.
Grievance the Eighth:
Grievance the Ninth:
A printed sign in a “handwritten” font in the window of Chicken Dijon Rotisserie & Grill on Hollywood Boulevard, L.A. Chicken Dijon is a Southern California chain that could afford a proofreader.
“Fish” and “Grilled” are incorrectly capitalized; “it’s” lacks an apostrophe.
Grievance the Tenth:
I think these lights flicker, but it’s hard to say for sure.
Pro tip: kerning.
(Via Diane Fischler.)
Happy Festivus to the rest of us!