Up in the air: AP Stylebook alters flier vs. flyer ruling

Back in the dark ages (2009, to be exact), I wrote an entry about the use of “flier” vs. “flyer,” citing the AP Stylebook as my source.

Those devilish AP editors have changed their minds.

According to the latest AP Stylebook ruling dated March 27, 2017: “Our new style: flyer, not flier, for most uses. Frequent flyer programs, advertising flyers. Exception: ‘take a flier,’ as in ‘take a risk.'”

The AP folks altered their guideline after researching websites of the airline industry; they determined that most use the term “frequent flyer” instead of “frequent flier” (which, if you think lightly on it, makes sense). They’ve carried that same thinking through to “marketing flyers” (not “marketing fliers” anymore).

So while it may take me a hot minute to rewire my brain to automatically write “flyer” for most instances, I think it’ll be an easy transition. Hope you’ll give it a whirl, too.

Happy trails!

SAK

Time to celebrate: It’s National Punctuation Day®!

As you’ve all waited eagerly with bated breath the arrival of Sept. 24, you may now heave a collective sigh and let out all the whoops and hollers you’d like. National Punctuation Day is here!

Happy National Punctuation Day! (photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cefeida/2451798969/in/set-72157603598182024/

Happy National Punctuation Day! (photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cefeida/2451798969/in/set-72157603598182024/

Unclear about how to use the dreaded ellipsis? Confused concerning ending punctuation placement with quotation marks? Befuddled when it comes to colons versus semicolons? You’re in the right place — especially today.

To celebrate this all-important holiday, just do a search for your punctuation dilemma and there’s a good chance that you’ll find a (dare I write) fun post explaining it. If your search leaves you unfulfilled, drop me a line and I’ll write up an article to quench your thirst for your particular punctuation query.

If you’d like to read more, enjoy this humorous take on “6 Common Punctuation Mistakes That Drive Us Crazy,” courtesy of the Huffington Post folks.

Happy trails!

SAK

Something’s in the air: Wasps vs. mud daubers

We built our house and have lived in it for over a year now and, as much as we love it, we didn’t realize that we’d also be providing a home for a lot of other creatures — namely, mud daubers.

It seems as though every few weeks, we have a new nest built somewhere on our front porch. These nests are particularly visible because the mud daubers build them on the vertical surface of our (whitish) cottonwood stone walls.

Let me share: It’s not a good look.

I’ve asked my husband to knock the nests down several times. This last time, however, I wanted a nest gone — and gone yesterday — when he didn’t happen to be home. So I put on my brave girl boots and did the job myself.

Let me share again: It’s nasty work.

The mud dauber creates a mud nest that looks like a series of tubes. Once the mud tubes dry, the mud dauber brings back some sort of bug that it has paralyzed with a sting. The mud dubber shoves the carcass into the mud tube and leaves its egg inside to grow and subsequently feed on the dead bug. So when I smashed the mud casing, out fell a larvae.

Blech. Ten times blech.

Anyway, the point of this post isn’t to gross anyone out; it’s to talk about the differences between a wasp and a mud dauber, because before I did the dirty deed myself, I relied on my husband to take care of the mess while I turned a blind eye to the situation.

Organ pipe mud dauber nest (photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/50352333@N06/5463787112/in/set-72157625973505207/)

Organ pipe mud dauber nest (photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/50352333@N06/5463787112/in/set-72157625973505207/)

Was I going to get stung by a mud dauber? I had a reasonable amount of fear since I had been stung at age 6 by a raving wasp whose nest had been disturbed by silly boys who thought it great fun to poke a stick into the nest. Silly me for playing with silly boys, I suppose, particularly since I — the innocent bystander — was the one to get stung.

To prevent a repeat sting occurrence, I researched mud daubers and wasps (not knowing the difference) and am happy to report that, typically, mud daubers don’t sting for kicks. Here’s what else I found out:

  • Mud daubers typically sting only when provoked; they do not tend to guard their nests as if their lives depended on it. Wasps defend their nests. And not just one wasp — so if you choose to meddle with a wasp nest, be prepared for a serious battle.
  • Mud daubers are larger but more slender than wasps. While both mud daubers and wasps are black and yellow, the coloring on wasps is more noticeable.
  • Mud daubers are solitary insects that gather mud to build their tubelike nests on vertical surfaces, such as porches, awnings or decks. Wasps live communally and build large nests out of wood fibers and their saliva. Their nests can be underground and above ground.

Happy trails!

SAK

Some like it hot: Fra diavolo vs. arrabbiata

I worked as a server at Teller’s in Lawrence, Kan., shortly after the Italian-inspired restaurant opened in the old bank building. For a year, I had the opportunity to serve (and sample) one of the most interesting and delicious menus in the area.

Now, almost 20 years and several iterations later, Teller’s is changing its concept to a gastropub. The jury’s definitely out on how this new version will fare, but I look forward to trying it at least once. Or twice.

But to the point: My favorite dish from back in the day was Tortellini Fra Diavolo. Wow! Talk about a dish to write home about. A vegetarian’s delight, it featured soft, yummy tortellini in a spicy tomato sauce, topped with grated-tableside Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Throughout the years, the menu changed a bit every time I went back to visit, but I could always find my fra diavolo — until the official name changed to Tortellini Arrabbiata. Still — so, so good.

Penne arrabbiata (photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/naotakem/3561421978/in/photostream/)

Penne arrabbiata (photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/naotakem/3561421978/in/photostream/)

So what brings me to this post? I’ve often wondered what the difference is between fra diavolo sauce and arrabbiata sauce. This is what I’ve found:

Fra diavolo — An Italian term meaning “brother devil” (or, alternatively, “from the devil” or “among the devil”), fra diavolo conjures up the heat from — typically but not always — chili peppers combined with — again, typically but not always — tomatoes and onions. Fra diavolo sauce sometimes gets its heat from cayenne or other varieties of peppers. It’s usually served with pasta and/or seafood, such as shrimp.

Arrabbiata — Meaning “angry” in Italian, arrabbiata sauce fires the soul with red chili peppers, garlic, onions, tomatoes and olive oil. It is primarily served as a vegetarian dish over penne pasta or another tubular pasta.

So — arrabbiata is a type of fra diavolo sauce, but fra diavolo isn’t necessarily a type of arrabbiata sauce. Capisce?

Happy trails!

SAK

Groovy, man: Tie-dying

On the way to drop the kiddos off at camp this morning, our conversation turned to the art of tie-dying. Naturally, their youngish minds decided that tie-dying had something to do with dying — as in kaput — and they let me know it via howls and giggles and indecipherable mumbles from the backseat (“Oh, I’m dead! Aaahhh!”). ‘Cause, you know, death is hilarious.

So there I was, driving amid the chaos that was the inside of my car, trying to explain to the kiddos that the dying part of tie-dying is related to dye (D-Y-E), which refers to changing the color of fabric, whereas die (D-I-E) refers to, you know, being kaput for the long term.

This is just one reason why I respect teachers — because the gods have made sure that I realize I don’t have the capacity to teach them certain things that teachers, those third-party rock stars, can.

But I digress.

Tie-dying is the process of transforming a piece of cloth or object — typically white — into a groovy, swirly, colorful item. The artist uses rubber bands or string to tightly secure the fabric that’s been folded a certain way to produce a desired end result, such as circles or spirals. Then, each section of cloth is dyed a particular color. Once the item is rinsed and the color(s) set, the item is ready for wear or display.

A spiral tie-dye (photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/71023733@N00/4899661818/sizes/z/in/photolist-8sY3KU-8sXVAG-8sXWjQ-8sXVpU-8sXTAf-8sXTb7-8sUSet-8sUS2Z-8sXT3N-8sUTfg-8sUUMT-8sXXqG-8sUWhg-8sUQM6-8sUWFT-8sXZgh-8sXUY7-8sUUFH-8sURbx-8sUWTH-8sUT5F-8sXZ4G-8sXXMf-8sURyM-8sXUtJ-8sUSFe-8sXVLS-8sXX6u-8sXXBN-8sUW78-8sUTTp-85xnvc-85AvxN-8sUSt6-8sURkP-8sXYim-8sUUdg-8sURGX-8sUV1c-8sURW6-8sXSMU-8sXYrG-aonrpy-Ms8xG-eMki9-aomZ2B-aa9Dg2-2B3SUo-85xqZF-85xFGT-85CfYy/)

A spiral tie-dye (photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/71023733@N00/4899661818/in/photostream/)

From the day I first saw them, I’ve been enamored with all things tie-dyed. What’s not to love about the cheery colors and free-spirited patterns? The hand-crafted nature of each item? The do-it-yourself ingenuity? The history behind the practice, which dates back to the early A.D. period in Peru? The wild, psychedelic patterns and colors that proudly reek of good times (often, literally)?

Love it, man.

Happy trails!

SAK

Fun word of the day: Prestidigitation

Magic.

I love it and hate it all at once. I love the mystery, the voilà moment, the how-the-heck-did-that-happen action happening on the stage in front of my very eyes. At the same time, it bothers me that I can’t comprehend how some of those tricks really occur. Boggles my mind, actually. It’s unnerving.

All that prestidigitation is as entertaining as it is maddening.

Yeah, that’s a mouthful, isn’t it? I heard it a week or so ago and my significant other had to repeat it multiple times for me to even grasp how to pronounce it. He, of course, had heard the word before and was more than happy to educate me on its meaning:

Prestidigitation (noun) = sleight of hand

From the French word preste (alternatively, the Italian presto), which means nimble, and the Latin digitus, which means finger, the word begins to make sense, yes?

The Magic Kingdom

The Magic Kingdom

The first-known use of the word was, according to Merriam-Webster, in 1859. Harry Houdini, born in 1874, was a master of prestidigitation. Modern-day prestidigitators (aka magicians and illusionists) include Criss Angel, Siegfried & Roy, David Copperfield, David Blaine and the dynamic comedic duo of Penn and Teller.

“Prestidigitator” is also the name of an oil and watercolor on fabric and cardboard, created by Paul Klee in 1927.

Happy trails!

SAK

Word of the day: Resolutionist

January 2013 has come and gone and, with it, many a resolutionist.

Resolutionist is a fun word that I found on Urban Dictionary. It refers to a person who joins a gym at the first of the year because he or she has made a resolution to work out/get fit/be healthy, only to drop membership before three months have passed. It can also refer to the person who boasts that, come January 1, he or she will definitely, absolutely, without question do such-and-such or not do so-and-so.

Uh-huh.

If you’re a gym rat, you know and love resolutionists, no doubt. They somehow occupy all — all! — the machines that you would normally frequent. They grunt and groan through weight-lifting reps. They breathe heavily enough to warrant an immediate visit to the doctor. They regale you with stories of past failed attempts to get fit and pinky-promise you that this time, by gum, it’ll be different.

And then you don’t see your new-found friends at the gym again — breaks your heart, I know. You’ll get over it.

Happy trails!

SAK

Fun word of the day: Hardscape

Having completed the building process for our new home a few months ago, it seems almost impossible that I haven’t heard this term until now. Perhaps I did and just glossed right over it. But it’s recently come to my attention and I think that it deserves its own blog post.

Hardscape.

Seems like a word you could probably figure out its meaning without too much effort, yes? Once you hear the definition, you’ll most likely agree. Here goes:

Hardscape is a landscaping term (aha!) that refers to structures made with hard materials. Examples include patios, walkways, retaining walls and statues. Hardscapes can be made from bricks, stones, rocks — anything that is meant to be a permanent fixture of the landscape.

Hardscapes can focus more on function, but they can also embrace form, bringing additional beauty to the space. For your viewing pleasure, I’ve found a few examples that I think are aesthetically pleasing:

A large patio in Argentina (photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/agent1994/399182073/)

A large patio in Argentina (photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/agent1994/399182073/)

A lovely stone walkway (photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mccready/328684979/)

A lovely stone walkway (photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mccready/328684979/)

A brick retaining wall and patio in Georgia (photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/arnoldmasonryandconcrete/4925953103/)

A brick retaining wall in Georgia (photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/arnoldmasonryandconcrete/4925953103/)

A retaining wall and Buddha statue in Washington (photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wonderlane/7213547170/)

A retaining wall and Buddha statue in Washington (photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wonderlane/7213547170/)

Happy trails!

SAK

Tech word of the day: Phablet

First off: Happy 2013, Bloody Well Write readers!

Thanks to a Facebook friend, I have a new topic for this crazy grammar blog: phablet.

Granted, I had to look it up. Yes, I have an iPhone and a MacBook Pro. No, I don’t have a tablet of any variety — including a Kindle, Nook or iPad Mini. I may very well be falling out of touch with the pulse of technology. But by gum and by golly, I now know what a phablet is, and I think you should, too (even if it’s an annoying portmanteau):

Phablet = a touchscreen device with a screen size between 5 and 7 inches.

A 5-inch phablet

A 5-inch phablet

A phablet runs the gamut between a smartphone and a mini tablet. Sometimes, a phablet comes equipped with a stylus; sometimes, not. My guess is that it is just a little too big to let you place a phone call without looking goofy. And while it is better for displaying media than smartphones, it’s not as good at it as its larger full-on tablet cousins.

Plenty of people will think these devices are (I’m so sorry) phab, but probably only those who can afford three similar devices (phone, phablet and tablet) rather than the poor man’s two techie gadgets (phone and tablet) will bite the bullet. First-world problems, for sure.

Happy trails!

SAK