Thursday, January 27, 2011


I've been so busy with work that I haven't had time or energy to blog much recently. Sorry about that. But I like to think that the millions of readers of the national magazine I work for are getting the benefit of my hard work.


Our February issue is just out and features a pretty cool cover story and lots more inside. Last night I received the first comment on the issue from a reader. It left me despaired.

No mention whatsoever about how interesting the articles are this month. Not a word on the great writing or terrific photography. Instead, it was a rant on how the word "despaired" in a caption was hyphenated. Because of space constraints, the word broke at the end of a line: despair-ed.

According to this reader's dictionary, despaired is two syllables, not three, and breaks only at de-spaired. The kind reader then signed off with "rules are rules!"

I tried to be kind in my response, saying that dictionaries differ and that rules are usually not rules, but rather traditions, and those can be broken. Blasphemous, I know, but true.

Then I tried to resist despair. So far, it's working.

"Resist Despair" T-shirt available at

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Prophecy vs. Prophesy

Prophecies can be tricky. That's why I tend to avoid them.

But if you can't, then be sure to distinguish between prophecy and prophesy. What's the difference?

Prophecy is a noun–meaning a prediction of something to come–and is pronounced "see" at the end (it rhymes with "look at me").

Prophesy is a verb: to make a prediction. It's pronounced "sigh" at the end (rhymes with "my oh my").

Unfortunately, in a recent article I let slip by "prophesies" where "prophecies" was meant. A keen-eyed Italian reader called me–gingerly, and actually by email–on the mistake.

Mistakes will be made, but I prophesy that I won't let that slip by again. I hope that prophecy comes true.

In the meantime, I wish a very happy new year to all my readers.

"In accordance with the prophecy..." T-shirt available at