relentlessly edifying for no good reason 

May 20th, 2010

Man thrives where angels die of ecstasy and pigs die of disgust.

Kenneth Rexroth

The difficult and the incomplete should be positive events in our understanding.

Richard Sennett


For sale:one dog's breakfast. slightly messy. 4$ Box k9.
For rent: Canoe. Ideal for canoeing. 500$/day. It's a really nice canoe. Box 30.
I am moving to France next year and I am looking for people who have been there to fill me in on some of the details. For instance: Do you have to like crossaints? Do they drink wine at breakfast? Is the accordion music all night as well? If you have the straight dope (le tout droit drogue?) on France contact me at Box 188.

The Mystery of the Lost Lenore

Listen to Part Fifty-Seven

Click on the picture. (3:17)

Or start from the beginning.



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The Somewhat Less Than Triumphal Return of

The Armchair Grammarian

This week Leonard Derwerthy tackles the problem of who and whom.

A lot of people stop me on the street to ask directions but that really has nothing to do with who or whom so let us move on.

Who is used in any sentence when you are not sure who is talking; whom should be used when you don't know whom you are talking to. When you don't know what is talking, put down your drink and go home.

One way to know if you are using who or whom incorrectly is if people seem to start tittering when you are speaking (although that could just be your voice which you must admit is pretty hilarious). A better way is to never use either one. But of course, that is not without its difficulties.

For instance, what would one do when confronted by the following knock, knock joke?

"Knock, knock"

"Would the person knocking on the door please identify themselves?"

Sure, it's a little stilted but what kind of person over the age of eight tells knock, knock jokes anyway? Now maybe you have a lot of seven year old friends who (did you see that?) are regular cut-ups and you just love playing Bud Abbott to their little Lou Costellos so there is no real way you can avoid using "who". If that is the case you can still avoid using "whom".

Seriously, there's really no reason to ever use "whom". "Whom were you tying to that tree earlier?" "I don't know whom you mean when you say 'Mr. Piggly'." "You want me to short-sheet whom?" These are clearly very silly sentences and speaking any of them (never mind writing them down) will make you a very silly person and who wants that?

Next time the Armchair Grammarian looks at ending a sentence a preposition with.

Anyone knowing the whereabouts of my old friend Skippy the Wonder Tuna please mail his sorry can back to me. All is forgiven!

The New Adventures of


Teddy Kroft, by night a mild-mannered cleaner of offices and retail businesses, becomes, during the day, PLAUSIBLE SUGGESTION MAN! With his super ability to devise fairly workable schemes and reasonable solutions to smallish problems, PLAUSIBLE SUGGESTION MAN stands boldly astride the almost mid-sized metropolis of Mudwater like a average strength Colossus, ever ready to be sort of helpful.
This week PLAUSIBLE SUGGESTION MAN takes on the evil Wishful Thinker!

The Wishful Thinker, an evil genius who has the power to cloud people's minds with ideas that seem good because they closely resemble the wishes of the people whose minds he is clouding, had suceeded in convincing a number of individuals who worked in the same office that they had attained a high level of expertise in the realm of global warming merely by spending 15 minutes on Wikipedia.

These people, who had been confused into thinking that they were thinking clearly, were now in danger of making decisions about the possible purchase of solar powered leaf blowers that were somewhat flawed and could have consequences that might be slightly or even perhaps mildly disadvantageous to themselves or even possibly, to some extent at any rate, to the environment. Clearly this was a job for PLAUSIBLE SUGGESTION MAN!

PLAUSIBLE SUGGESTION MAN with very little delay, cautiously sidled into the midst of the crowd that was huddled over one person's iMAC. Hesitating only slightly until there was a slight pause in the conversation, he cleared his throat with a respectful attention-getting "ahem", straightened his clip-on bow tie and said, in a voice just loud enough for those standing next to him to hear, "I believe Canadian Tire has some rakes on sale."

Once again PLAUSIBLE SUGGESTION MAN had, if not saved the day, at least put in his two cents worth in a fairly timely fashion.

Frank Speeking

Special thanks to TK for his plausible suggestion.