Ten Years

Ten years ago today, I had this email exchange with a stranger (who was thrown off by the nickname I then wrote under) that, it is safe to say, my life would be very different today without.

Here’s to another ten.

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Alison,

I just wrapped up another of your TWoP recaps, and it suddenly became important for me to write you a note thanking you for your consistently hilarious and astute work. As an avowed Apprentice and Survivor geek, I don’t feel like I’ve seen an episode until I’ve devoured your account. It’s too bad they can’t all be compiled into liner notes for the DVD box sets, though that’d probably present challenges both logistical (for reasons of word count) and political (for reasons of you calling Donald Trump a douchebag).

That said, I hope you’ll indulge me in a bit of grammatical nitpicking. (I just ended a 12-year run as The Onion’s copy editor, so I’ve got to nitpick someone.) On page 11 of the Apprentice roundup, you refer to a football team “comprised of chemists and French horn players” – that should be “composed of” or “comprising,” but never “comprised of.” It’s got to be the most common grammatical error in the English language right now, with the possible exception of “begs the question,” which is almost never used correctly. Also, if plans are coming together, they’re “jelling,” not “gelling.”

Whew. When did I become such a pompous gasbag? Oh, wait: Long ago. Sorry about that.

Anyway, your work is wonderful, and it makes my life better. Thank you for that.

Best,

Stephen Thompson

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Daaaamn. I can’t believe I did that. Yeah, I did do that to “comprised,” and as soon as I read it, I was like, “Shit, I even know that one.” It’s one of those where I actually would actually get it right if specifically asked. If you gave me a test, I’d get that one, but I can write it the wrong way myself and never see it. Feh.

Gel? Jell? Bleh. That one, I can’t claim to know. It’s an expression I usually hate, so I’ve probably never learned it. But I will try hard to make a mental note, with the caveat that most of my mental notes turn out to be written in pencil. 

I never even attempt “begs the question,” because I know that I’ve never been able to entirely wrap my brain around it, no matter how many times I hear it explained. If I can read the Bryan Garner explanation and still not get it, I just decide I can probably come up with a better way to say whatever I’m trying to say. It’s why I make such frequent use of “makes ya wonder.” (I know! It’s a joke! That’s not what it means! I know!)

I’m so glad you like the recaps. I love The Onion, of course, although perhaps you left in a bitter and horrifying divorce, in which case I hate The Onion, and everyone who works there is a douche. 

And you’re free to nitpick anytime. The people I hate are the ones who nitpick me about the shit I didn’t even get wrong. (Yes, I get them all the time. “Um, HELLO? I believe the expression you are looking for is that the boat was FLOUNDERING.” Those bitches.

Aaaanyway, now that I have proved* that I have a potty mouth and rely too much on parentheses – and, usually, dashes, although not as much in this particular email – I will let you go.

Linda (“Alison” being, technically, my middle name) 

*I know! Both are acceptable! Go figure. I used to love being a pompous gasbag about people who used “proven” here, until I got bitch-slapped by a usage book.