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Your Horoscope
Week of July 21
(Ramp Accessible)
Born this week you might be a Cancer, you might be a Leo, or you might experience a disconcerting growth spurt in one of your vestigial organs. No matter, your chances for a normal life are better than Rory Culkin's, 24, or Conor Kennedy's, 18, both of whom have birthdays this week.
Mr. Culkin will eventually take his own life after he can no longer stand being mistaken for his brothers Kieran, Macauley, and Nostrodomus. Mr. Kennedy, aside from being saddled with a tragically cliched first name, must also fight the ravages of the industrial-strength STD he caught from Taylor Swift.

Cancer (June 22–July 22) Your financial prospects are so wretched you can only afford the new Vin Disel Fast & Furious grill on a time-sharing arrangement with a family that's overly fond of road-kill. Later in the month a fifteen-pound newborn canary named Junior will escape from his cage and imprint on you.

Leo (July 23–Aug. 22) Your sex life is a shareware program about to expire. One-size-fits-all gloves don't come in your size. If dreams took human form, yours would be wearing toe tags.

Virgo (Aug. 23–Sept. 22) Car A leaves Hollywood at 9:00 a.m. on Monday. Car B leaves Bangor, Maine, at the same moment. Car A, which has a 15-gallon gas tank and averages 19.6 miles per gallon, is driving east. Car B, which has a 17.5-gallon tank and averages 18.9 miles per gallon, is driving west. After three days, what color is car B?

Libra (Sept. 23–Oct.23) Like most Librans you are a sniveling complainer, unable to get your mind around the fact that we are all responsible for our own karma. Perhaps the mess that is your present life is but your last request from a previous existence. Try to discover why you were executed in that existence and what your first requests were.

Scorpio (Oct. 24–Npv. 21) According to the George Zimmerman Random Actuarial Profiler, where "10" equals "dead-bolt cinch" and "0" equals "dead in the street," your critical numbers for this week are: communicable disease, 8; grace under fire, 3; plays well with others, 1; inappropriate response 9; cannot recommend for advancement, 8.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22–Dec. 21) Sagittarians are ruled by the buttocks, the seat of all power. Their gemstone is porcelain, their favorite time of day is right after meals, and they prize regularity above all other virtues.

Capricorn (Dec. 22–Jan. 19) Capricorns suffer from automonosis—the tendency to become bored with one's own company. If you hanker to get away from yourself, here's a tip: you don't have to die in order to be reincarnated. If you don't like who you are, become somebody else. There are companies that advertise in the backs of magazines that will help you.

Aquarius (Jan. 20–Feb. 18) Your life is a run-on sentence that is out of control and greatly in need of editing. Learn to appreciate the nuances of subordinate clauses and the hierarchical conjunctions that exist among colons, semicolons, commas, and em dashes.

Pisces (Feb. 19–March 20) Ever the cynic you have no trouble believing it isn't butter; that some minds would not be a terrible thing to waste; and that maybe you don't deserve a break today. You also have a highly developed sense of irony, which leads you to walk around muttering "I see living people" in a tiny, traumatized voice.

Aries (March 21–April 19) If the enemy of your enemy is your friend, does that mean your friend's friend is your enemy? Or are you simply being paranoid? Don't make any decisions unless you begin getting calls from a foreign-sounding man who breathes heavily into the phone and identifies himself as a friend of a friend.

Taurus (April 20–May 20) Your sun is in Leo, which could mean trouble because it's supposed to be in Albuquerque. Leo's son, meanwhile, has just confessed his love for his stepmother, who is being blackmailed by a mysterious man named Kurt.Pictures at 11:00.

Gemini (May 21–June 21) After a twelve-course Chinese dinner, you switch fortune cookies with the person next to you when she isn't looking. When she opens "her" cookie, she grins happily. Several weeks later you learn that she has won several $8 million in the lottery. Meanwhile, the cookie that you opened said, "That wasn't really pork."

The Grammar Prick
Meaner than a powdery, old-hag English teacher, The Grammar Prick will split your head if you split an infinitive.
Visit The Grammar Prick
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The book that inspired a website is available from Cedar Tree Books. Written by someone who was actually raised by pugs, Postcards is a welcome addition to any nightstand.
Sample chapters . . . 1 2

The Grammar Prick Rides Hobson's Choice to Victory
Oct 4, 2011 - 12:01:00 PM
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WEST CHESTER, Penna. - While simultaneously watching The Hour on BBC America last night and reading Nina Burleigh's The Fatal Gift of Beauty: The Trials of Amanda Knox, I heard one of the characters on The Hour refer to a choice between two unpleasant alternatives as a "Hobson's choice."

"Bloody hell," I muttered. "That's not a Hobson's choice. It's a Morton's fork. You'd expect the fucking Brits to get it right. They invented the Hobson's choice."

If you are guilty of misusing "Hobson's choice" or if you think Morton's fork is something used to tune a lute, you've stumbled into the right tutorial, so listen up.

Thomas Hobson (1544-1631) was a livery stable owner in Cambridge, England. Anyone who visited his stable looking to rent a horse was given two choices: the horse nearest the stable door or no horse at all. (Keen students of language will recognize the expression "Take it or leave it, asshole" as the American equivalent of Hobson's choice.)

To sum up, then: a Hobson's choice is not a choice but an ultimatum.

I don't pretend to know how the meaning of Hobson's choice was bastardized. Perhaps it was ridden hard and put away wet. Unfortunately shit happens, and it frequently happens where language is concerned.

Now about Morton's fork: John Morton, Archbishop of Canterbury in the late fifteenth century, believed that anyone living modestly had to be saving money and thus could afford to pay more taxes, whereas people living high off the hogwash were obviously rich and could also afford to pay more taxes. The principle of Morton's fork is often misapplied today by conservative politicians in this country who cite its first provision while ignoring its second.

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Got that? Good, but we're not finished here. We also have to grapple with the meanings of dilemma, false dilemma, Catch-22, Sophie's choice, and buckdancer's choice. The following quiz will help to keep you from tripping over your tongue when using these terms.

1. A dilemma is . . . a) discernible by its vestigial horns, b) a choice between two or more options, all of which are about as attractive as pink eye, c) what you're in when you come home smelling like cheap wine and pussy, d) in the eye of the beholder.

2. A false dilemma is . . . a) one in which all the choices have herpes, b) the root of all evil, c) a situation in which only two choices are considered or presented when there are other choices available, d) believing you have only one slot left on speed dial when actually you have two.

3. Catch-22 is . . . a) a logical paradox arising from a situation in which an individual needs something that can only be acquired by not being in that very situation, b) Joseph Heller's only good novel, c) best remembered for the full frontal nudity of the movie version, d) military slang for hashish.

4. Sophie's choice is . . . a) cyanide or strychnine, b) not really a choice but a death wish, c) yet another movie for which Meryl Streep did not win an Oscar, d) a choice between two persons or things that will result in the death or destruction of the person or thing not chosen

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5. Buckdancer's choice is . . . a) played in the key of C, b) a singer's decision to ignore requests and to play what he wants to play, c) the name of Rick Perry's hunting camp, d) the fallacy of making the same choice repeatedly and expecting a different result each time.

The correct answers are: 1-B, 2-C, 3-C, 4-D, 5-A.

Well, that's all the time The Grammar Prick has today, boys and girls. He needs to go out to see if there are any rabbits in the leghold traps he put in his garden last night, but he'll be back soon with another opportunity for you to find out how wretched your "command" of English really is.

Ciao for now.

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