From Captain Erudite (1996)Cover   |   1

Dare To Be Littrate

Santa Claus is Ming!
It’s Fall in Oregon. The sun is shining and the trees are displaying their plumage. Bill Hatcher slides behind the wheel of his late-model Volvo and starts the engine. His mind is on golf, he is reliving that 20-foot putt with a vicious break to the left. Dairy Queen Pumkin!He pulls out of the driveway, barely glancing to the right, and heads down he road. He had read the green almost perfectly-almost, but the ball rimmed the cup and scooted 2 feet beyond. Perhaps just a bit too much power in the stroke, but that break to the left-man, he had read it perfectly…. A sign appears in a field on the right: “Hes coming.” No apostrophe-why isn’t there an apostrophe? Blood begins to rise up his neck, obliterating all thoughts of putting. A phone booth appearing ahead just off the highway invites the Volvo to come to a screeching halt. Hatcher races to the booth, where a flurry of activity ensues until finally, out of the chamber emerges that champion of cogitation, that animal of enlightenment, that leader of the literate: it’s CAPTAIN ERUDITE! With pen in hand and a look of terror in his eyes, this pillar of pansophy is ready for action. To the uninitiated, it would appear that Captain Erudite is about to add an apostrophe to the offending sign. But, no, he is doing one better than that. He is dashing off a letter to that beacon of journalistic excellence: I am speaking, of course, of the Newberg Graphic.

Ten Till Six!His task is a daunting one, but Captain Erudite does not shirk from this duty. In any given week, the alert reader of the Graphic may well be treated to the latest blight on our verbal landscape. In a county replete with fundamentalist Christians, it is amazing how many Philistines still survive here. For those people driving out to tour the Oregon wine country, looking for misspelled signs has become the latest spectator sport. Look for them in the normal locations: certainly in front of restaurants and gas stations, in fields and along forested roads, but do not neglect to peruse signs in front of libraries and schools where the gaffs are often a bit subtler but surely more astounding given their location. Happy Hollidays from Storage Place!Here in the age of the Internet, the Pentium chip and Call Waiting, it is difficult not to be appalled. But we have hit upon an alternative response, which is to treat the blunders as a source of entertainment. While we do not argue that nausea is an appropriate reaction in many instances, we do not recommend it while driving. In either case, the next time that you find yourself “on the Wine Trail”, stay alert for errant signboards, stop in Newberg for an expresso and, by all means, keep your eyes open for Captain Erudite perusing the countryside for grammarian pho paws.
ENforcemeNt Levy!

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