Friday, December 27, 2013

Retro Catastrophe

Anne spotted this gem at the St. Francis Legion in Minnesota.

Love the hairstyles!

Thanks, Anne!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Doctors, Heal Thy Punctuation

Someone needs to fix this hospital apostrophe catastrophe, stat.

Robert, who sent in this catastrophe, writes, "Hope they have a firmer grasp on other things (including their scalpels)."

Thanks, Robert!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Corny Catastrophe

This supermarket e-circular from Canada appears to be accusing its readers of being corn.

You're corn! No, you are!

Thanks to Susan for sending in this catastrophe.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Extra S Catastrophe

At first glance, this Parisian shop, captured by Simon, suffers from an apostrophe catastrophe.

However, the problem is actually the extra "s" between "boys'" and "men's." And the lack of space, so it looks like one long, bizarre word.

'90s throwback Boyz's II Men's?

Thanks, Simon!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

You Can Find the Courage to Change Careers!

As my loyal Apostrophe Catastrophes readers have surely noticed, I haven’t been updating my blog as often as I once did. For the first three or four years of my blog’s existence, I updated it nearly every day. These days, I find myself too busy to post examples of grammar atrocities. But it’s not just that I’m too busy; I’m too happy! And it’s all thanks to my new career in education.

It may seem odd for a blogger to say this, but the less time I spend online, the better I feel. In my previous career as an editor, in which I felt trapped, I was using blogging as a means of escape. This cubicle, where I spent eight hours a day for three and a half years, felt like a prison.

No matter how many pictures of sheep or Lady Gaga I put up on the gray walls, there was nothing I could do to make the office atmosphere feel more pleasant nor my mindless administrative tasks feel more meaningful. Every day that ticked by, I felt my brain beginning to atrophy. I had majored in psychology as an undergraduate and yearned to make a difference in the world. But somehow, instead, I had found myself spending my days feeling like a soulless drone. I realized that I had hit rock bottom one morning when I sat in my car for fifteen minutes in tears, unable to bring myself to enter the prison of cubicles. The absolute worst moment was when I realized that I despised my job so much that it was even ruining my weekends! On Friday afternoons, when a normal person would feel a sense of relief (“TGIF!”), I was still overwhelmed by dread because all I could think was, “Ugh. Only 48 hours until I have to come back here.”

Not to toot my own horn, but I was an excellent editor; it simply didn’t suit my gregarious personality. To quote Herman Melville, “It is a very dull, wearisome, and lethargic affair. I can readily imagine that to some sanguine temperaments it would be altogether intolerable.” During one particularly low period, I spent three straight weeks cutting and pasting text into a Word document. I wasn’t even editing for content. It was truly abysmal and utterly pointless.

I half-heartedly applied for other editorial jobs, but I realized that I didn’t just need a new job; I needed a new career. For years, I had thought about going back to school to become a guidance counselor, but being trapped in a cubicle for years had worn down my confidence. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to handle a full-time job along with classes at night and homework. Most of all, I worried about how I would pay for school. I have a mortgage, and thinking about my finances sometimes literally kept me up at night. But if you truly want something in life, you’ll find a way to make it happen. I scrimped and saved and got three or four part-time jobs and somehow made it work. I tutored for the SAT (which I still do, post-graduation and is where I recently found the aforementioned quote from “Bartleby the Scrivener”), babysat, participated in psychological experiments at Harvard, and even got paid to test out hair products! Besides, school doesn’t have to be as expensive as you think it might be. There are tons of financial aid opportunities available, and you get a tax refund for a decent portion of your tuition. I was terrified about going into debt, but now that I have graduated and have started paying back my student loans, it really isn’t that bad. My monthly loan payment is about the same as my cable bill! (Speaking of which, threaten to quit your cable company and they will lower your bill. Or better yet, actually cancel your cable. And if you live in the city, you can split your wi-fi bill with your neighbors.)

You might think you don’t have the money to pay for grad school to allow you to change careers, but try keeping track of all of your purchases for a couple of months and I guarantee you will find some superfluous expenses. That thing I said before about how the less time you spend online the happier you are? The same thing goes for malls. You won’t regret the money you invest in your educational future, but you will regret buying that designer handbag. The nicest piece of jewelry that I own was paid for with Skee-Ball tickets (R.I.P., Good Times in Somerville!), and one my few wedding-guest-worthy dresses cost $10 at Building 19 (R.I.P. again!).

As far as choosing the right school, I recommend making your decision based on the monetary value of the degree. I live in Boston where there are dozens of prestigious colleges and universities, but I chose my grad school after talking to several people who work in my chosen career. Everyone said that, in the field of education, the most important quality that employers look for is the quality of your internship/student teaching, not the name of the college on your diploma. And while I had some wonderful professors, I learned far more from shadowing school counselors and from counseling actual high school students at my internship than I did in my college classrooms. Access to hands-on experience is a key attribute to look for in a college. I loved that my college required shadowing a professional counselor right away to see what the job really entailed. What if you shelled out thousands of dollars for a graduate degree only to find you didn’t like that profession either?

The first day I set foot in a high school to begin my pre-practicum, I was terrified. What if I didn’t like it? But since I had only taken a couple of classes at that point, it wasn’t that big of a risk. And after a few minutes of observing guidance counselors in action, I felt reassured that, yes, this is what I want to do with my life. You can find the courage (and the money) to go back to school and feel the same sense of accomplishment that I now do.

So, sorry, Internet, you might have to wait for school vacation to see more Apostrophe Catastrophes. I need to help some kids plan how to study for their next science test.

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Saturday, November 30, 2013

It's the Most Catastrophic Time of the Year

If you're feeling festive, this catastrophic sweater, which Simon spotted at the Wallthamstow shopping centre and posted in the Apostrophe Catastrophes Facebook group, might bring out your inner Scrooge.

I am trying to keep calm but every single commercial on TV and radio keeps going on and on and on about Black Friday even though I thought that was supposed to be over yesterday. Do we really have to deal with the you-must-spend-all-of-your-money-on-useless-crap for another 25 days?! Bah Humbug.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Chipotle Burrito Catastrophe

The cashier at Chipotle must have been feeling romantic tonight because she thoughtfully labeled my BF's and my burritos.

But wait! "His and her's"?! Oh, the humanity!

Or perhaps the apostrophe is not misplaced, and instead, the "C" should be next to the "h" because she thought I was Cher. I can dream...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Holiday Book Recommendation

This post is not about a catastrophe at all. It is about a wonderful children's book for the holidays, Esther's Hanukkah Disaster. It has a hilarious and meaningful story with a lovely, subtle message about empathy and friendship. It has perfect punctuation (of course) and adorable illustrations. Check out Jane Sutton's website to learn more about this wonderful author, who, I must admit, is my very own mom. Forgive the digression from our regularly scheduled mocking of punctuation errors; I am very proud of her latest book.

Caramel Popcorn Catastrophe

Sherry sent in this apostrophe catastrophe that also features an odd branding choice. The personified peanut on the package implied that this product would contain nuts, but Sherry says it contains only popcorn.

The font is a bit small, but the package misuses the word "it's". It's (this time used properly) "not very good either," Sherry reports.

Thanks, Sherry!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

British Insurance Catastrophe

This insurance company clearly doesn't offer catastrophic coverage.

The owl is not looking so wise in this case.

Thanks, James, for sending this one in!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Britney's Punctuation Violation and Your New Favorite Workout Song

I heard Britney Spears' new single on the radio today while driving to the supermarket, and my first thought was, "OMG my car just transformed into a gay club. I need to download this for my running mix immediately." Seriously, download this song and it will inspire you to go for a six-mile run. At night.

While Britney's earlier lyrics promoted submission ("Hit me, baby, one more time"? "I'm a slave 4 u"? Gross.), her latest single has a message of empowerment and encourages a strong work ethic. "You want a Lamborghini / Sip martinis / Look hot in a bikini / You better work[,] bitch." That's right! You can't expect things to be handed to you in life! You have to earn them! Especially abs. Perhaps the Libertarian party will adopt this as its new theme song.

When I heard it again on the way home from the supermarket (thank you, Boston, for having five top-40 radio stations), the DJ announced that the song was called, "Work Bitch," and I immediately asked myself, "Does this ingenious and subtle song title include a comma?" Brit is not exactly known for her brains, so I figured the chances were slim that she had properly punctuated her new single, but I still held out hope that proper punctuation might rule the airwaves. So, I texted my friend Jeremy to confirm my fears. Jeremy and I once went to an all-Britney drag show in San Francisco, and he is an authority on all things pop-culture-related.

As I predicted, Jeremy officially confirmed what my heart already knew: there is no comma in Britney's opus. Britney, I beg of you, please add a comma to your new single. While this mistake may not be quite as bad as marrying K-Fed, I'd say it ranks up there with shaving your head and hitting a papparazzo's car with an umbrella.

Voila. The album cover.

Without the comma, this title says, "I'm that mean lady two cubicles down from you who is always yelling at her husband on the phone and making hostile comments during staff meetings," not what it means to say, "I command you to do work, you bitch!" Commas are important, people.

"You better work, bitch." On your punctuation. Yes, I hold it against you.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

French T-Shirt Apostrophe Catastrophe

Andrew sent in this catastrophic t-shirt from a clothing store called Kiabi in France.

While I appreciate the sentiment (boys can wear pink, or maybe a cool girl could wear this t-shirt, or gender is a social construction -- I went to Wesleyan), I am horrified by the bad punctuation.

Thanks, Andrew!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Five Catastrophes for the Price of One!

Pete in Exeter, England, sent in this multi-faceted catastrophe.

This shop sells a wide variety of products but keeps making the same punctuation error. Regardless, it looks like a fascinating place, and I kind of want to go there. Workwear and clothing to wear for a hen night? Maybe it is owned by The Village People.

Thanks, Pete!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Multiple Comma Catastrophe

This shop, near Shrewsbury, England, tried to commit apostrophe catastrophes but wound up with comma catastrophes instead.

Some people in the Apostrophe Catastrophes Facebook group are calling this one of the worst signs they have ever seen.

Thanks to Ian for sending in this instant classic!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Victoria's Secret Catastrophe

Lynette sent in this shocking apostrophe catastrophe from Victoria's Secret's website.

Victoria, here's a secret for you: adding an apostrophe does not make a word plural. And, furthermore, the plural of "body" is "bodies." With the profits you make from your $50 bras, you might want to consider hiring a proofreader.

Proper punctuation is sexy.

Thanks, Lynette!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Starbucks of Tampa

Jan found this apostrophe catastrophe at a Starbucks in the Tampa airport.

She said she wrote to Starbucks to alert them to the error -- in hopes of receiving a coupon -- but got no response. Alas...

Thanks, Jan!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Let's Learn to Punctuate

Ethan sent this large-print apostrophe catastrophe from a children's book.

I guess the editors let this error slip by. Plus, there should be a comma before the quotation.

Thanks, Ethan!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Scottish Truck Catastrophe

Ali sent in this photo of a catastrophic truck in Dundee.

BT could argue that auto's is a contraction for automobiles, but classe's is definitely a catastrophe.

Thanks, Ali!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Child's T-Shirt Catstrophe

Emily sent in this picture of a t-shirt that her friend's son was wearing.

This is wrong on so many levels.

Thanks, Emily!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

I Ate Rib's with This Dude

This deli in Kitchener, Ontario, may have the best ribs in town, but it seems to have the worst punctuation.

Thanks to Josh for sending this one in.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

All Vowels Plus an Erroneous Apostrophe

Craig spotted this major apostrophe catastrophe in a Toyota ad.

I guess they can't afford a proofreader if they are practically giving trucks away.

Thanks, Craig!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Idiot Bumper Sticker Catastrophe

Alan spotted this bumper sticker, which was obviously created by an idiot.

Regardless of your politics, you can't deny that this bumper sticker is idiotic based on its punctuation.

Thanks, Alan!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Boat Catastrophe / Triumph

As a Bostonian/Cantabrigian, I haven't felt like making light of apostrophe catastrophes in the past week. Life has been sad, scary, and surreal, among other things. But nothing seemed funny. The bombers lived only blocks from my house, and some of my friends who live in Watertown were having their houses searched by the SWAT Team. I couldn't use "catastrophe" in the same sentence as "apostrophe" anymore. But finally today, the Onion was able to find some levity in the situation, while also mocking Taylor Swift. Thank you, Onion.

And then, as fate would have it, Bradley sent me this boat-related catastrophe from the Great Salt Lake Marina.

I'd like to dedicate this apostrophe catastrophe to Dave Henneberry, who clearly has excellent attention to detail and is a very responsible boat owner. As soon as the cops lifted the ban on leaving one's house, Dave went outside and found the second bomber hiding in his boat.

Thank you, Dave, for helping Watertown breathe a collective sigh of relief, and thanks to Bradley for sending in this maritime apostrophe catastrophe that reminded me of Dave and helped me regain a sense of normalcy.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Misogynistic Apostrophe Catastrophe

My friend Kate alerted me to this news story about a state representative from New Hampshire who made an offensive comment about women. The worst part about this incident is that Peter Hansen refers to all women as "vagina's," making his statement even more catastrophic. Clearly Hansen knows nothing about women, or punctuation.

Thanks, Kate!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Girl Is a Catastrophe

I love when readers send me apostrophe catastrophes committed by companies that I already look down upon, such as Walmart, but it saddens me when I receive catastrophes from stores that I like. So, I shared in Shawn's disappointment upon finding this one at Kohl's.

Shawn writes, "I put everything back and left, I was so disappointed." That's dedication, Shawn. If I had one of those 30%-off coupons, I think I would turn a blind eye to the apostrophe catastrophe. But you better shape up, Kohl's, or I'll just buy everything from Target and Old Navy.

Thanks, Shawn!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Let's Get Some (Catastrophic) Shoes

Robert sent in this giant apostrophe catastrophe from a shoe advertisement.

I like the sentiment, but that apostrophe placement is as wrong as wearing white shoes after Labor Day. Remember, it's means "it is."

Thanks, Robert!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Gas Station Catastrophe

This gas station may be a "full service propane dealer," but it certainly does not serve up proper punctuation.

Thanks to Dan for sending in this catastrophe!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

You Are Holiday

Adam spotted this giant apostrophe catastrophe in the center of Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear.

He says that this company also has a horrible radio jingle and is "big enough to know better."

Thanks, Adam!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sordid Teas

Jerome writes that this sign should say "sordid teas" because of the errant apostrophe.

I'm not sure about the tea, but the punctuation is certainly not fine.

Thanks, Jerome!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cheap Sofa Is on TV

Cathy writes that she was watching TV while her husband was still asleep and this catastrophic commercial came on Fox 5.

She ran the risk of waking her husband up, but it was worth it to capture the apostrophe catastrophe in all its glory. The exclamation point is in an odd place, too.

Thanks, Cathy!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Canopy Catastrophe

Scott sent in this apostrophe catastrophe from a county fair in Columbia County, New York.

The smaller sign on the left spells the plural of canopy correctly, so maybe the larger sign is saying that one canopy is for sale? Doubtful, but I'm ever the optimist.

Thanks, Scott!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Oi! Scottish Catastrophe!

Alan posted this catastrophe from a shop in the Edinburgh airport.

In this case, its is a pronoun and shouldn't have an apostrophe. Perhaps a bleary-eyed traveler made this sign.

Thanks, Alan!

Monday, January 28, 2013

I Wear My Sunglasses for Free

Being a famous blogger has its perks. Sometimes* companies give me free products in exchange for wearing and advertising them.
*OK, this happened once, but it was cool...

The company that made me feel like a celebrity was Firmoo , which sells affordable prescription glasses and sunglasses. If you go to an optician, you might pay upwards of $300 for new frames, but you can get them for about a tenth of that price through Firmoo. They are even doing a promotion right now for free glasses for first-time buyers. You don't even have to be an internet celebrity like me. An obvious drawback to this is that you can't try on the glasses or have a professional adjust them, but I think this service would work well for a backup pair or for sunglasses, which don't have to fit as well as regular glasses.

I don't wear glasses, so for my free pair, I went with a pair of sunglasses with plain lenses. When they arrived, I was pleased that they came with a durable-looking case, a cleaning cloth, and a little carrying bag. These glasses are clearly higher quality than any other glasses I've ever owned because I never pay more than like $9.99 for sunglasses at Target or CVS. Seriously, I cannot think of more of a waste of money than designer sunglasses. I'm just going to lose them in the ocean eventually anyway!

So, here's what the Firmoo package comes with:

I like the purple color of the frames, but I wish the lenses were darker. You can clearly see my eyes through the glasses, which I don't like. Maybe this works for Bono but not on the beach.

Anyway, this might work fine on an overcast day, but in the bright sun, I'll need more shade.

Thanks, Firmoo for sending me the free glasses, and I apologize for waiting several months to post this. Obviously, it was the summer when I received these glasses. I miss the sun...

Friday, January 25, 2013

Sick Kicks Punctuation for the Ladies

Derrick sent me this apostrophe catastrophe from

Cute shoes (OMG. Shoes.) but bad punctuation. Mens is not a word.

Thanks, Derrick!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Vermont County Fair Catastrophe

My friend Jodi's brother sent in this catastrophe from a county fair in Vermont.

Frightening. I was helping a kid with her Health homework today and had to explain what LSD is. I should have used this picture.

Thanks, Jodi's brother! [And thanks to Jodi for pointing out my typo in this post earlier. Oops]

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Criminal Catastrophe

Jefferson sent in this catastrophe from the Montgomery (MD) County courthouse.

Objection! Jefferson says that the construction at the courthouse has made a mess of the parking situation, and the courthouse's signage!

Thanks, Jefferson!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Two Cousin Is

Happy New Year, everyone! I apologize that I have fallen woefully behind on posting your submissions. Luckily, Joe recently emailed me to remind me to post this photo from Cleveland, which gave me the motivation that I had been lacking lately.

As Sweet Brown would say, "Bad punctuation? Ain't nobody got time for that!" I resolve to get back on track. Keep those submissions coming!

Thanks, Joe!