I am a little bit embarrassed and ashamed as an Iowan to say that I have had only an ear or two of sweet corn this summer, and that which I did have I ate in Illinois. This is fairly odd for me, because I really do like sweet corn, and really do live in America's Sweet Corn Wheelhouse. To the local corn farmers, all I can say is that I'm sorry if I've let you down. But really, I'm only one man; If you were counting on me alone to keep you afloat there on the farm, you might be setting the bar a touch high.
9/1/2010 9:59 AM
Tangentially related, I stopped by the drugstore to buy some batteries on my way to work the other day. This relates to sweet corn in the sense that there was a vegetable stand in the parking lot of this particular drug store. This stand had a sign that caught my eye. It described the corn they offered for sale as being "picked fresh 'today.'" The key to my interest is that the sign maker, for reasons beyond my comprehension, chose to put a set of quotation marks around "today." To me, this implied facetiousness, as if "today" were a euphemism for yesterday, or last week. Ha ha, suckers! Enjoy your corn that was picked fresh "today!"
It seemed time to do a little research on quotation marks. I learned a new term from fellow (far more successful) blogger Mignon Fogarty--with whom I may actually be in love now, given her grammar chops--who writes the blog Grammar Girl: "Scare quotes." These are quotes that are placed where they are in order to show that the writer does not believe the meaning of the indicated word, as in "The sign on that vegetable stand was one of the 'best' I've ever seen." This is precisely the problem we run into on that sign on the veggie stand. There is no earthly reason for the word "today" to have quotation marks around it, and yet there they were. What is a person supposed to take from that?
There is another blog that does this topic far more justice than I ever could, especially on an ongoing basis. Check out, if you like, http://www.UnnecessaryQuotes.com/. People snap pictures of signs like the one I encountered, and send them in. They're then posted and commented upon. It's not high art, but it's good for a solid laugh every now and again.
I tweet links to my blog posts on Twitter, and, uh, face(?) them on Facebook so I can get as many eyes on them as possible. My nephew Justin, who is one of the finest human beings I know--and I'm not just saying that because as his uncle with no children of my own I may be someday counting on him to change my colostomy bag--unwittingly contributed to today's topic by responding to my Tweet about my blog post about the proposed mosque near the World Trade Center site with the following: "@GregRunyon retweeted your newest blog because it was the definition of 'eloquence' in writing. Thanks for being a model American." Now, that's one of the nicest things anyone has ever said about anything I've ever written...except for the quote marks around "eloquence!" Seems like the lad may actually think my writing is not so much "eloquence" as, oh I don't know, "drivel."
Hard to argue, now that I think about it.