The Boston Globe’s feature on me has been posted! Sunday, Jul 15 2007 

The story is FANTASTIC, and the writer, Danielle Dreilinger, did such a great job.

Here is the story, taken directly from boston.com:

Stop sign travesties!
Self-proclaimed “grammar vandal” goes after public mistakes that grate
By Danielle Dreilinger, Globe Correspondent July 15, 2007

The ads said “run easy,” but they made Kate McCulley’s teeth clench.

The 22-year-old grammarian stared at Reebok’s Marathon-themed posters on her commute from Somerville to Fort Point this spring, on her way to her job as a research assistant at a concierge services company. “RUN EASY BOSTON,” the ads announced, inviting locals to . . . do what?

The question began to haunt her.

“Should I run an easy Boston? Should I run, and is Boston a promiscuous city?” she riffed on her travel blog, katesadventures.com. Her conclusion: “Without punctuation, we have nothing.”
It didn’t help her mood that she was reading “Eats, Shoots & Leaves,” the best-selling book about grammar that tickles readers with its gentle wit but hits hard about the sorry state of language usage. Her copy included a packet of punctuation stickers as a do-it-yourself correction kit.

The Reebok sign should have read “run easily,” McCulley observed, and it should have had a comma after “easily,” before “Boston.”

(Grammar note: “Easy” is an adjective, which must never be used to describe a verb, such as “run”; that task calls for the adverb “easily.” A sentence addressing someone directly, such as “Run easily,” must separate that address from the party being addressed — in this case, Boston — with a comma.)

On May 29, a memorable date for its linguistic personal import, McCulley cracked. The mild-mannered blogger ducked inside (well, next to) a bus shelter on Summer Street by South Station, pulled out her handy sheet of comma stickers, and made one small correction:
“RUN EASY, BOSTON.”

She had become the Grammar Vandal.

McCulley’s credentials? She’s an aspiring writer who majored in English in college and grew up loving to read and spell. Her reference book? “Most of what I go by is instinct,” she said, though she holds the “Associated Press Stylebook” close to her heart.

In the week after McCulley’s small act of rebellion, Buzzfeed.com, a blog that tracks hot Web topics, chose her as a top “grammar Nazi” blogger. People reposted the item on the popular Newsvine blog.

McCulley realized some people did care about language — enough for her to start a new blog, www.thegrammarvandal.com.

The Reebok ad has since disappeared, but the comma remains on the bus shelter, a vestige of the beginnings of McCulley’s crusade around Boston for truth, usage, and the grammatical way.
McCulley has always noticed grammar errors, she said. The only difference is that now when she sees one, “I take a picture and post it on my blog,” she said.

It’s a question of standards. “It’s as if we’ve resigned ourselves” to errors, she said. “Are we giving up everything to LOL and BRB?” (That’s “laugh out loud” and “be right back,” for those who are completely out of it.) She does use “LOL” in text messages but takes the extra time to tap correct grammar into that tiny keypad. “Twice as long, twice as right!” she chirps.

McCulley seems completely unfazed by the responsibility she’s taken upon herself. She’ll debate finer points: Should Boston RealtyNet hyphenate “full service”? And she admits even she can’t be perfect. Several responses to her original vandalism blog post ing criticized its grammar. She considered the points “debatable.”

Nothing is immune to the Grammar Vandal’s keen eye, not even the blue T-shirt she wore on a recent walk to point out grammar errors along Newbury Street. McCulley couldn’t possibly walk around wearing a shirt saying “Without Me Its Just Aweso.” So she took a Sharpie to the shirt, adding a comma after “me” and an apostrophe to “it’s.”

“Of course , I’m obsessive,” she said.

On her walk around Back Bay, the grammar vigilante’s judgments were sure and steady. Though Newbury Street is considered among the classiest of thoroughfares in an educated city, its signs are riddled with errors.

Newbury Visions riled McCulley with its sign for “eye exams contact lenses.” As with the Reebok ad, the she felt the sign cried out for separation between its elements.

Another peeve surfaced several blocks down, at the Boloco restaurant. ” ‘Everyday’ can be one word, but only as an adjective meaning ‘usual’ or ‘typical,’ ” McCulley explained, not “each day.” Boloco’s sign almost certainly didn’t mean to say its “breakfast burritos” are ordinary, but that they are on the menu daily.

Still, why worry when people probably understand from the sign that they can get a daily fix of tasty burritos at Boloco, or recognize the phrases “eye exams” and “contact lenses?”

McCulley bristled at the question. “Getting the idea across is the very basic, the minimum,” she said.

Continuing down Newbury, McCulley pointed out a discrepancy between “Alexanders” and “Alexander’s” on a beauty parlor (the possessive apostrophe is needed, unless the shop is for more than one Alexander). Questioned later, store manager Lourdes Lopez said the proper spelling of the salon is actually “Alexander’s,” after the original owner.

McCulley judged Avante Gard Medical Spa’s name plain “wrong.” (Should be “Avant-Garde.”) She allowed the period at the end of “Betsey Johnson.” to stand, though, citing “artistic license.”
A very few stores earned gold stars. BeBe Nail & Skin Salon hyphenated “walk-ins.” Co So Artists’ Gallery formed the plural possessive correctly. “That is all too rare these days,” McCulley said. “It’s perfect!”

What really got McCulley’s goat wasn’t an error here or there by a single person but mistakes made by businesses. Shouldn’t they have editors to check ads and signs? She paused in front of the Madura linens store at the corner of Dartmouth and Newbury streets and pointed out a shiny, printed sign advertising a sale “On marked items only, while supplies last curent prices.” (Proper spelling: current; comma needed after “last.”)

Store manager Victoria Whitney sighed when asked about the sign. Madura is a French company, she said, and the sign was custom-made in France. By the time it arrived here, it was too late to fix the error.

The worst offender in all of Boston, according to the Vandal: Lush, a purveyor of earthy-yet-expensive soaps and cosmetics. McCulley directed a reporter to peek through the window at a blackboard inside. It read:

‘HAVE FUN THIS IS AN ADULT CANDY STORE.’

McCulley could hardly contain her disdain. “Have fun, exclamation point; this is an adult candy store, period,” she said.

All along the walk, the Vandal watched for opportunities to use her trusty comma stickers (which conveniently double as apostrophes). She couldn’t reach the Alexanders sign unless she hung off a stairway. The Madura sign was behind glass. McCulley knelt and drew a connecting bracket on a CVS placard announcing openings for “over night” staff, making it into a single word.

Finally she zeroed in the European Watch Co. The sign was accessible. The store was closed. And the sign read “New Pre-Owned Vintage.” It was her pet bugaboo: the missing comma.
McCulley climbed up on the stone ledge and quietly adjusted the phrase as oblivious shoppers walked by. She stood back and admired the sign, which now said “New, Pre-Owned, Vintage.”

“There you go,” she said. “That is beautiful.”

That beauty might be fleeting. When alerted to the fix, manager Albert Ganjei noticed the black stickers didn’t match the white text. He might order some white commas, he said.
But the life of a Grammar Vandal can be lonely. Some friends “have stopped sending me e-mails for fear I will correct them,” she said. One acquaintance followed an e-mail to her calling Mitt Romney’s sons “hott” with a second message explaining she was purposely adding the second “t” to emphasize the hotness of the young men. The postscript made McCulley feel “like a monster!” she said.

Hence the blog, where she hopes to find like-minded souls.

If one passer by learns how to use a comma from her edits, McCulley said, “then I think my job is” — she paused and corrected herself — “well, not done.”

PHOTO GALLERY: The ‘grammar vandal’

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The Grammar Fallout Sunday, Jun 3 2007 

Wow. I got a huge response from the entry below, written about my personal quest to eradicate grammar errors in the city of Boston, one incorrect advertisement at a time. It was a bigger response than I expected.

Some liked it; some pointed out other errors I had made within the message, or simply said that it was “bad.”

But at any rate, here are some of the responses:

“Grammar Nazis” on BuzzfeedBuzzfeed is a site that picks a commonly blogged-about term, like “Fake Hogzilla,” “Japanese Beer for Kids” or “Celebrity Baby Weight.” My friend Andy submitted my entry to Buzzfeed, and guess what? It’s #1 in the list of eight blog entries! (For the record, it keeps switching back and forth between #1 and #2, but it’s still pretty exciting.) Because of that, my blog traffic shot way up.

“Grammar Nazis” on Thought Press — My friend Andy wrote his own commentary on my entry. Check out the rest of his blog, too, which focuses on news, trends and technology.

“Calling All Grammar Nazis!” on Bootsnall — I spend a lot of time on Bootsnall, which is an excellent online travel community. I find it to be great place for all kinds of discussions, including non-travel discussions, because I’ve found the people on Bootsnall to be very intelligent, educated, wordly and open-minded. This isn’t exclusive to all travel communities — on Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree, for example, there are far more casual travelers, while Bootsnall is strictly for serious travelers.

Anyways, I posted my blog entry and got plenty of responses. Check it out.

I’ve also received a lot of comments via facebook, where I import my blog, and Lisa has taken to calling me the “Grammar Vandal.”

I don’t mind that title one bit!

This Grammar Nazi TOOK IT TO THE STREETS! Wednesday, May 30 2007 

As most of you know, I have zero tolerance for incorrect grammar. For the first time, I did something about it.

My biggest pet peeve regarding grammar is not when someone misuses “your” and “you’re,” or “there,” “their” and “they’re.” It’s when any kind of professional writing, from advertisements to stories in newspapers and online columns, is fraught with grammatical errors. Aren’t there editors that notice these mistakes?!

At first, Reebok’s “Run Easy” campaign hadn’t been bothering me. In fact, I kind of liked it — if you take the red line inbound between Harvard and Central and face west, you see an ad perfectly timed with the speed of the subway car. However, when walking back from work, I came upon an ad egregiously reading, “RUN EASY BOSTON.”

Run easy Boston? Should I run an easy Boston? Should I run, and is Boston a promiscuous city?

Without punctuation, we have nothing.

I’ve just started reading Eats, Shoots & Leaves, which is long overdue — everyone’s been telling me to read it for quite some time. I generally shy away from what the general populace is reading, but it was on the 3 for 2 rack at Borders, so I picked it up.

And you know what was inside? Several commas and period stickers to acknowledge and ameliorate, albeit crudely, public grammatical errors.

Right then and there, I knew where I was putting my first comma sticker.

The sign is on Summer Street, the southern side, right by Fidelity. If you’re walking towards South Station and Fidelity is coming up on your left, this is the first sign you see after crossing the channel and Dorchester Ave.

I furtively pulled out my stickers, took a bit longer than socially acceptable to pull the sticker off the sheet, and I stuck it right on there.

Check it out:

And a close-up:
I am so, so proud of this.

I can only hope that this helps teach a few curious people on the waterfront about comma usage.

On Being Content Sunday, Nov 12 2006 

I think it’s safe to say now that things are going even BETTER at work! It’s just really great on so many levels….

I’ve been thinking more about the hours. I was really skeptical about working so late, especially the whole walking-alone-at-night part, but I’m feeling much better about it. I had a thought. Everything happens for a reason, some for more obvious reasons than others. I think that this schedule is a gift — now I’m going to be able to write! I’ve been feeling the inspiration in me lately, and I have a lengthy project that I’d like to start working on. By not working until 2:00, I can easily write an hour in the morning, every morning. I could work out, too, or write even longer.

I don’t think I want to say much about what I’ll be writing….it IS a memoir, and a lot of the inspiration comes from what I’ve been reading lately (which is pretty much all memoirs. I’ve been reading tons.). I will say that most if not all names and possibly some identifying details will be changed.

Lisa was telling me last night that she’s taking a class on memoirs at UNH, and she finds that it’s disappointing if there isn’t a kind of transformation in it. I’ll have to figure out how to put that in. I trust Lisa’s opinion, not just because she’s so smart and a graduate student in composition, but also because we love a lot of the same books.

I’ll have to come up with an angle. That’s a tough part, too. My problem is that I don’t think I’m a very likable person, so I’ll have to work extremely hard to get that to show in the writing. I can’t make myself seem like too much of a victim, either. But at least I know how to be honest, even when it’s painful and/or embarrassing.

I went out to dinner in the North End (at Caffe Pompeii, where we went after our senior prom!) with Lisa and a few of her friends from Holy Cross, including Emily, whom I had spent time with before, and Carissa, who applied for a job at my workplace a while back. It was a lot of fun, and I’m glad that I know more people around Boston.

After that, we walked around and the other girls left, so Lisa and I went to Hong Kong (of COURSE!). Karaoke was particularly awesome — they were singing all the good songs like Don’t Stop Believing, Hey Jude, Sweet Caroline, Walk This Way, and all that good stuff. It also SO wasn’t the opposite of a sausage fest!! The odds were very much in our favor. We met some funny guys, and then a very drunk guy who came over to ask me to marry him, and a guy who looked like Lisa’s dad but definitely didn’t act like him!

Later on we went upstairs to dance and after a while, we saw some people we knew from Reading High! They were from the class lower than us. We saw “Nick not Vissochi” from Drama Club, and it took us a few minutes to remember that his last name was Carlson, and a bunch of other people. It wasn’t like the usual awkward run-in on Election Day or whatnot.

Oh, about the election — I voted, and EVERYONE I voted for was elected. I am THRILLED that the Democrats took over BOTH the House and the Senate — I was expecting them to get the House, but thought they’d just miss the Senate — and that Rumsfeld’s out. He should have been out years ago. I love that Bush totally should have kicked him out BEFORE the election if he wanted voters to take him seriously! Really, Wednesday was the best day ever, between the election aftermath and BRITNEY LEAVING K-FED!!

Also….I am so content right now. I’m always striving for something in life, but now — I think because things are so great at work — I’m just happy. I’m smiling. I’m loving being single and not having to worry about a guy. I get so excited when planning my trip around the world, and I’m fine that it won’t be for a few years….at least right now!!

In short, life is good — really good — and I’m just….CONTENT! I’m not often like that. I’m always at one emotional extreme. But it’s all really good right now.

The Aftermath Thursday, Oct 19 2006 

People say that it takes time to adjust to a haircut. So should it be a surprise that I know exactly how many milimeters (1.6) it’s grown since I chopped it off?

Seriously. This is the biggest mistake of my life.

At least I can still pull it into a French twist, albeit with a LOT of bobby pins.

By Christmas, it’ll be shoulder-length, and I guess that will be somewhat normal. But I can’t wait until it hangs all the way down my back again, long and curly. I had it SO GOOD! I never knew it!!

At work, I got the nicest thank you from the guy whose proposal I planned. His girlfriend said yes! 🙂 I’m thrilled. He told me he’s going to call me this week so that his girlfriend can tell me, too! Can you believe that?! I’m thrilled for them.

How ironic is that, me planning a marriage proposal?! Hahaha. It was fun, though. As long as it wasn’t for myself. SINGLE AND FABULOUS, BABY!

I have a ton of pics to post about last Friday night with Lisa and Erica and our shirts that we had guys write on — I’m still amused that my coworker Luca had to draw a nipple on me, using the hot pink marker, of course. LOL.

It’s so nice to write — with the commute and everything, I always feel completely drained, like I don’t have time for anything. But as I’ve said before, I couldn’t work anywhere else than Boston. And I’ll live there in a few months. (Might as well save the money now, though! My savings account runneth over!)

And, of course, now I can’t think of anything to write about.

It’s always like that, isn’t it?

Goodbye former life Sunday, Mar 26 2006 

Well, it’s official — diary-x is officially DESTROYED completely, and the MORON who owned it didn’t even have the sense to back anything up.

So even though there was a chance of stuff being recovered, it’s gone now. I wrote dozens and dozens of entries since fall semester freshman year. I was going to print it all off and put it into a book.

I guess it’s better that it’s gone because it will keep me focusing on the present and future, rather than delving into my past. At least I have my perfect handwritten diary from when I was in Florence.

Still, though….fuck you, guy.

Letter to the Mirror Thursday, Mar 23 2006 

When I sent in The Mirror my press release about Gleetalia, the Mirror changed a key sentence, saying that we performed only twice when we, in fact, performed four times.

So, naturally, I wrote a letter to the editor. I wanted more than just an error correction — I wanted the whole school to read it.

Here it is, with the comments they added:

To the Editor:

As the publicity coordinator of the Fairfield University Glee Club, I’ve appreciated the relationship between our two organizations, with The Mirror running our press releases before concerts and (mostly) favorable reviews afterward.

However, a significant error was printed in last week’s issue in the press release about the Glee Club’s concert tour to Italy. The original sentence I submitted read, “The weeklong trip includes two concerts, a Mass, and an impromptu sing in world-famous cathedrals in Rome, Assisi and Florence.” It was changed to, “The weeklong trip includes two concerts: one Mass and, the other, impromptu sing in world-famous cathedrals in Rome, Assisi and Florence.” There were four performances altogether: one Mass in Rome, one concert in Rome, one impromptu sing in Assisi, and one concert in Florence. How is it possible to perform two concerts in three different cities?

I could be writing this letter as simply an error notification, but I believe that it’s important to clarify to the community that we had four performances, not two. Only performing twice implies that the University supported us having a nearly obligation-free week in Italy, only surfacing twice for quickie concerts. That couldn’t be further from the truth. If that were the essence of our tour, do you think we’d be traveling with our parents, Fairfield faculty and staff, and Father von Arx himself? We worked hard to get to Italy, and we worked very hard while we were there. Nothing should suggest otherwise.

Furthermore, the editors at The Mirror need to prioritize their copy editing. Why change something that’s already correct to a false statement? Why didn’t the editor bother to double-check with me before printing an incongruent sentence? Why spend all your time changing a perfect release when the word “Ignatian” is routinely printed as “Ignation” and the word “sophmore” appears in a front page headline?

It’s something to think about.

Sincerely,
Kate ’06
Glee Club Publicity Coordinator

Editor in Chief’s note: The Mirror strives for accuracy in all of it’s reporting. While errors are made, in recent years, the quality of our copy editing has increased dramatically. Contractually, we our obligated to have two editors read everything we run in the newspaper. However, under our current copy editing system, four people traditionally read each story: the copy editor, the section editor, a managing editor, and me.

Additionally, The Mirror recently began conducting accuracy surveys by contacting a random sampling of interviewees to make sure that their quotes, the headline, and the story were accurate. While still in the preliminary stages, results have been largely positive.

Still, when mistakes are made, we encourage our readers to contact us with any corrections or clarifications to stories by emailing themirror@stagweb.fairfield.edu or by contacting me, Tara Lynch, at x 6529. Requests for corrections and clarifications are reviewed by me on a case by case basis, and are granted if and when a mistake is confirmed. Corrections, retractions and clarifications are run as needed below the staff box on page 4.

And, along with that, something was written by the Managing Editor under the headline “Managing Ed. Puts Things in Perspective”:

Alright already! We get the idea.

Kate brought up a lot of great points about some shortcomings of our coverage in the March 2 issue of The Mirror. For the record, ladies and gentlemen, a “sophomore” won the FUSA presidency, and not a “sophmore”, as was reported on the cover of that issue.

Believe me when I say there is nothing more embarrassing for an editor than such a glaring spelling error on a spot as prominent as the front page, above the fold, on one of the biggest stories of the year. I think I can speak for everyone involved in headline composition when I say that we were collectively mortified to learn of the error the following day.

At the same time, it’s important to remember that the newspaper industry has a long and storied legacy when it comes to errors. As is often said, the newspaper is but the first draft of history, not the final copy.

So, as a much needed catharsis for everyone in our fishbowl of an office on the lower level of the BCC, I thought I’d point out a couple of instances where newspapers have gotten it wrong in a much bigger way.

“DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN”

Easily one of the most famous inaccurate statements made in the history of American journalism, this November 3, 1948 headline (the day after election day) from the Chicago Daily Tribune was preserved for generations of critics in a black and white picture. As the newly-minted winner of the election, Harry Truman, started his victory lap around the country on board his campaign train, he held up a copy of this prematurely published issue of the Tribune before a gaggle of photographers. When asked for comment on the photo op, he told reporters “This one’s for the books.”

While Truman’s knack for the ironic is amusing, sometimes an error in reporting or a mistake made under the crunch of a deadline can affect readers in a very negative way.

“Alive! Miners beat odds”

This past January, USA Today was not alone when they reported inaccurately that people trapped in a collapsed mine in West Virginia had somehow miraculously survived. After mine company officials announced that everyone in the mine of had perished, they grimly recanted their earlier statements to the press, citing a “miscommunication” with rescue workers.

In the end, as USA Today and many other papers got it wrong about the miners, it becomes clear that the inalienable deadline the press operates on is both a blessing and a curse. A deadline is a blessing because it ensures regular publication of the news. It’s a curse because organizations sometimes have to publish before all the facts have unfolded (or, in the Mirror’s case, before editors realize that a word in a headline is misspelled).

All we can do to rectify this is make sure we fix the error before the next edition. Check out our corrections this week on page 4.

I’m not going to say anything about these yet — only that this is undeniable proof that the people who are allowing the English language to be destroyed clearly have no qualms about doing so.