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Punctuation Adventures

Punctuation Adventures is a series of short stories I wrote in spring of 2011 about punctuation superheroes.

ProloguePunctuation Adventures symbol

When I was a high school freshman, my English teacher spent a good chunk of time instructing my class on the rules of grammar. Most people find punctuation to be boring, and I can understand that. I, however, took a great liking to grammar and decided I would do what I could to spread the wealth.

Since then, I have been a copy editor on my high school’s newspaper staff, a grammar tutor, and a writer of my very own grammar guide, which contains rules for grammar, as well as my own spin. Throughout this, I have found that punctuation is my favorite aspect of grammar, and that is why I decided to write this book.

Punctuation can alter the entire meaning of a sentence. Too much can make a person stop reading because of confusion. Too little can cause all the ideas to run together. Each punctuation mark exists for a reason; each one is a superhero in its own right.

Punctuation saves a sentence and its meaning. Without punctuation, books would have different messages. The Constitution would have a different interpretation. Foods would have different descriptions on menus. The list goes on.

Hopefully, this book will be able to teach about the rules of punctuation in an intriguing way. Either way, I have enjoyed writing this book and exploring the reaches of punctuation. Thank you to every individual who tries to pass grammar rules on to future generations. In addition, to all the copy editors out there, keep doing everything you are doing. Your work matters, and you are needed. Never forget that, and never let anyone tell you otherwise.

The Adventures of Protégé Period

The year is 2800, and people need some punctuation advice. They are having a lot of trouble with the simplest of all grammar knowledge: the use of the period. Now, it’s no one’s fault, really. I mean, students thought learning grammar was dry and boring, and teachers found other knowledge and lessons that kept their classes intrigued. Plus, actors, actresses, directors, and producers do not always finish school all the way through, so they lack in the grammar area.

On the set of the sitcom Roommates, one veteran actress has had enough with things on set. Every day, Lee Sawyer receives a new script. Granted, she has to talk quickly on her show – that’s part of the sitcom’s appeal – but at this point, writers are not putting any punctuation in her lines! These run-on sentences go on for miles, and she – and her lungs – cannot take it anymore.

Lee Sawyer decided to talk to the writers about this nonsense. However, they informed her that it was actually the director’s decision to refrain from using periods, for that would force the actors to say their liens – all of their lines – in the short time allotted. Lee Sawyer could not – and would not – put up with this. She went to see the director: Chuck Lawrence.

“Lawrence!” We need to talk,” Lee Sawyer yelled across the set, scripts in hand.

“Okay, my protégé, what?” Chuck Lawrence replied.

“Well. Let me introduce you to a little thing I like to call Protégé Period!” she responded.

“Uh…”

“Punctuation,” Lee Sawyer continued, “is a beautiful thing. Periods will make our shows more coherent because the audience will be able to clearly understand what we are saying. This script is magnificent, truly. Yet, without periods, all the wonderfully articulate thoughts run together. In Britain, the period is also known as the full stop. I know we have a time limit and everything, but we need to fully stop at the end of sentences. This will allow the ideas to sink in and make our show better overall. That Emmy that has been snatched from us every season? Add periods to the script, and I’m sure we’ll get the gold.”

“Why do you care, Lee Sawyer?” Chuck Lawrence asked.

“Read this. It’s called Allison’s Grammar Guide, and it explains the significance of punctuation,” Lee Sawyer said. “We are supposed to be proud of our work. The Protégé Period will get us to that point.”

So, Chuck Lawrence consented, and the writers were allowed to equip scripts with Protégé Periods where necessary and proper. Roommates went on to win the Emmy award for Best Comedy Series, and everyone involved became happier.

Protégé Period: improving lives one piece of art at a time.

The Adventures of Ecstatic Exclamation Point

The year is 2800, and people’s lives are mundane and monotonous. Adults go to work; children go to school. People eat, sleep, and work. They are so overwhelmingly stressed out and bored that they do not have the time for entertainment or even sarcasm. Days are dreary, but long ago – almost 800 years ago – they were not, and people back in the day knew how to have fun.

Once upon a time, electronics ruled the world. These little gadgets, while still in existence, were prominent and provided people with an outlet. They brought us communication, movies, music, television, games, and the Internet. They gave us places to go for pure enjoyment and relaxation and people to talk to and virtually see.

When people had positive news to share, they were happy and excited. The enthusiasm they felt when something good happened shined from every pore and enveloped them.

Somewhere along the line, everything changed. The workload became too much, and the technology became repetitive and outdated. People walked into stores and businesses with frowns and bags under their eyes. But, one person – a cashier at the local grocery store in Bismarck, North Dakota – decided enough was enough.

This cashier was Elizabeth Ellsworth, and she had an infatuation with the 21st century world. She found a copy of Allison’s Grammar Guide at the Bismarck Public Library, and she fell in love with punctuation. She was particularly interested in the section on the exclamation point. See, in 2800, no one used exclamation points anymore; people just included periods and question marks in their writing. Ellsworth decided to do something about that, and thus, Ecstatic Exclamation Point was born.

One grim December morning, Ecstatic Exclamation Point took over the intercom at Bismarck Foods and Supplies.

“Attention shoppers; this is an intervention,” she said. “I am Ecstatic Exclamation Point, and I have come to make the lives of the citizens of the world better. I am sure many of you are rolling your eyes, but listen up. Life today is sad and lame for the most part, and that needs to change because we only have one short life. The exclamation point is an enthusiastic piece of punctuation history, and we need to bring it back. We need to express happiness and have fun every single day. Enough is enough; it is time to take a stand.”

Everyone in the store knew she was right. She told them all to go out and buy Allison’s Grammar Guide and to re-introduce the spice to all of their lives. Walking through life in a daze had come to an end; a new wave of excitement swept the nation and, eventually, the world.

Ecstatic Exclamation Pint: improving lives one bored-out-of-their-mind shopper at a time.

The Adventures of Mr. Inquisitive

The year is 2800, and people seem to know next to nothing about the world. They have their lives, and they get caught up in themselves so much that they do not even try to find out what is going on in society. The world is full of statements, and that is absolutely all.

The children in Mr. Miller’s kindergarten class love to learn. As soon as Mr. Miller takes out the overhead, turns on the television, starts his computer, or hands out textbooks, all of his students have the brightest smiles on their faces and genuine joy in their eyes. The only issue Mr. Miller has with his kindergarten class is that he feels like he is lecturing instead of leading a discussion or activity. Lecturing to a bunch of five-year-olds is not the job description he had in mind when he chose this career path.

When Mr. Miller was in school, he loved asking questions because every question would spark a conversation that led to new, exciting knowledge. Throughout his education, his life goal was to spark that same sense of curiosity he had had since he was very young. Somewhere along the line, children had lost the inquisitiveness that made them children, and finding answers to questions meant nothing because they had no questions. Mr. Miller was very distraught by this, so he decided to introduce the children to his good friend the question mark.

In November, Mr. Miller put on a question mark costume and walked into class. He hoped this would connect with the students. They ran up to him and seemed thrilled.

“Hi, boys and girls, I am Mr. Inquisitive, your substitute teacher for the day,” Mr. Inquisitive said. “Today’s lesson is about question marks! Does anyone know what a question is?”

“When you ask Mommy what’s for dinner?” a young, precious girl replied.

“Well, yes! Very good, Molly. A question is when you ask anyone anything,” Mr. Inquisitive said. “Questions are really good; there is no such thing as a bad question. Whenever you don’t know something or are interested in a topic, ask about it. I understand that you have already learned about periods and exclamation points. Now, it’s time to find out about question marks!”

The children oohed and ahhed, and Mr. Inquisitive began his lesson, telling all the students about the wonders of question asking and all the ways to start specific types of questions, like beginning with who, what, where, when, why, and how and ending with a question mark. They took part in an activity in which Mr. Inquisitive took out an object from his bag of goodies, and the students formed questions about it – always, of course, including a question mark at the end.

As the day concluded, Mr. Inquisitive was very happy about the result of the day’s lesson. He vowed to market his idea so children everywhere would be taught to always be curious.

Mr. Inquisitive: improving lives one question at a time.

The Adventures of Super Comma

The year is 2800, and students are as lazy as ever when it comes to proper grammar. Technology, the Internet, and smart phones have led to even less knowledge of grammar. Teachers have ceased trying to teach grammar after middle school because students fall asleep in class or draw random punctuation all over desks. Luckily, one man’s astonishment at this has caused him to take matters into his own hands to correct this error. His name? Super Comma.

Undercover, Super Comma is known to all as the detective Graham Lakeslide. Daily, Graham Lakeslide works on cases involving the First Amendment, libel, and slander. Nightly, his true profession comes into play. At home, he receives e-mails from distraught professors, lawyers, doctors, and even government officials pleading for his help. At that, Graham Lakeslide becomes Super Comma: to serve and protect the English language.

Super Comma’s first case was a big one. The United States Secretary of the Treasury had a billion dollar disaster on his hands. His advisors had been taking notes at a press conference with four other nations, but because of their lack of grammar knowledge, they forgot commas on documents dealing with world finances! The chief advisor claimed the United States owed China $37468000 instead of $374,680.00! The difference between the punctuation and lack thereof was monumental, and similar situations occurred throughout the document. The United States was to lose thousands of dollars, so they called the one and only… Super Comma!

Super Comma was equipped with a belt of pens ranging from red to green to purple. He held white-out in his chest pocket and a grammar guide in his sleeve. With his special grammar glasses, Super Comma had x-ray vision, meaning he could see into piles of paper and immediately detect grammar errors.

Using his gift of perfect grammar gab, Super Comma talked his way into a free flight to Washington, D.C. He flashed his Super Comma badge and entered the White House. The Secretary of the Treasury gave him the faulted documents, and Super Comma used his x-ray vision and red pen to make them flawless. When he went to correct the document on the computer, the document froze! Technology reared its evil head and forbid him from correcting punctuation! Restarting the computer only worsened the matter when the keyboard, too, refused to work. Quick on his feet, Super Comma began to write the document with his black pen. Dignified individuals were going to arrive any second! Thankfully, Super Comma’s speedwriting power allowed him to finish the job. The United States’ bank account was saved!

At the end of the night, Super Comma succeeded in his endeavor and left the Department of the Treasury with fifty copies of Allison’s Grammar Guide so government advisors could brush up on grammar. As he took off into the night, Super Comma told those he left to learn the book by heart. Yet another step was taken to end the slaughter of grammar.

Super Comma: saving the world, one comma at a time.

The Adventures of Wonder Semicolon

The year is 2800, and caffeine is the number-one drug used in the world. Everyone drinks liquids with this stimulant in it every day, so they all speak super fast all the time. This has led to poor judgment with regard to grammar, and one person has decided to stop this.

Anne Pauley is a high school English teacher. She grades papers on a weekly basis, but it takes her forever to get through them because her students have such a poor understanding of punctuation. They have run-on sentences that go on for miles!

This is a big issue for Miss Pauley’s AP English Literature classes. Grammar counts for a large portion of the grade on the major research paper at the end of the year, and if the students don’t do well on that, they cannot graduate. This is unacceptable to Miss Pauley, so her mission is to annihilate run-ons.

Students waltzed into Miss Pauley’s fourth period AP English class on Friday to receive their first drafts for their research papers back. To their horror, all of them had a red letter note at the top of each paper:

WITHOUT PUNCTUATION PROPERLY PLACED, I WILL NOT READ THIS. PLEASE FIX.

The students did not know what to do! Graduation was in one month, and none of them knew what to do about their papers. There was a substitute in English that day, but they saw a poster on Miss Pauley’s filing cabinet:

Wonder Semicolon: improving sentences since 2011.

The students decided to call Wonder Semicolon. She loaded her pockets with punctuation stickers, semicolon stamps, and an Allison’s Grammar Guide and made her way to the high school.

Wonder Semicolon walked into a room of disarray and chaos. She saw caffeinated drinks everywhere, and students talked over each other a mile and minute.

“Full stop!” Wonder Semicolon exclaimed. “My goodness, you need to lay off the caffeine. Slow down, take a breath every once in a while. Now, let’s talk semicolons. You all know that periods end sentences, but what do semicolons do? They end sentences too, in a way, but they also bring together two full, complete thoughts that go together.”

She told the students to utilize the punctuation in the English language because we have it for a reason. Periods, semicolons, commas – used correctly, and they make papers sound 100 times more intelligent.

Wonder Semicolon left the class with copies of Allison’s Grammar Guide. The next week, Miss Pauley sat down to grade her class’s research papers and was able to read them all. All of her students graduated.

Wonder Semicolon: improving sentences, papers, and lives one day at a time.

The Adventures of Heroic Hyphen

The year is 2800, and people just want whoever they are talking to to get to the point of the matter as quickly and concisely as possible. No matter what the conversation is about, people still have their next destination and next move in mind as they sit there and listen. This simply will not do, for this makes them lose significant details that make stories interesting.

Inside one Kansas City newsroom sits a disheveled young man. He has just started working for the newspaper as a copy editor, and the stress is weighing on him. The stories he receives are dry and strictly fact-based. Even the features have no depth or emotion because the writers believe the citizens have no desire to read anything beyond the bare bones of stories. This man, however, sees further into every story and grasps the realization that there is more to every event and every person written about in their paper. This is why he was hired. The Kansas City newspaper needed Heroic Hyphen to become the newspaper they used to be.

One day, Heroic Hyphen was reading a feature about a young boy who races autocross. The writer had interviewed the boy’s parents, sister, and racing coach, but the story bored Heroic Hyphen to tears! He knew he had to get on the phone right away if he wanted to have any chance of saving the newspaper.

Heroic Hyphen called in reinforcements — commas, parentheses, and brackets — to the newsroom. Together, they called the sources for the story and asked intelligent, stimulating questions that would provoke responses that make a story publishable. They dished for details on why things are the way they are and how things came to be. They dug for quotes that would have an impact on someone reading them.

After about two hours, the punctuation gang, led by Heroic Hyphen, had gathered enough information that could be integrated into the boring story.

“But wait!” Heroic Hyphen declared. “In order to insert this information in a grammatically correct fashion, we must use hyphens, commas, parenthesis, or brackets to connect the thoughts to the previously written sentences. That way, the point of the sentence remains the same, but details are also included.”

The other punctuation marks agreed that this was very true, and by the time the story was finished, it was both grammatically correct and interesting to read. Heroic Hyphen had succeeded in his first day on the job as copy editor.

Heroic Hyphen: improving lives one quote at a time.

The Adventures of Courageous Colon

The year is 2800, and people have a difficult time figuring out the point of the matter at hand. They get so caught up in themselves and so jumbled together in a mess of words that they often lose what is really important. This occurs at none other than the local hospital.

Dr. Seth Silver is a young, very busy doctor. He wants to do his job to the best of his ability, but he has hundreds of patients, and the staff is very small. He’s running out of patience.

He walks into patients’ rooms and does not make any small talk. He fills the conversation with medical terms, leaving any “personal words” to the nurses. This leaves the patient with a conglomeration of words and phrases that tell them nothing. This isn’t good.

One patient was fed up with Dr. Silver’s egotistical practices. Sally Walker was a middle-aged woman who, during her third visit to Dr. Silver, was told a diagnosis that she did not understand. This resulted in a medical attack that left her temporarily blind. Obviously, this would not do, so Sally decided to take drastic measures to prevent this from ever happening again. This was a job for Courageous Colon!

Courageous Colon knows that sometimes it is important to emphasize points and facts. He realizes that sometimes, things can be overwhelming and cause people distress. For this reason, Courageous Colon exists. As he ventures to his assignment, he equips himself with various colored highlighters and a blow horn — both tools for the utmost best emphasizing.

Courageous Colon entered Dr. Seth Silver’s office.

“Good morning – uh – listen, I don’t have time to converse right now – er – I have seven patients to go see and four surgeries to complete, along with a dozen meetings and two working lunches,” Dr. Silver said. “I need to go; I’m actually late right now —–!”

“Halt: you need to calm down,” Courageous Colon declared. “Is that how you speak to your patients? That just won’t do. That breathless, quick talk just zooms straight over everyone’s heads, and it makes your patients feel worthless.”

“I know, I know,” Dr. Silver shrugged. “But I’m constantly in a hurry, and I don’t know what else to do!”

“Use colons! They are used to introduce what it is you are talking about, and they emphasize the point you are trying to make,” Courageous Colon said. “And… They can be used to make emoticons as well. It’s a win-win. You just need to preface the main parts of your speeches so the patients hear what they need to hear.”

“I guess I can do that. I’ve just been stressed,” Dr. Silver replied.

Courageous Colon left Dr. Silver with a copy of Allison’s Grammar Guide so his patients would never feel unloved again.

Sally Walker was very grateful for this and vowed to call Courageous Colon or one of his punctuation pals if she had an issue again.

Courageous Colon: improving lives one doctor’s visit at a time.

The Adventures of Associate Apostrophe

The year is 2800, and people own a lot of “stuff.” Over the years, they have acquired items of all sorts and types – from knick-knacks to prized possessions and everything in between. However, labels are outdated, and punctuation confuses people. That results in a major issue.

In preschools, teachers cannot figure out which crayons belong to which student. In hospitals, nurses have trouble remembering to whom medicine belongs. In police stations, detectives cannot recall if a court case dealt with a single defendant or multiple criminals. These are problems, and one woman has decided to rectify them.

Tina Perkins is an associate at the Thomas & Perkins law firm. She works with property theft, which goes hand-in-hand with her childhood love of apostrophes. This little punctuation mark not only brought words together for faster, less formal speech, but it also helped her out many times on the playground when her peers tried to steal her cookies.

When prosecuting in a property theft case, Tina Perkins relies primarily on a sidekick she likes to call Associate Apostrophe.

“Your honor, this is a case of apostrophe abuse,” Perkins declared. “After dozens of these cases, I have decided that it is time to discuss and highlight the appropriate use of apostrophes for court record.”

“Go ahead,” Judge Drake replied.

“Thank you, your honor.” Perkins took out a copy of Allison’s Grammar Guide. “This is Associate Apostrophe, and it clarifies every ownership problem we have ever come across. The Associate Apostrophe is very simple. You take a person’s name or an animal’s or an organization’s and add an apostrophe ‘s’ to it when giving something possession of an object. It really is that simple. As you can see on this chart:

Amy’s class                                         Spot’s collar

Thomas’s book                                    Deep Run Northwest’s award

the use of Associate Apostrophe is extremely helpful and important. It can be used in both singular and plural cases and is always used the same way!

“In addition, Associate Apostrophe contracts words. Don’t, isn’t, can’t – those are all because of the apostrophe!” Perkins exclaimed.

“Well, Ms. Perkins, your passion for your work is very apparent,” Judge Drake responded. “I believe it is high time you became a partner in your father’s law firm.”

Tina Perkins left the courtroom with a bright smile on her face. She hung up her Associate Apostrophe charts and neatly placed her copy of Allison’s Grammar Guide back on her bookshelf. It had been a quality day’s work.

Associate Apostrophe: improving lives one object at a time.

The Adventures of The Quotables

The year is 2800, and people enjoy going to Broadway and off-Broadway shows. This is an outlet they still really like, but unfortunately, the actors have a few issues when performing.

Each night, the performers stumble over each other’s lines and, at times, even vocalize the stage directions. Obviously, both of these actions take away from the production, so a team of four individuals – Broadway enthusiasts – decided to attempt to fix the disheartening situation.

These four people called themselves The Quotables, and each wear a pair of double quotations on their chests. Their mission is to introduce the concept of quotation marks to these Broadway performers, for hopefully, this will relight the spark that is the theater.

The Quotables entered the back room of the stage, where all the members of the cast were meeting.

“Perfect,” Quotable #1 stated. “You guys ready for this?”

“Absolutely,” Quotable #4 said.

“I just hope this helps…” Quotable #2 said.

“It will,” Quotable #3 said. “Let’s do this.”

The Quotables happened to walk in during a rehearsal. The environment on stage was very chaotic, and the cast and crew members were getting frustrated with each other. The actors had memorized the wrong lines, and the stars were reciting emotions and stances – things in the script that were not meant to be spoken out loud for everyone to hear.

“Stop, stop, stop!” the show’s director screamed. “This is not working! What is wrong with you people? You are trained Broadway performers!”

“Sorry to interrupt,” Quotable #3 said. “But we know how to fix your issues.”

“Who the heck are you four?” the producer asked.

“We are The Quotables, and we are here to help you by teaching the wonders of punctuation,” Quotable #2 said.

“We love Broadway, but currently, the shows are not as smooth as they should be,” Quotable #4 said. “We believe this is because of a lack of quotation marks knowledge.”

“Quotation marks are used to denote dialogue. Words within the quotation marks are meant to be said. Words on the outside are just meant to be read,” Quotable #3 said.

“There is a beginning and an end quotation mark. Look for both to see which lines you have. When a new set begins, it is another person’s turn to read,” Quotable #1 said.

“Following these rules will produce better overall shows and will give you one less thing to worry about each night,” Quotable #4 said.

This new punctuation knowledge awed the cast and crew of the show, and from that day forward, they never again had trouble with their lines.

The Quotables: improving lives, one speech at a time.

The Adventures of Practical Parenthesis

The year is 2800, and people are pretty funny. Life can be kind of slow sometimes, but one thing the citizens of the world have not lost is their sense of humor. Their sarcasm and wit remain intact. However, because of issues with punctuation, they have problems recognizing if written words are meant to be taken seriously or with a sarcastic slant.

Teenagers like to think they are hysterical, so when they write emails to each other, they include lots of jokes and such. Unfortunately, while they can dish the sarcasm, they cannot always take it. Somewhere along the line, the joke becomes lost in translation. Sometimes, this leads to quarrels and clashes between good friends.

Now, anyone who has fought with a close friend knows how tough that can be. It would really be helpful if there was something that could at least help teenagers and adults differentiate between sarcasm and sincerity.

That is where Practical Parenthesis comes into play. This hero has been lost in MLA page citations and clarification of quotes and adding side comments to essays. She wants to do more – she wants to have an impact on the world, a positive effect.

Practical Parenthesis knows how it feels to be on the outs with her best friend. She and good pal Brilliant Brackets had a bit of a debacle when they debated over their own grammatical functions. Luckily, they patched things up after a few months, but she wants to stop anyone else from having to go through that, if possible.

So, Practical Parenthesis sent out an email to teens she knew and hoped it would be forwarded on to more individuals. In her email, Practical Parenthesis wrote:

“Hello, all. My name is Practical Parenthesis, and no, this is not spam. I’m not going to ask for money, but I do hope to improve your life. I love a quality joke. Sarcasm is absolutely awesome. However, I know both of these things are difficult to convey in simple emails or text messages. That is why I am here to help. Attached, you will find a complete copy of Allison’s Grammar Guide. In that lovely document, you will find a section on parenthesis. Parenthesis can mean the difference between friendship and loss.

When typing jokes, how much easier would it be to put ‘just kidding’ in parenthesis after it? How much less stress would you have to deal with by writing ‘sarcasm intended,’ or, for good measure, ‘no sarcasm or pun intended’? A lot, I am sure. Those simple side comments could make a major impact on your life. Try it out; I promise parenthesis are practical and will go a long way!”

So, Practical Parenthesis felt pretty good about herself. The email was forwarded on to many, many people, and they all led happier lives with less drama.

Practical Parenthesis: improving lives one joke at a time.

The Adventures of Slash

The year is 2800, and people need options. They always follow the same guidelines they have set for themselves, and that is no fun. Additionally, language is as significant as ever, and people keep finding loopholes in governmental laws.

The nine Supreme Court justices are all very intelligent, yet when they write decisions, they are sloppy with language. Their word choice is loose, which allows criminals to get away with horrific acts and for the government to take away the fundamental rights of the people.

That is where Benjamin Baker comes into the picture. Benjamin Baker, also known as Slash, has become fed up with the horrendous decisions written by the chief justice.

One day, Slash waltzed into the courtroom.

“Mr. Chief Justice, you are committing an injustice!” Slash pronounced.

“Excuse me?” Chief Justice Rainer questioned.

“You heard me. Your writing is erroneous and is full of loopholes. When you write the majority opinion, you are too specific – you do not think about the fact that there are other horrible things that people could do,” Slash declared.

“So what?” Chief Justice Rainer asked, angrily.

“So what… You should be ashamed of yourself! The government can destroy the lives of children because you said no adult may steal a puppy from an individual’s home. By not using a backslash to denote home / car / property, you allowed Jimmy Roberts’s new dog to be taken from him as he walked his golden retriever. And he never got poor Spot back!” Slash returned the anger.

“What is your point?” Chief Justice Rainer asked.

“My point, your honor, is with this,” he handed the Chief Justice a copy of Allison’s Grammar Guide. “Using a backslash to present options will save lives and make your opinions shine.”

Chief Justice Rainer realized Slash was right, and he decided to make his opinions tighter and, therefore, stronger.

Slash: improving lives one law at a time.

The Adventures Intergalactic Interrobang

The year is 2800, and earthlings have learned that there is, in fact, life in another universe. That universe is called Grammarctica, and in that galaxy, which is not too far away and yet not super close either, we find Intergalactic Interrobang. However, this story is not like the others for one reason and one reason only: Intergalactic Interrobang is no hero. In fact, he is the villain all English teachers fight to extinct from all galaxies.

You see, Intergalactic Interrobang is both a question mark and an exclamation point. Instead of choosing just one, he finds himself expressing both curiosity and excitement at once, which is just too confusing for the average person in Grammarctica.

One day, a group of girls named Amy, Erin, Lauren, and Lucy were having a conversation on the Internet. The four girls were in four different houses and had this conversation by typing messages to each other, like Earth’s Instant Messaging service. Well, Intergalactic Interrobang infiltrated Erin’s Internet service and started throwing interrobangs into every statement she made. Erin tried to simply ask her friends if they wanted to join her for ice cream the following afternoon. Instead, her message was:

“Ladies, do you want to get ice cream after school tomorrow?!”

By having an interrobang end the sentence, Erin came across as demanding and somewhat desperate. Her friends were happy that Erin was so enthusiastic about spending time with them, but they were also a bit worried. Later in the conversation, as the girls were gossiping about boys at school, Lauren wanted to state that she had a crush on a boy named Daniel. But yet again, Intergalactic Interrobang swarmed the Internet and took control of Lauren’s message:

“I have a crush on Daniel?!”

The girls were confused and worried yet again, for why doesn’t Lauren know the answer to her own feelings? They went along with it anyway, and the next day, the four talked while sharing ice cream. Amy mentioned the interrobangs, and her three friends agreed that something had to be done. An intergalactic force could not impede their conversations again. So, they traveled to Intergalactic Interrobang’s question-mark-shaped lair with the exclamation-point-shaped door and demanded an appointment with Intergalactic Interrobang.

Intergalactic Interrobang was a poor soul. He lived a confused and jumbled life, for he could never decide if he wanted to be interrogative or exclamatory. As it turns out, Intergalactic Interrobang wasn’t a villain at all. He just wanted people to know who he was, and he just wanted to feel needed. He figured that by forcing himself into people’s lives, people would use interrobangs more in their chats with pals and family. He understood that while he probably should not have taken control of the Internet or forced himself into conversations, he is actually a very useful punctuation mark. If he had gone about making friends the right way, it is possible that English teachers would actually like him and teenagers would utilize his services regularly.

Intergalactic Interrobang: being utilized happily since 2800.

The Adventures of the Forgotten Sidekick

The year is 2800, and people are confused. They read articles in magazines and newspapers that make no sense. The quotes look jumbled together, and people sound dumb because the journalists combine quotes incorrectly. It is as if the journalists have forgotten everything they learned about punctuation! Instead of using an ellipsis to put parts of a person’s quotes together, these journalists use nothing at all.

Long ago in an ancient, medieval land, there was a lone wanderer. He lurked in corners and under desks, just waiting to be needed. This lone wanderer was known as the ellipsis. At times, he would pop up in random places like essays and text messages. He would be used to convey confusion and uncertainty and to pronounce that information was, indeed, missing.

When people began sending ellipsis-only messages, enough was enough. First, the mismanaged quotes, and now this?! Our Forgotten Sidekick realized it was time to kick things into gear. He gathered several items together: a smart phone, incorrectly construed essays, newspapers, DOTS (the candy, of course), and an original edition of Allison’s Grammar Guide. His destination? A high school newsroom.

The Forgotten Sidekick entered room 904 as the student journalists were rushing to meet a deadline. The copy editors were up to their ears in pages to edit and stories to fix. They were annoyed because they had to cut a lot from a few stories, and sadly, the writers had utilized that dang ellipsis and put the stories all out of whack!

“Excuse me,” Forgotten Sidekick said to a clearly stressed out student. “Are you in charge of this publication?”

“Uh, yes, what’s up?” the editor-in-chief replied.

“I am Forgotten Sidekick the Ellipsis, and my source tells me your staff needs a lesson in ellipsis maintenance. I’m here for that.”

“Oh, thank goodness,” the editor said. “Even a deadline can wait for this.” She gathered the staff together for this long-awaited chat.

“Good afternoon, everyone. I know you are on a strict deadline, so I will make this quick,” Forgotten Sidekick Ellipsis declared. “I understand you all are having issues with the ellipsis. Never fear, I am here. Rule number one, when using me to combine quotes, make sure the words still flow together and make sense. Rule two, when texting with one of these…” Forgotten Sidekick Ellipsis said as he whipped out the cell phone, “use the ellipsis responsibly. It can express uncertainty, but that is by no means its main function. Rule three, avoid an ellipsis in essays. We don’t want teachers thinking there is a gap in your knowledge!”

After announcing these rules, Forgotten Sidekick Ellipsis decided it would be a good idea to practice them, so he took out the DOTS and started “pin the ellipsis to the sentence.” This seemed to really help, so Forgotten Sidekick Ellipsis believed his work was done and left the staff with Allison’s Grammar Guide. This newspaper never had ellipsis problems again.

Forgotten Sidekick Ellipsis: improving students’ lives one subject at a time.

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