« Joke of the week: "The Matchmaker" | Main | Unassigned reading »

They call it your day off

I did sleep in, but I’ve attended to the cat litter, cut the grass and started on four loads of laundry, with ironing, and tried to goad the Calvert Street staff into posting the word of the week that I filed five days ago (Grrrrr). The trip to the hardware store and the trip to the grocery remain.

If I can get through all that by 5:30—and even if I don’t—I plan a trip to the Hamilton Tavern for a restorative pint or two and their pork belly banh mi. It is an extraordinary sandwich; you first get the rich taste of the pork, then the cilantro (yeah, yeah, I know half of you think it tastes like soap and despise it), and then the heat comes up behind it. It’s a three-stage sandwich, and I have come to like it even better than their Crosstown Burger, one of the finest burgers in Baltimore.

In the evening, class prep for tormenting the undergraduates tomorrow. I have threatened them with a grammar quiz and must maintain my credibility.

A reminder: This is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Those rhotic rogues say “Arrrrr.” “Arrrgh” is a cry of agony or despair. I should not have to keep reminding you of this.

Bogus distinctions: I have leapt a high hurdle to become a Finalist in’s contest for Best Grammar Blog of 2011! That means I got five votes. Even for a journalist, in a profession that hands out certificates, plaques, and trophies the way civilians hand out Halloween candy, this seems a bit much.

I don’t begrudge the eventual winners whatever distinction this competition affords, but I am comfortable about sitting this one out.



Posted by John McIntyre at 2:11 PM | | Comments (11)


Sir John, I lend attention to your blog not just for your grammarian comments, pithy and wise though they may be.

It is the personal tidbits that slip through (and in certain cases dribble - see Bourbon...) that make this blog the enjoyable visit that it turns out to be.

While I may occasionally disagree with your comments and/or whinging, it is your, ahem, humble humanity and stories of everyday existence that keeps your readers coming back for more. With most grammar blogs I get grammar. With You Don't Say, I get life.

Are you feeling avuncular yet? Cheers!

The irrepressible fairchild says it well...

The first time I informed my younger son that it was "International Talk Like a Pirate Day," his response was "EVERY day is Talk Like a Pirate Day."

My sister attended a pirate costume party recently wearing a toy parrot on her shoulder. One women stared at her and said "Do you know you have a duck on your shoulder?"

Hmm, 22 votes at the time of writing, well in excess of the required 5 for nomination. With this display of enthusiasm who knows what might happen in the voting proper. There is, after all, a $250 prize at stake. Does Amazon stock Bourbon?

Dahlink, re toy parrots; Peter Sellers, Revenge of the Pink Panther, salty Swedish sea dog.


I just spent far too long scrounging to figure out how to vote for this site, which I consider well deserving of any such award. But alas, I couldn't find it anywhere! Have the judges, like the Hogwarts Sorting Hat, taken your wishes into account and withdrawn your entry? Not finding yours I voted for Language Log, which at time of writing lags at 3 votes, but I'd be very curious if you or anyone in this thread knows what's up with this at

Your reading public will force this award on you yet! :D

Yes, this is my idea of a day off.

The classic image of the sea-going pirate persists, and who am I to spoil the fun, especially with Hallowe'en just over the horizon. Though were any of us were confronted by an actual sea-going Somali pirate, I suspect we'd be half insane with fright.

Mmmm, Hamilton Tavern fare: Noted!

International Talk Like A Pirate Day didn't go that well, here. Bankers are not fun folk. Thay ain't fakin' that. They really are not.

Dahlink, I'd have gone for The Pythons' Dead Parrot skit, myself.

Eve, if only you ran the world!


Me thinks that faux-buccaneer woman at your sister's recently attended pirate costume bash may have had one too many flagons of ye olde grog (or some other potent potable), to have actually mistaken a fake parrot for a duck.

Clearly, not a birder. Or possibly it was merely a case of a very poorly rendered parrot prop. Arrrgh!

@-------Eve, that early 'Python' deceased parrot skit has to rank up there in my top five "Python' bits of all time.

I also loved the hilarious fantasy soccer match between the team of ancient Greek and Roman philosophers, and the rival 18th, 19th, and 20th century thinkers. I believe that was basically the player breakdown (could be wrong), w/ the ancients in their de rigueur togas dashing up-and-down the grassy pitch; occasionally stopping in their tracks to read from one of their own philosophical tracts as play continued, uninterrupted. Of course, all the while we had the feigning-serious off-camera announcer, Eric Idle, doing his finest BBC- style sports play-by-play running commentary, as if it were just a perfectly normal match between say today's Real Madrid and Manchester United. Priceless.

"Socrates heads it up to Aristotle. Brilliant! .... Aristotle bends a beauty to a fast charging Plato, as a principled Archimedes dashes to the net, w/ Marx and Weber putting up a strong socialist defense......... "....... and so it went.......... kinda. HA!

Classic, first-rate stuff.

The motley 'Python' gang was really setting the sketch comedy bar in their day, while the SNL folks were doing their equally brilliant 'thing' back on this side of the Pond. Of course, our largely Canadian parody troop at SCTV also came to the fore in those heady days of situational satiric comedy------John Candy, Eugene Levi, Dave Thomas, Martin Short, Rick Moranis, Andrea Martin, and Co.


Alex, I have not personally seen this particular parrot prop, but I trust my sister to get these things right. I asked if she had a snappy squawk-back, but she replied that the woman looked as if she forgot her meds, so she refrained from saying anything.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
Baltimore Sun Facebook page

Most Recent Comments
Sign up for FREE local news alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for local news text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
Stay connected