World’s Strangest

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12 Historical Speeches Nobody Ever Heard

For every speech, there are a bunch of versions that ended up on the writers’ room floor. Here are 12 speeches that were written but, for a variety of reasons, never delivered. 1. “In Event of Moon Disaster” As the world nervously waited for Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to land on the moon, Nixon speechwriter William [...]

Fumblerules of Grammar

Writer William Safire collected contradictory grammar rules from various sources and published 36 of them in his New York Times column in 1979. Eighteen more were added when he published the 2002 book Fumblerules: A Lighthearted Guide to Grammar and Good Usage. Here’s a sample: 8. Do not put statements in the negative form. 9. Verbs has [...]

Is the Adverb Dying?

For more than a century, a war has been waged against adverbs by advocates of good writing, by the likes of such literary luminaries as Mark Twain, who said — I am dead to adverbs; they cannot excite me … There are subtleties which I cannot master at all — they confuse me, they mean [...]

The Moon Disaster That Never Happened

Note: William Safire, columnist and former speechwriter, died on Sunday at age 79. I have reposted this blog post, originally from October 29, 2007, as a tribute to a great writer. In July 1969, the world watched as the crew of Apollo 11 successfully entered lunar orbit, landed, then blasted off and returned to Earth. At [...]

William Safire, R.I.P.

Speechwriter, author and famous New York Times columnist William Safire has just died of pancreatic cancer. I don’t always agree with Safire’s politics, but I’ve always found his writings to be intriguing and worth the read (not to mention rib-ticklin’ when he got going with alliterations) In memory of Safire, here’s my favorite “Rules for Writers,” from [...]