When I Put Something In Italics, I Mean It

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Vol 36 Issue 29

Critics Accuse New Movie Of Glorifying Sex

HOLLYWOOD, CA–The Five Senses, a new film from Fine Line Features starring Mary-Louise Parker and Philippe Volter, is drawing fire from conservative Christian groups who charge that it glorifies sex. "Billing itself as 'a touching exploration of human perceptions and dynamics,' The Five Senses is filled with images of adults engaged in intimate acts of sexual union," said Focus On The Family executive director Michael White. "By depicting it so frequently and so casually, this film only serves to condone the act of lovemaking." White added that sexual imagery in Hollywood films is largely to blame for "the proliferation of sexuality in society."

Husband Points Out That He Vacuumed

BOISE, ID–Area husband Will Grantham, proud of his contribution to the household chores, made special note to his wife Monday that he vacuumed the living room and hallway. "I took care of the vacuuming," Grantham told wife Emily as she scrubbed mildew out of the shower tile grout. "There might be some lint under the sofa, but I got all the visible parts." Grantham previously made headlines for his 1997 unsolicited wiping of dust from a den bookshelf.

Area Organization Pro-White, Ain't Anti-Nobody

WAYCROSS, GA–The International Knights Of The White Race, a Waycross-based "Caucasian advocacy" group, is about celebratin' one's own whiteness and ain't about hatin' nobody, Exalted High Commander Clem Hooton said Monday. "The Knights is about bein' white and proud. We don't tell nobody to go out beatin' on no blacks or nothin'," Hooton said. "Like it say on our pamphletures, we officially ain't responsible for what y'all do, 'cause we about getting together to celebrate our genetric superiosity in a real peaceable manner."

Man Insists On Calling Fanny Pack 'Lumbar Satchel'

LORAIN, OH–According to coworkers, Novitech systems administrator Ted Shiner insists on referring to his fanny pack as a "lumbar satchel." "I asked him if he had the key to the fifth-floor men's room, and he tells me to get it out of his 'lumbar satchel,'" account manager Fred Weyert said of the ponytailed, 29-year-old Shiner. "I had to ask him, like, three more times and go through having him describe exactly where it was on his desk before I realized he was talking about his damn fanny pack."

Scientists Put Sleep-Inducing Power Of Agribusiness Today Into Pill

INDIANAPOLIS–At a press conference Monday, pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly unveiled Agritol, a new over-the-counter sedative with the sleep-inducing powers of the AM-radio program Agribusiness Today. Said Eli Lilly spokesman Gregory Bordick: "Each 40-milligram Agritol caplet contains a full 30 minutes of barley forecasts, grain-storage hints, and, just in case you need that extra help nodding off, citrus-canker reports." Last year, the FDA declared drought-relief coverage "unsafe" for use in sleep aids after lab animals' hearts stopped as a result of exposure.

Cell-Phone Safety

Cell-phone use in automobiles is a growing problem, with more and more accidents involving distracted drivers. What is the government doing to combat the problem?

Roach Motel

As my more astute readers will no doubt recall, about three weeks back, I was mysteriously transformed into a gigantic cock-roach. Though the change has been decidedly odd and shows no sign of reverting any-time soon, I must confess that I am having the time of my life. I can now eat all the foods that age and infirmity once denied me: binding-glue, horse-dung, toe-nail parings, silver-fish–everything! I can carry myself about my enormous mansion, though I cannot seem to keep from disappearing under furniture whenever the lights are suddenly switched on. I can even climb to the ceiling and suspend myself for a time. (It is quite luxurious to sway in the air-currents and doze off!) I leave a much smaller slime trail than I did as an aged gentle-man, and if my looks are not much improved, I gather that my odor most certainly is.

Lawn-And-Garden Tips

For homeowners, few things are more satisfying than a beautiful lawn and garden. Here are some tips to help you improve yours:

Millions Participate In Cuban Version Of Survivor

HAVANA, CUBA–Inspired by the hit CBS show Survivor, Cuba's 11 million citizens are participating in their own version of the popular island-survival game. "I hope very much to make it to next week," said contestant Livan Ordonez, eating a rat as part of a "Starvation-Immunity Challenge" during last Wednesday's episode. "If I do not survive, who will provide for the Ordonez Tribe?" Under the somewhat altered rules for Cuban Survivor, contestants who fail to remain on the island are declared the winners.
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When I Put Something In Italics, I Mean It

I've been office manager at Johnson Railing Supply, central Missouri's largest wholesaler of rails, for more than seven years. And in that time, I've had the chance to hone my writing skills in countless company memos, bulletin-board announcements, and break-room signs. With all this writing experience, I have the ability to cut through excess verbiage and get my message across clearly and effectively. But, despite this expertise, I've found there are those who fail to respond appropriately to strongly worded directives. They fail to understand that when I put something in italics, I mean it.

Take, for example, last week's memo regarding use of the company credit card, wherein I made it clear to employees that the card is to be used for pre-approved purchases only. Would you believe that on Monday I received a receipt from Janet Dahl for a pack of halogen light bulbs, for which a purchase request had not been filled out? What gives?

Then there was the time someone was leaving leftovers in the break-room fridge for weeks at a time. After a while, the fridge started to stink. I was put in charge of handling the situation. And that's just what I did, posting a sign reading, "Items Remaining In The Fridge For More Than Seven Days Will Be Thrown Out." But, lo and behold, despite my no-nonsense deployment of italics, a carton of Egg Foo Yung showed up on the bottom shelf the very next day and stayed for nearly four weeks.

For some reason, time and time again, people ignore the importance of words placed in italics. Last month, my lovely wife Carla and I threw a party for our 20th wedding anniversary. On the invitation, I clearly stated, "Your presence is our present." Yet we still received gifts from a number of our guests. Further, though the invitation clearly stated that dinner would start "at 8 p.m. promptly," several couples had the audacity to arrive at 8:15. Appetizers had already come and gone by the time they walked in the door.

Some people may recklessly pepper their work with unnecessary italics. Not I. I understand that italicization is something to be used sparingly, only when you are really serious about stressing the importance of certain words. The same thing goes for the exclamation point. Like italics, this atom bomb of punctuation must be deployed judiciously, only when absolutely necessary. For example, its use is wholly appropriate when you wish to remind your fellow Johnson Railing Supply employees that the second-floor stairwell door is to remain closed at all times!

But if, after posting such a reminder, the door continues to be held open with a ream of copier paper, it may be necessary to fortify the italics and exclamation point with capitals, underlines, and boldface: "Propping The Door Open IS A FIRE HAZARD!" In such extreme cases, one may also be forced to scold guilty parties with such parenthetical clauses as "(You know who you are!)" and "(If you have a problem with this, see Donald!)"

Yet, all too often, despite my carefully considered stylistic choices, my message is lost on others–even when I painstakingly call attention to the important parts of a sentence with a long dash. In handwritten material, I sometimes employ the triple-underline and, should the need arise, write in red magic marker. Such techniques, however, are impossible to render in typed memos and letters, not to mention grossly inappropriate in formal correspondence.

Perhaps I'll need to resort to swearing to get my points across. In the past, in dealing with my son, I've used the strong arm by leaving notes informing him that the "@#&*%! lawn" had better be mowed by 8 p.m. In the future, I may even have to add that if it is not, there will be hell to pay.

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