Maeve's Writing Guide Reformatted

Buyer Beware: The old version of Maeve’s writing guide is still available on Amazon in a white cover with a yellow edge. Don’t buy that one. Buy the new one with the computer on the

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A New Shibboleth

Cartoon by Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press
A reader writing a letter to the editor in my daily paper described an incident in which he went shopping, filled his basket with items totaling about $300 and then walked out of the store without completing his purchases.
What prompted him to do that?
When he entered the check-out line and

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Jeopardy and Silent H

Every so often the Jeopardy writers get it wrong. They certainly did on December 12, 2012.
One of the categories had to do with “silent H.” The first response that I noticed made perfect sense: honesty. The word honesty is spelled with an h but pronounced without one.  Ergo, the h in honesty is a “silent h.”
The

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10 Things I Didn't Know About Tarzan

Johnny Weissmuller as Tarzan of the Apes.
When I heard that a new Tarzan movie was about to be released, I started thinking about the Tarzan of my childhood: Johnny Weissmuller.
I remember Weissmuller as a great swimmer—he usually had at least one scene in which he killed some creature in the water—and as a great screamer.
His

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Jeopardy Does It Again

The Jeopardy errors continue to accumulate. Here’s a clue from the June 8, 2016 Double Jeopardy category “The Book Book”:
Jeopardy clue, June 8, 2016
$800
The “day” medieval English folk thought the world would end;
it comes before “Book” in the name of a tome that counted them.
Alex accepted the response “What is the Doomsday Book?” but

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Common Sense or Common Knowledge?

The Washington Times published a quiz with the title “Are You Common Sense Smart?” and the invitation “Take our ‘simple’ quiz to find out.”
I came across the link on Facebook. An inveterate Facebook test-taker, I took the quiz. 

Toilet Paper Ads, Then and Now

Not-so-classy British speaker
Every time a Cottonelle toilet paper ad comes on, I hit the remote, either to mute it or to change the channel. According to the usual US television trope, people who speak with a British accent are supposed to be classy.
Toilet paper ads have been with us since the early days of television.
Charmin

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Marigold, Lady Edith, and the Word “Ruse”

Marigold and Edith
Because of the taciturnity and often blank expression of the little girl who plays Marigold Gregson on Downton Abbey, I wondered if the character was supposed to have developmental problems.
Several online comments by Downton followers suggest that the character was written to be autistic. Others speculate that the child playing the part may have

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The Salem Witches and American Education

Although every textbook account that mentions the witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts enumerates the punishments meted out—none of which involved burning at the stake—many Americans persist in the notion that the Salem witches were executed in that manner. Witness this indignant comment I read in a letter to the editor condemning the US public’s penchant

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Scruffy-looking Celebrities

For some time now, I’ve wondered about the male celebrities who seem never to shave.
I don’t mean the men who wear discernible beards and/or mustaches. Well-kept facial hair is attractive on a man. I mean the ones who look as if they just forgot to shave that day.
I suppose that if I’ve thought about it

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