Thursday, January 31, 2008


Back when riding the subway all by ourselves was an adventure and Pong was a state-of-the-art video game, one afternoon, while my brother and I were waiting for a train, a man, dressed in a jacket and tie, handed us a piece of paper on which the message above was printed in large, uneven letters.

Grammar freaks that we were, my brother and I spent the train ride debating whether, despite the absence of a comma after "which," we were supposed to beware all computers, which, presumably among their other nefarious activities, were marking food, or whether the writer, making the common mistake of using "which" when he meant "that," had intended to warn us about only that specific subset of computers actually involved in the ill-defined, but evidently evil, food marking process.

Your thoughts?

And when you're done pondering that, go have some fun generating your own ransom-note-style messages.

14 comments:

Julie Pippert said...

I'd err on the side of assuming he meant to use "which" not "that" and made the common amateur mistake of absenting the comma, thereby rendering his message confusing. Although, either way, that message makes no sense.

So as an editor, I'd have rewritten that as, "Beware of computers that are marking food."

You know what makes me more nuts? This sort of thing:

Call the people which are waiting for you to call.

Make me nuts!!!!!

People are whos, anyway, despite the fact that none of us 9allegedly) were created by Dr. Seuss.

wheelsonthebus said...

I'm an Eats, Shoots, and Leaves kinda girl, myself.

LAS said...

How do you find all these fun things to do on the Internet? We had Atari and loved it. Anyway, I think the author meant "that."

painted maypole said...

and you are still thinking about it decades later. i think that's what the man had in mind. ;)

Becky said...

But did the note say what KIND of food? That would be the question. I could overlook a lot if it were say, creme brulee.

meg said...

Was he talking about Apple?

Magpie said...

Do you still have the piece of paper?

An aside, the site you got that from also has the most beautiful and addictive little game - it's meant for the iphone or ipod touch, but you can play it on any computer. It's called Glint, and it's like Sudoku in color.

Tash said...

Is this some prescient comment on genetically modified food? Were you eating cheese doodles at the time? Must go check out this ransom font.

allypally said...

Reminds me of a Laurie Anderson monologue.

Bon said...

see, now, i have more trouble with food marking my computers...just yesterday i had to try to wipe a clot of sticky, half-dried tomato seeds off my laptop keyboard without having them slide under the keys to create permanent nefarious sludge.

though i suppose if the computers are actually leaving their mark on food, then dude may be more on the wavelength of my own recent foray into alarmism. :)

calliope said...

posts like this freak me OUT. I have the worst (WORST) ability to remember grammar rules and I am paranoid that people are running after my posts with red pens and cursing my name.

niobe said...

Calliope: This post was supposed to show what dweebs (in the language of the time) my brother and I were and how, instead of focusing on the bizarre substance of the message, we concentrated on the least important part of it -- the grammar, totally missing the point.

calliope said...

oooooh! gotcha. paranoid freak that I am made it all about my crap grammar. go figure. :)

(emoticon!)

Christine said...

did you save the original letter? i always save weird stuff like that. once a completely light up car wanted me to plug it into our electrical outlet in our apartment in berkely. they then gave uis a bunch of crazy postcards with crazy cars on it.

still have them

i'm a pack rat.



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