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The Birds and the Bees

Hi, ho! Lots of “Behind The Scenes” news from “A Way with Words” this week, but first:

In this week’s episode, we discuss “burrito babies” and other college slang. Also, “overegging the pudding,” “gobsmacked,” a mnemonic for “who” and “whom,” apostrophe placement, and the embarrassing results of smartphone autocorrections. Buen provecho!


“Is It Time to Welcome Our New Computer Overlords?” After human competitors were bested by a machine named Watson on “Jeopardy!” last week, Ben Zimmer raised this question in The Atlantic. He concludes that when it comes to language, we carbon-based life forms remain superior.


While you’re there, if you have a strong stomach and a disdain for overblown food writing, you might also appreciate the Atlantic article by B.R. Meyers, which addresses some excesses in that genre.


If you’re following our Facebook and Twitter feeds, you already know about the Egyptian who was so excited by the revolution organized largely through social media, he named his firstborn son “Facebook.”

As one of our respondents noted, let’s hope Mr. Zuckerberg doesn’t claim trademark rights.


BEHIND THE SCENES: It’s “The Birds and the Bees” Week in San Diego!

Join us this Thursday, Feb. 24, for the San Diego Council on Literacy’s first “Adult Spelling Bee.” Contestants from local companies somehow mustered the courage to enter this competition at the Four Points Sheraton.

Your intrepid “A Way with Words” co-hosts will be the celebrity “designated spellers.” If a contestant is stumped, he or she can resort to “Plan Bee,” and have us take their turn instead. (Our palms are sweaty just thinking about this.)

Proceeds benefit the literacy council. Besides, isn’t the $10 admission fee is a small price to pay to see us humiliate ourselves? If you do attend, please introduce yourself. We’d love to meet you in person. Hors d’oeuvres at 5:30 p.m., and The Bee starts at 6 p.m. Details here:


Also, on Saturday, Feb. 26, Martha takes to the road with her new show, “A Way with Birds.” Actually, she’s guest auctioneer at the Buena Vista Audubon Society’s fundraiser and open house in Oceanside, Calif. If you’re in the market for a handcrafted birdhouse, bathouse, or bird feeder, come place your bids. The open house runs from 4:00-8:30 p.m. Details here:


Hmm, do you suppose we should tweet about that last one?

Chirpily yours,

Martha and Grant

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