Thursday, March 11, 2010

Exclamation Marks are Yesterday's Burden

Enormous snowflakes were falling as I drove to swimming practice this morning. I had a sudden urge to pull over and tweet, "Crap! More Snow!! Somebody take Old Man winter off Viagra!!!"

But I was strong and refrained. Whew, that was a close call.

For those wondering what I'm talking about, I've come to a punctuation crossroads on the usage of the exclamation mark (!). Apparently, I use way too many of them. Recently, I read that it's in bad form to use more than one exclamation mark in every 100,000 words. Scanning through my writings, I found examples of using two or three at a time, sometimes with multiple references per page. Yikes.

I've hit rock bottom and have decided to make a change for the better. Unfortunately, there is no Betty Ford clinic for punctuation rehabilitation. Having nowhere else to go, I've turned to the internet for the help. As an aside, the internet is the best place to seek such help, because you can always find something you want to hear that you can believe in. Anyway, I settled on a modified 12 step program suited towards my needs.

Hello my name is Brady. I am a recovering exclamation-markaholic.

Allow me clarify that in no way am I making light of 12 step methods. These programs are quite effective in treating many who are desperate for change. It is for this reason I can take solace that perhaps I can break bad habits, too.

I'm a quick study. I breezed through the first few steps. I then discovered how cathartic it was to take a personal grammar inventory. Among other things, I gained an new appreciation for the English language. Whereas English has only the one, Spanish also has the inverted exclamation mark. Crikeys. One exclamation mark is more than enough; imagine having to give up both. ¡Dé gracias a Dios yo no sé español!

Now I'm on to step 8: making amends to all I've harmed.

First, to you my public audience, I am sorry for using the exclamation point more than once in every 100K words. It must have been unbearable to read my prose at times. Thank you for sticking with me.

Specifically, I apologize to Miles, who I believe once expressed his frustration on facebook about people who abuse the exclamation mark. While I'm unsure if you were speaking to me, I'm fairly certain you've cringed more than once when visiting this blog. Miles: I am sorry to have offended you. I'm glad you're still reading this blog.

And To Bryan, who's writing is the envy of the AP Style guide editors, I owe you an amends. I cannot even recall the last time I saw you use an exclamation point. Your unencumbered writing is a clear beacon to the internet's dark cloud. Thank you for not giving up on me.

Even though my third grade teacher ridiculed me as the 'Big Cheese' in front of the entire class, I owe Ms Hannebrink an apology for having clapped, "Hanabana is a bitch!!!!!" on the brick wall with chalk board erasers. I'm sorry to have displayed such bad form, Ms Hannebrink. One exclamation point was sufficient.

I'd also be remiss if I didn't apologize to the period (.). True, a punctuation mark is not a person, but I've still managed to hold the period in contempt for being boring and understated. This is especially the case with interjections. And though there have been documented shortages of periods affecting the Times Roman Font, the superfluous use of exclamation marks on social networking sites has created a glut of periods for years to come. Indeed, I'm in arrears for an apology to the period. Sorry, period(.), dot(.) and stop(.).(period).

To Shim I owe nothing. The email with subject,"How's work?" you sent last Friday while you were cycling in Texas was predictable. Jerk. Thanks for attaching the pictures, pig. I especially enjoyed seeing those while I was at the office, you miserable vomitous mass. And while you logged over 300 miles in the warmth of Fredericksburg, I got to chase Limpach's wheel in the 34°F with overcast skies. Yes, work and Omaha were grand, you LOUSY NO GOOD SONOFABITCH!

Crap! (Sorry Miles!) Double-crap!! Aiyeeee!!!!!


Step one. I admit I'm powerless...


  1. Unofficial English department rule: you may use (absolutely not "utilize") one exclamation point in your four years of high school. Congratulations on returning to member-in-good-standing status.

    Thanks for the memories of Betty Hannebrink—!

  2. Brady, it's good you are addressing the punctuation problem!!!!! Keep up the good work on recovery!!!!!

    Ol' Dad...........

  3. I don't even want to know how bad my writing is. Not that I do it much anymore. Or that I did it much before that. And is it wrong to start sentences this way?

    Besides, I like to write like I talk. And Brady, you are one excitable person, so exclamation marks fit you just fine. In my so, so humble opinion.

  4. who needs exclamation points when you have CAPS LOCK?

  5. Oh my god. That guy is out in this weather without a coat OR pants. I sure am exclaiming my surprise about it.

  6. "And To Bryan, who's writing is the envy of the AP Style guide editors, I owe you an amends."

    should be

    "And to (lower case t) Bryan, whose (not who's) writing is the envy of the AP Style Guide (capital G) editors, I owe you an apology (we make amends, we don't owe them).

  7. Volumes could be written about Betty Hannebrink, Steve. She deserves at least one exclamation mark.

    Thanks Dad. How did you like dropping that lousy no good sonofabitch reference? Shim is one, by the way.

    I agree with you Munson. I'm high voltage. But I DON'T THINK THAT NECESSARILY MAKES ME A SHOUTER, Fred.

    Geez Bryan. What are you trying to do, push me over the edge? Serenity now. One step at a time. Serenity now.

    Serenity now.

  8. YIKES! I think you hurt my feelings!

  9. The great thing about that sonofabitch Shim is whese (or is it he's) not sure if his feeling's are hurt. I think you owe him an amends, Brady. Or maybe you should make an apology.

  10. You had me at miserable vomitous mass!

  11. Brady,
    The exclamation point post wasn't directed at you. But now that you bring it up, your use of the exclamation point was quite liberal. Reserve the ! for when it counts, that's all I was saying. When it's overused it's about as meaningful as the word epic.

  12. After re-reading Bryan's comment, I blew up an exclamation point to 72 point font with bold, Arial typeface. Then I stared at it for five minutes. It was titillating.

    But I was strong. I will not give in. You'll see, Miles, exclamation marks will be few and far between. And by the way, I silently gave up using the word 'epic' last spring.

    It's never too late to change.

  13. Brady, I found your "mo good sonofabitch" remark humorous, but yor Mom's flabber was aghast and gasted as well.