Something Weird This Way Comes

It’s okay to be weird. Here’s why, according to James McCrae, contributor to Huffpost.

The Blobfish lives in deep waters off the coast of Australia.

1) There is no such thing as normal.

What is normal for me may not be normal for you. When we chase the normal, we lose sight of the natural.

2) What you think is weird is really your superpower.

Your shyness, for example, might make you a better listener. Your awkward laugh might make you endearing. Our quirks, when we master them, contain great power.

3) What makes you weird makes you memorable.

Your true self, by its very nature, is captivating. People won’t remember the thing you did that everybody could do, but they will remember the thing you did that only you can do.

4) The world needs more authenticity.

We are all afraid to be the first one. When you start living as your true self, weirdness and all, you give permission to those around you to do the same. We might not say it out loud, but everyone wants to see your honest self.

5) All great art was made by weird people.

Embracing your weirdness gives you a new perspective, and the world needs a new perspective. Innovation happens when outsiders challenge the status quo with weird ideas.

6) Resisting your weirdness makes you dark.

Hiding our unique characteristics and resisting our natural self makes us feel less good and makes our personalities darker. Just like a black hole results from the absence of a star, so also the resistance to our unique qualities, however weird, results in a dark and inverted projection of self.

7) Standing out is how you find your tribe.

Standing out will not make you lonely—far from it. By living honestly, you will discover others who align with your weirdness. This is your tribe.

After spending nineteen years in a classroom, I’ve grown to appreciate weird. Today, I especially appreciate Weird Al Yankovic.

Really? you might ask.

Really. Let me set the stage.

In 2013, Robin Thicke wrote a song titled “Blurred Lines.” It won the MTV Video Music award for Best Song of the Summer.

I loved it. It’s catchy, upbeat. Makes me want to dance.

And I hated it.

The lyrics are horrible. Demeaning. Sexist. Misogynistic. The video combines live action with all that, and it makes me sick.

Obviously, I couldn’t listen to that song. Couldn’t enjoy it.

But, thanks to Weird Al, now I can.

Now, instead of women dancing—no, writhing is a better term—we see punctuation bebopping.

The lyrics are no longer sexist. They’re funny. They’re a notch above. They’re intelligent.

Watch this video, then I’ll explain why the writer/editor in me particularly appreciates what Weird Al has done.

Word Crimes

Less versus fewer

Less versus fewer

A very common mistake among authors. Less refers to things that are not easily counted, but instead are measured, as in “less time” or “less effort.” Fewer is used to describe things you can count, as in “fewer choices” or “fewer problems.”

I could care less.

People say this when they mean they don’t care. But if you could care less, then you must care a little, or there’d be nowhere less to go.

Your versus you’re

If you’re unclear about when to use your versus you’re, just find an argument on Twitter. Someone, somewhere, will use it incorrectly and the next nineteen tweets will be all about how wrong they are and will explain, with derision dripping from every letter, exactly how to use them both.

Its versus it’s

It’s a quirk of the English language. Apostrophes are used to show possession (Sophie’s choice, A Bug’s Life). But they’re also used to make contractions. Its is the anomaly. Its job is to show possession, but without the apostrophe.

Dangling participle or modifier

This one is in my top five favorites. It’s so easy to do, and not so easy to catch. The phrase at the beginning of the sentence (the modifier or participle) must describe the subject of the rest of the sentence. In this example, “After finishing a drink” must describe what comes next. But what comes next is the bartender. We left the modifier dangling in the wind.

Oxford comma

Another subject sure to stir up an hours-long Twitter argument is the Oxford comma. I, personally, am on Team Oxford. Not everyone agrees.


Homophones are words that sound the same but are spelled differently. I’ve recently seen both of these in work I edited (one was my own!)

He leaned over the railing, wretching miserably.  (should be retching)

The sound of morning doves filled the air. (should be mourning)

These are particularly pernicious because your spell check won’t catch them.

Who vs whom

“Who” is used when it’s the subject of the sentence. “Who was at the door?”

We use “whom” when it is the object, which we’re used to seeing in a prepositional phrase. “Never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

An easy test is to replace the word with he or him. If it makes sense when you say “he,” use “who.” If “him” works best, use “whom.” Try it. He was at the door. Never send to know for him the bell tolls. (Okay, not as obvious with whom, but using “he” always works.)

And we’re all going to pretend we didn’t notice the two (maybe three–my mind may be in the gutter on that third one) sexual innuendos.

Thanks, Weird Al, for making it okay for me to enjoy this song.

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