What it WAS, was a warning…

Survival would be impossible in this doggy-dog world without friends to give us a heads-up when danger approaches. Here’s one I got today:

I have eight tickets for
this Saturday’s football game –  and we are making them available for members
of Senior Staff to purchase if any of you are interested.
First come, first served. 
Email me back.  The tickets are $35 each. 

Of course, as a veteran of 20 years of this craziness, I knew just what to do. I immediately scribbled,

(note to self: Don’t try to come in to work this

Without such an early-warning system, things could get ugly

10 thoughts on “What it WAS, was a warning…

  1. weldon VII

    I hope you meant survival wouldn’t be possible or would be difficult above, but that isn’t what you wrote.
    Still, how could you be dependent on the offer of tickets to notify you Carolina has a game Saturday? The State has been kissing up to USC’s latest football messiah for the past two months, on the front page, as often as not.

  2. weldon VII

    And now, today’s grammar (punctuation) question.
    I seem to remember being taught somewhere along the line never to separate verb and subject with a comma. Two commas, yes, as “Brad, the op-ed boss, cracked the whip cruelly on his thoughtless flunkies.”
    But not just one, as in “What it was, was a warning.”
    Mind you, I realize that when an entire sentence becomes a subject, putting two verbs (or the same verb) in succession, we tend to divide that bothersome repetition with a comma, but I have never found written anywhere a rule that suggests or dictates that.
    Very late in the game, therefore, my question is, is the comma necessary?

  3. Brad Warthen

    Thanks, Scott — I’m glad you got the point.
    Weldon, believe it or not, that was the first moment I fully realized just how soon football was descending upon us. I don’t read stories about football, and as you suggest (although in different language) football news is with us always. I sort of need a nudge — such as this memo — to tell me that we’re talking NOW.

  4. Brad Warthen

    Weldon, it was an allusion (not an illusion, mind you) to the famous Andy Griffith comedy routine, "What It Was, Was Football."

    Argue with Andy, or whoever first wrote the title down. There is a certain use of poetic license here — the comma is used to express an interval between the first and second "was" that isn’t quite of either ellipses- or dash-length. You can’t justify it by citing rules, but you can hear it when he says it.

    I kept the punctuation to make the allusion clear. I linked to a recording of the routine on YouTube to remove any doubt.

    That’s about all I can say in my defense.

  5. Karen McLeod

    While I enjoy Gamecock football (by the way, does anyone know where I can get an ‘autographed’ poster of Cocky?) since I live in the Olympia area, I will celebrate the first home game by getting completely out of town.

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