Our local television station has a “Morning Mind Bender” feature each morning. They ask a question and everyone in the news room guesses it, viewers can call in the answer to be entered for a prize, and then they give the answer at the end of the morning news. My mother watches this, along with Jeopardy, every day.
This week, my mom and I ran errands together. Specifically errands concerning settling my grandfather’s estate and setting up care for my grandmother. At one point, my mom turned to me to say: The Morning Mind Bender so greatly offended me yesterday, I emailed KNWA.
I guess to really understand how shocking this news truly was, you have to know my mother is a Luddite. She only started texting five years ago when all of her best friends made a joint commitment to text instead of call her. She only got email about six months ago when I set it up for her and specifically put it on her phone, then showed her how to use it. She still doesn’t have Facebook or any other online accounts. But bad grammar and misinformation is enough to make the woman email the television station. Apparently.
The question was:
What was Mark Twains penname?
B. Samuel Clemens
The points of offense?
1. No apostrophe was used in “Twain’s.”
2. They did not put a space in “pen name.”
3.Twain was Clemens’ pen name, not the other way around.
If you ever wondered how someone grows up to become an editor? Listening to your mother read Shakespeare to you at six helps. Having her tell you every time she harangues some employee somewhere for simple grammar mistakes helps even more. I may or may not have called up a detail shop for misspelling “vaccumm” on their sign once. I’m not like my mother at all.
But the conversation made me start thinking about non de plumes. As an author, do you use one or more? (I have one that I publish children’s poetry under.) What is your favorite famous pen name? (Personally, I like Silence Dogood the best.) I’d love to know the record for the author with the most non de plumes. I think I’ll go look that up now…