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Where's on first



"The employee/nurse, who didn't want to comment when contacted afterward by a Kansas City newspaper, did enough to where the girl was breathing and awake upon leaving the baseball stadium."

The to where is a nonstandard, country way of talking, not approved for, and usually not seen in, the newspaper. Where denotes location, not condition. "The nurse did enough so that the girl was breathing and awake ... "

"N.Y.C. Mayor Sent Poisonous Letters." Not the sort of conduct you'd expect from a high public official. I wonder who he sent those toxic communications to. Bothersome journalists, perhaps.

But really, the mayor of New York didn't send poisonous letters to anybody. He received ("was sent") poisonous letters. Headline writing is a special kind of writing, and sometimes you can get by with assuming that a verb will be understood by the reader even if it's not spelled out. But when you end up with a head that literally says exactly the opposite of what you wanted to say, you'd better rewrite.

Another question: Whoever sent them, were those letters poisonous or poisoned? The two words don't always mean the same thing; a poisonous snake is different from a poisoned snake, and you'd better not forget it. In the case of the letters, I think either modifier would do. Poisonous is an adjective that means "full of or containing poison." Poisoned is the past tense of a verb that means "to put poison into or upon."

"Generally what happens is that, especially as horses are getting more and more lightly raced, they're still on the improve – more often, I think, now than they used to be." On the improve? "Improving" would be shorter and simpler.

"THE BLOOD BEAST TERROR – In this gory thriller by legendary director Vernon Sewell, a crazed etymologist dabbles in gruesome experiments that turn his beautiful daughter into a vampire beast with an insatiable lust for blood." Having done a little crazed etymological dabbling myself, and produced no vampire beasts, I'd bet the father in this movie is an entomologist.

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