Monday, May 5, 2014

an open letter to planet fitness.

Mr. Chris Rondeau
CEO, Planet Fitness
113 Crosby Road, Suite 15
Newington, NH 03801

Dear Mr. Rondeau,

I'm a professional business writer and self-confessed grammar geek from Austin, Texas, and I'm writing to both express my distress about and request a couple of corrections to your company's marketing language.

I'm distressed about Planet Fitness' use of the phrase "Judgement Free Zone." While I understand and fully support your philosophy of offering an environment where gym members can exercise without feeling self-conscious, I must alert you to two blatant grammatical errors within the phrase "Judgement Free Zone."

Error #1: Misspelling of Judgement

In American English, judgement is generally considered a misspelling of judgment for all uses of the word. In British English, judgment was traditionally preferred, but judgement has gained popularity over the past couple of centuries, so today, both spellings are common – in Great Britain. There is a web-based myth that judgement was the original spelling and judgment is a 19th-century American invention; this is simply untrue.

Error #2: Lack of hyphenation between Judgment and Free

In the phrase "Judgement Free Zone," judgment and free work together as a single adjective describing zone: a zone that is free of judgment, or judgment-free. This compound modifier must be hyphenated. Without the hyphen, both judgment and free are working as separate adjectives, each describing zone – so you are effectively saying the zone is both a judgment zone [the opposite of your actual intention] and a free zone [wholly inaccurate, as your members all pay dues to work out in such a 'zone'].

I urge you, now armed with these corrections, to change your company's use of Judgement Free Zone to Judgment-Free Zone. Any company that can invent and trademark a clever term like lunk for its own marketing purposes can surely take care that all its marketing language is grammatically correct. Planet Fitness – the self-proclaimed "most innovative health club brand in the United States" – deserves no less.

Thank you in advance for your contribution to proper English use.

Best regards,
Kristen Card

Monday, April 28, 2014


this week, people magazine made oscar-winning actress
lupita nyong'o the cover girl for its annual 50 most beautiful issue.

she may not be the first person of color to hold this particular honor,
but she's definitely the first person of this particular color.

"what is fundamentally beautiful is compassion for yourself & for those around you,”
nyong'o said early this year. "that kind of beauty enflames the heart and enchants the soul.

“i hope my presence on your screens & in the magazines may lead you, young girl,
on a similar journey [as mine], that you will feel the validation of your external beauty,
but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside.
there is no shade to that beauty."

i hope ms. nyong'o knows it is not only young girls of dark beauty
whom she inspires. this middle-age white mama is moved by her, too.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

four sentences to joy.

i’m a big believer in the power of gratitude –
of practicing gratitude my own self, & of sharing my gratitude with the people who evoke it,
to lift them up with the knowledge & acknowledgement that what they were or did for me
made a positive difference. it mattered.

plus, expressing thanks is just good manners, y’all.
remember the essentials, please & thank you?
well, it seems to me that we’re currently living in a acquisition-centric culture
where please is the order of the day & thank you is wrongly losing rank.

for example, when’s the last time you wrote an actual pen-to-paper thank-you note?

no, the pen & the paper aren’t really the point.
but truly, isn’t a handwritten missive,
arriving in your metal mailbox via a human postal-carrier’s hand,
more meaningful than its e-quivalent?

yes. yes, it is.

so, just in case you may be a tad rusty,
here’s all you need to create a perfect thank-you note:

:: a small sheet of paper or notecard

:: a fitting envelope

:: a first-class stamp

:: a writing implement

:: someone to be thankful to for something, & his|her mailing address

:: a greeting – something like dear wendy, works perfectly.

:: sentence 1 – a statement of thanks for
whatever it is your grateful for, simple & straightforward.
thank you very much for the generous gift card you sent me for my birthday.

:: sentence 2 – say something about the item, deed, what have you,
that you especially appreciate. is my favorite spot to shop, so the gift card will
definitely be put to good use – maybe on several online occasions!

:: sentence 3 – say something about the person that you especially appreciate.
you’re such a kind & thoughtful gift-giver;
having someone like you remember & celebrate my birthday each year
really makes me feel like someone special.

:: sentence 4 – reiterate your thanks & add another personal note, if possible.
thanks again so much – i hope we can
catch up in person over the summer … over margaritas??

:: a closing – something like all the best, kristen works perfectly.

into the envelope, seal, stamp, address, mail. done & done.

& well done! you just added a dose of humanity &
a slice of joy to the world.

because gratitude begets joy.
put four sentences together today & make someone happy.

[regarding the image at the top: in 2010, canadian author yann martel
received a thoughtful thank-you note in response to his award-winning novel,
life of pi, from father of two & free-world leader barack obama.
this particular note doesn't follow my four-sentence formula,
but is a fine example of a beautifully & elegantly written thank-you nonetheless.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

happy easter day.

or, as my grandfather, pops, used to exclaim,
happy easter, egg!!

here's hoping yours is full of wholesome smiles,
cute little bunnies & chocolate, chocolate, chocolate.


Friday, April 18, 2014

have yourself a cozy little easter [egg].

truly, what is more uk-ier than an egg cosy?
well, other than a tea cosy. but so much less obvious.

tiny. whimsical. unnecessary. sort of froofy. oddly humorous.
they're like something a monty python sketch might revolve around.

nevertheless, they're out there, in many different iterations,
awaiting homes abundant with chilly soft-boiled eggs
for them to work their warming magic on.

here's a selection of egg cosies i found @,
ready for their biggest yearly season: easter.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

big finish.

performance poet jesse parent,
addressing his namesake issue – parenting – particularly of a daughter,
at the 2013 salt city slam team selection finals.

watch it all the way through – the punchline really delivers.