grammar can hurt, but don't take italics so personally

i love grammar.
UNDERPANTS. did that keep you from clicking away? it works on my kids.

for instance, i love people who know how to use "whom." in fact, those are people for whom i have great affection.

also, i've noticed people ignore the semicolon; the semicolon is your friend.

there are other tools people neglect:  the colon; the comma; and the dash (see what i did there with that colon?)

...ellipses...are... my...favorite...tool..
they help you tell funny jokes...(wait for it)...damn funny ones.
see? they give you that "beat" before the whammy. and i have great respect for people who use the beat and the whammy correctly.

on a side note, i don't care about capital letters too much. they seem so aggressive.
i love ee cummings.  he was a lowercase sweetie.
EGAD! HOW COULD SHE NOT CARE ABOUT CAPITALS?! okay, i guess i like them for expressing outrage.

today, however, is an ode to italics. you can change an entire sentence depending on their location. i think people speak to us using italics in one place,but we hear the italics in the wrong place. sometimes we change the placement and punish ourselves with the italics in a way the speaker never intended.

let me give you an example:
"pam, you always have something funny to say." innocuous, right?
my interpretation:
"pam, you always have something funny to say." (i.e., does it ever stop?)
or "pam, you always have something funny to say." (i.e., it may not be funny, but there's no dead air.)
or "pam, you always have something funny to say." (i.e., so, so verbal, Honey.  may i offer you a lozenge?)

don't beat yourself with the hairshirt of italics friends. people probably don't mean much by the italics you think you heard. even if the italics were there, just tell yourself most people don't know how to use them anyway. because, as steve martin says, "some people have a way with words...other people not have way."