Into the "Beefs" file his fingers slip, and out they come with complaints about . . . .
TELEVISION: Why, asks Charles Stewart of Northwest, do so many local newscasters pronounce the T in the word "often"?
I suspect they think they're dressing up an ordinary word in its Sunday best, Charles. They ought to keep in mind that, if silence is golden, silent T's are platinum. Are you listening, Gloria Gibson?
From Ruby M. Thornton of Northeast comes this: Why do TV interviewers "ask a question of the guest and then interrupt before the answer is completed?"
Ruby calls this habit rude. I call that an understatement. How about it, Lea Thompson and Henry Tenenbaum?
This environmentally conscious beef comes from Charles P. Rufe of Waynesboro, Va.:
"You're watching TV. A commercial comes on. The scene is bucolic. A couple of good ole boys is fishin' on a clear, clean lake on a beautiful day. To enhance their good vibes, the good ole boys take out their chaw package and start chewin' up.
"But what happens to the juice?
"I feel insulted and offended by this kind of commercial. Do others?"
At least one other, Charles: the guy in this corner.
LANGUAGE: Dianna Sakacs of Lanham would like it to be known that the University of Maryland Terrapins do not play basketball in Cold Feel House.
Marion Wellman of Harpers Ferry, W. Va., points out that she lives in America, not Uh-MURR-ick-uh, regardless of what NBC's Ed McMahon may say -- and say -- and say.
Meanwhile, Gerry Bayless of Rockville notes that there's no such thing as 12 o'clock a.m. or p.m. It's noon or midnight -- period.
COMMERCE: Mary Fawcett of Boyds, Md., says her biggest beef is a "waiter or waitress who reacts disagreeably when you turn down his suggestion of a cocktail or wine." Amen, Mary. It's true that alcohol brings servers a large hunk of their tips. But they ought to keep frowns and scowls to themselves.
Susan Rosenbluth of Reston files a beef about phone solicitors who open with, "Hello, is this Jane Jones? Good. And how are you today?"
"I resent the implication that they even care about my state of being," Susan writes.
I not only resent it, Susan; I doubt it.
URBAN MOTORING LIFE: Ruth L. of Northwest beefs about "the fellow who is second in line on one side of a four-way stop, and who thinks he is entitled to go when the car in front of him goes."
Ellen M. Rafferty of Falls Church beefs that during rush hours, on one-way streets downtown, one truck will park in the right lane to make his delivery, and a second will park in the left lane to make his. Result: clog and clutter.
"Can't they both park on the same side?" asks Ellen.
And finally . . . . ...
THE WASHINGTON POST: "Why, oh, why," asks Betty Cohen of Falls Church, "are the comics (including the crossword and your column) in a different section each day? . . . . Use your influence to correct this gripe and make a reader happy."
Levey has influence?
The only scribes around here with influence, Betty, are those whose work ends up on page one. My work might end up on page B16 on a good day. Once (last November, I think it was) they thought so much of my influence that my deathless prose was on page G64.
G64! It sounds like a number in Bingo.
I had about as much influence that day as the garage sale ads -- which, come to think of it, were my closest neighbors.
Anyway, the production poohbahs around here have all the influence, Betty, and they have this answer:
The comics pages jump around from day to day because our main sections (Style, Sports, Metro, etc.) vary considerably in size from day to day. Whichever is the thinnest of the lot usually gets the comics pages tacked onto the back of it. That keeps section thicknesses as close to uniform as possible, which in turn makes it easier and faster to get the paper on and off the presses.