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'Grammar Vigilante' Is Correcting Street Signs, One Apostrophe at a Time

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When bad punctuation strikes storefront signage in Bristol, England, a self-styled apostrophe avenger springs into action. The BBC reports that an unidentified man has spent years venturing out at night to correct infractions against the English language spotted in public street and retail signs.

Although the man holds grudges against all forms of errant punctuation, he spends most of his time addressing wayward apostrophes using a tool he built himself. Dubbed the “apostrophiser,” it can either add or subtract apostrophes from signs, depending on the correction needed, using adhesive tape. He also carries a ladder.

Often referred to as "the Banksy of punctuation," this human version of Wite-Out says he was lured into a life of mildly invasive graffiti when he decided to scratch out a misplaced apostrophe on a whim in 2003. “It was a council sign—Mondays to Fridays—and had these ridiculous apostrophes,” he said. “I was able to scratch those off.”

Jon Kay via Twitter

While some businesses appreciate the unsolicited correction, others consider the forced changes rude. A shop called Tux & Tails previously identified itself as a “Gentlemans Outfitters” before the rogue corrected it to “Gentleman’s Outfitters.” Owner Jason Singh says the defacing of the sign could cost him thousands of dollars to fix because the paint the man used isn’t meshing well with the vinyl surface. Singh promises to bill the vigilante for the damage if he ever learns his identity.

The BBC did not reveal the man’s name, nor did they appear to hand over any information to authorities. Despite the sketchy legal nature of his work, the vigilante said it was “more of a crime” to leave the incorrect punctuation standing. A half-hour BBC Radio 4 documentary on his work aired on Monday.

The Bristol vigilante isn’t the first of his kind: Two anonymous artists in Quito, Ecuador, have been correcting that city’s graffiti for years, using red spray paint to point out spelling and grammar mistakes. Known as Acción Ortográfica Quito (Quito Orthographic Action), they’ve inspired a rash of imitators worldwide. All of which is good reason to hire a copyeditor before you write in public.

[h/t BBC]

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Ape Meets Girl
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Pop Culture
Epic Gremlins Poster Contains More Than 80 References to Classic Movies
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Ape Meets Girl

It’s easy to see why Gremlins (1984) appeals to movie nerds. Executive produced by Steven Spielberg and written by Chris Columbus, the film has horror, humor, and awesome 1980s special effects that strike a balance between campy and creepy. Perhaps it’s the movie’s status as a pop culture treasure that inspired artist Kevin Wilson to make it the center of his epic hidden-image puzzle of movie references.

According to io9, Wilson, who works under the pseudonym Ape Meets Girl, has hidden 84 nods to different movies in this Gremlins poster. The scene is taken from the movie’s opening, when Randall enters a shop in Chinatown looking for a gift for his son and leaves with a mysterious creature. Like in the film, Mr. Wing’s shop in the poster is filled with mysterious artifacts, but look closely and you’ll find some objects that look familiar. Tucked onto the bottom shelf is a Chucky doll from Child’s Play (1988); above Randall’s head is a plank of wood from the Orca ship made famous by Jaws (1975); behind Mr. Wing’s counter, which is draped with a rug from The Shining’s (1980) Overlook Hotel, is the painting of Vigo the Carpathian from Ghostbusters II (1989). The poster was released by the Hero Complex Gallery at New York Comic Con earlier this month.

“Early on, myself and HCG had talked about having a few '80s Easter Eggs, but as we started making a list it got longer and longer,” Wilson told Mental Floss. “It soon expanded from '80s to any prop or McGuffin that would fit the curio shop setting. I had to stop somewhere so I stopped at 84, the year Gremlins was released. Since then I’ve thought of dozens more I wish I’d included.”

The ambitious artwork has already sold out, but fortunately cinema buffs can take as much time as they like scouring the poster from their computers. Once you think you’ve found all the references you can possibly find, you can check out Wilson’s key below to see what you missed (and yes, he already knows No. 1 should be Clash of the Titans [1981], not Jason and the Argonauts [1963]). For more pop culture-inspired art, follow Ape Meets Girl on Facebook and Instagram.

Key for hidden image puzzle.
Ape Meets Girl

[h/t io9]

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Kehinde Wiley Studio, Inc., Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
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presidents
Barack Obama Taps Kehinde Wiley to Paint His Official Presidential Portrait
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Kehinde Wiley
Kehinde Wiley Studio, Inc., Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Kehinde Wiley, an American artist known for his grand portraits of African-American subjects, has painted Michael Jackson, Ice-T, and The Notorious B.I.G. in his work. Now the artist will have the honor of adding Barack Obama to that list. According to the Smithsonian, the former president has selected Wiley to paint his official presidential portrait, which will hang in the National Portrait Gallery.

Wiley’s portraits typically depict black people in powerful poses. Sometimes he models his work after classic paintings, as was the case with "Napoleon Leading the Army Over the Alps.” The subjects are often dressed in hip-hop-style clothing and placed against decorative backdrops.

Portrait by Kehinde Wiley
"Le Roi a la Chasse"
Kehinde Wiley, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0

Smithsonian also announced that Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald has been chosen by former first lady Michelle Obama to paint her portrait for the gallery. Like Wiley, Sherald uses her work to challenge stereotypes of African-Americans in art.

“The Portrait Gallery is absolutely delighted that Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald have agreed to create the official portraits of our former president and first lady,” Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery, said in a press release. “Both have achieved enormous success as artists, but even more, they make art that reflects the power and potential of portraiture in the 21st century.”

The tradition of the president and first lady posing for portraits for the National Portrait Gallery dates back to George H.W. Bush. Both Wiley’s and Sherald’s pieces will be revealed in early 2018 as permanent additions to the gallery in Washington, D.C.

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