Many eyebrows were arched after the National Weather Service designated the winter storm currently laying siege to the northeastern United States as a "crippling and potentially historic blizzard." As both the storm and the fear of it spread, inspiring travel bans across city and state levels, the potentially historic language crept its way into a number of reports.
The only problem, assuming you're a grammar purist or a literalist, is that everything is potentially historic, right? And so, the language is fated to annoy those who may be listening too closely. The blizzard and the overly observational set together formed their own perfect storm when comedian Louis C.K. had to cancel his Madison Square Garden show, slated for Tuesday, because of said historic weather.
In an apology letter to those who bought tickets, the comedian took a shot at the many who had been clumsy with language. He writes:
Hi. It’s Louis CK here to make sure everyone knows that my show tomorrow at Madison Square Garden has been canceled. All ticket holders will automatically get a refund. I am really sorry about this and I am surprised to learn as I write this that there is only one L in the word canceled. I’ll have to take my phone’s word for it. But it doesn’t look right to me.
In any case, there seems to be a massive storm approaching New York City. They are calling this storm “historic” which…. Well I didn’t know you could call a thing historic if it hasn’t happened yet. But I’m not one to defy future historic events. And I have to be respectful of the responsibility I have to the 15,000 people who are holding tickets to the show and could be stranded somewhere historically trying to get to or from my show. I think it’s clearly better that I alter history in the name of safety and cancel. Besides, if you’ve ever tried to get your deposit back when you rent a banquet hall for a wedding that gets snowed out, you don’t want to even know what the deposit is on Madison Square Jesus Christing Garden is.
So. No show. I will be on Letterman tonight, though. So you can yell boo right at my stupid and very handsome face on your tv screen or on your paper towel or your watch or whatever you view Letterman on.
Also I will be contacting you very soon about my new standup special which will be historically available only on my website louisck.net very soon.
I really want to thank everyone who came to the shows at MSG. It was an incredible experience. The audiences were great. And the crew at MSG is classy and professional.
Okay. That’s it. I have to do some laundry now.
Take care of yourself and don’t be a jerk to people.
Stuck between warning appropriately and perhaps inciting too much fear, how the National Weather Service chose its descriptors for the Great Blizzard of 2015 remains, for now, a mystery. (Presumably up to more important things, the National Weather Service did not immediately reply to a request for a comment from The Atlantic.)
In the meantime, Louis C.K. isn't the only act to be plowed by the weather. Both of Monday's home games for the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets were canceled due to the winter storm. Given the teams' records this year, that may have been an act of mercy.