Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Deep Thoughts* and Burning Questions

*I'm no Jack Handy, but I hope this will at least make you chuckle, giggle, snort or smile.

I like to think I am at least somewhat witty. I've filled this blog with medical based posts, unsolicited advice and opinions, tributes, etc. Most of my posts are laced with at least some snark/humor/failed attempts at wit. So, please consider this post an attempt at all out humor and wit.

If you heckle me, I'll go Louis on you okay?

How do actors get paid? No, really? This is something I think about probably more than one person should spend time thinking about. Does Tom Cruise get a giant multi-million dollar check at the wrap of a film? "To the bank, Jeeves!" and then a deposit? Or better yet, do they have direct deposit? I'm sure there's royalties on stuff; RDJ probably makes BANK on sales of Iron Man action figures. Does a $.03 deposit get made to his bank account every time someone buys one? I'm sure this all depends on what level of celebrity you are. My friend Louis up there probably gets handed some cash at the end of a set. The likes of Pitt, Clooney, Hanks, Jolie, Aniston et. al likely don't get cash in hand...right? They likely have a money manager/accountant. Do they get an allowance? "Mr. Damon, here is your daily $3000 allotment. Don't spend it all in one place like last time. No one needs that many NERF guns."

More specifically, color namers. Somewhere out there, at paint companies, fabric/furniture companies, clothing companies, people are PAID to come up with the names of colors. Gone are the days of ROYGBIV and primary colors. We painted our bathroom "Down Feathers" and "Peach Smoothie." Ethan brought home his color swatch kits from the firm. We were looking for a nice green. I suddenly became overwhelmed with the 25 shades of green, ranging from "Quiet Meadow" to "Mint Julep" to "Dark Forest." How does one get the job of being the "decider" of color names? Art students? Starving artists? Wordsmiths? I am certain that people receive a PAYCHECK to decide what to call a shade of light red. I don't think anyone would want me to name colors. A strip of reds would probably say:

Dark Red
Light Red
Still Red
Less Red
Are you blind these are all the same Red.
And why aren't some just realistic? "This looks great on the swatch but will turn out to be the shade of baby diarrhea
when it dries Yellow."


"The enemy of my enemy is my friend." NO. The enemy of my enemy is person #2 who hates my enemy. I therefore want nothing to do with either of them. 

"I'll tell you when you're older." I heard this as a kid, I am sure we all did. But you might as well tell them now. What they dream up in their head is probably worse than the information they want to know.

"Don't judge a book by its cover." As related to looking at humans, sure. Absolutely. But actual books? If the cover art blows, the title is purposefully/ironically misspelled (Kid's Korner Krafts), the author is someone I hate, or any combination of the three, you bet your spectacles I am judging it by its cover. 

Okay, I read these, but you see my point

I'm still trying to understand hipsters. Naturally, I started here. Correct me if I am wrong, but when I was younger, all the stuff that makes one a "hipster" these days is what used to be made fun of endlessly. I've had glasses, enjoyed books, wore band t-shirts (okay, it was Hanson. Shoot me) when I was in middle/high school. I lived an "alternative lifestyle." The 'alternative' to rich/athletic/popular is poor/uncoordinated/nerdy. I had 'hipster glasses' before they were known as such. Are hipsters cool? Not cool? Prefer to be unclassified? Enlighten me. Do hipster teenagers get made fun of in school? Are they the top of the food chain now? 

What if the cultural norm for urination/defecation were going outside, like animals? Would it seem gross if we had never known otherwise? Who decided we needed a special room & porcelain receptacle? 

I have two webbed toes on each foot. Dave Letterman has two webbed fingers on one hand. Long lost relatives?

"The early bird gets the worm." Only if there's enough worms. And it's not winter. And a fisherman didn't get there first.

It is now acceptable to be a "cat lady." True story. A bunch of my Twitter followers are cat ladies. Or maybe it's just acceptable to us, but since we ban together, we know no different. 

Rainy Snowy days and Mondays always get me down.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Grammar Hound

Disclaimer: This post in no way is meant to condemn, offend, or personally attack anyone. It is about the big picture message and is simply my opinion. If it comes off as snobby, then it may well be. I have a B.A. in English and I take language very seriously.

This weekend, in my just-opened-my-eyes-but-still-in-bed stupor, I posted a mini-rant about those Facebook memes floating around that say things like “Name a city in Pennsylvania that doesn’t have the letter ‘e’ in it.” I’ve seen these for movie titles, states, songs, animals, etc.  A lot of times, they look like the one below:

Django Unchained, The Change Up (c'mon, make it a challenge)

I saw one yesterday that had a little anecdote added: “this ones really tricky guys ;)” {sic}. I think it was name a fish without the letter ‘a’ in it (flounder, monkfish). What are these little memes trying to prove? The one above lacks proper capitalization and punctuation. The grammar is often incorrect. Usually, they have THOUSANDS of comments in response. Maybe it speaks to the limited vocabulary of some?  It makes me wonder about the person(s) who created these. Do they really think they’ve created a stumper? For them, maybe something like this is hard. Does reading a thousand answers and “this isn’t that hard dummy” (an actual comment on one post) gnaw at their self-esteem? I think some may just be trying to get a response, to garner X number of shares/comments/likes. But if you’re going to post something about words, at least spell everything correctly and use proper grammar.

Side note, I often see comments on these along the lines of “some ppl on here can’t use grammer,” {sic} and a little piece of me dies inside. I saw one of these that said "name words that use all the vowels" and waaay too many comments were "what are vowels?" I wept. 

THIS. Thanks Mark.

The larger point I am getting to is about the breakdown in language and lack of vocabulary that I am witnessing on a daily basis. Even with the sometimes annoying and always hilarious invention of auto-correct, I see posts, statuses, texts and even professional e-mails at work that are misspelled, under punctuated and filled with “lols” and short-hand. I gave up auto-correct as a means to a) see if I could get away from the crutch and b) remind myself of the value of typing/texting etc. without spelling assistance. It was hard for approximately one day. I won’t lie- that assuming the word you want thing is pretty handy for typing speedily. It was also hilarious when auto-correct robot got it wrong. But I no longer need it.  It is a great necessary tool for many and yet, I see so many mistakes and so much short hand that sometimes posts are not even readable.

Funny! damnyouautocorrect.com
My teacher friends can speak to this; I don’t think educators have stopped teaching proper spelling, grammar and punctuation. Nor have they stopped teaching essential vocabulary words.There are a wealth of amazing teachers out there (Emily, I STILL think about the skunk and the pumpkin when I am trying to remember prepositions) who teach the basics and teach well. So what’s happening? Has the internet ruined it all? For as long as I can remember, even all the way back to AOL Instant Messenger (throwback!) I have always typed/written with proper capitalization, punctuation and spelling (or always tried to and naturally got better at it with age and education). I rarely use short hand. People argue speed, but it actually takes me longer to do all the short hand stuff. I am wired to do it correctly. Many of my friends are the same. I have FB friends (who shall remain anonymous) who post statuses that are so short handed, so misspelled and under-punctuated that I cannot even understand what they are saying. I have to read it 3 or 4 times to get the gist. And then, people comment/react (much in the same shorthand manner) like they totally get it. So what’s different? Who or what is to blame?

It's not right to write before you're sure your writing is right.
Before you say “oh it’s just FB or chat or texting etc.” let me tell you something. I work with graduate students, most of whom are adults 30+ years old. I think my oldest student is 65-6. I get e-mails daily that are hard to read due to misspelling and poor grammar. From GRADUATE students. They are professional students, writing to academic and administrative professionals. Why is this okay? There have been times I have wanted to write back to them “I cannot answer this message until you use proper spelling and grammar, and then I’d be happy to help you,” but alas, that would not go over well. I’ve seen letters of appeal that I want to attack with my red pen. When working in the writing center when I was attending college, I would see papers, academic papers, with “r” in place of are and lol, and mix-ups of there, their, and they’re and you’re and your etc.  

What I am talking about here isn’t the occasional typo or spelling error or lack of grammar (we’re all guilty from time to time). I’m talking about the chronic communication problem. Granted, in many cases I only see what someone posts on FB- maybe they are better, more serious writers off the social media landscape. But what if they aren’t? And don’t you want to represent yourself in the best possible light? As mentioned before, I see this issue in e-mails and papers and all manners of communication I encounter. And I think it’s getting worse.

We could blame technology, which I think plays a huge role. Our faces are more or less always stuck in front of a screen. We use the internet for fun, for work, for learning. Sure, maybe it’s easy to get ‘lazy’ and shorten everything on FB. But don’t you want it to be the best representation of yourself? Employers look at this stuff, guys. And maybe to some, language and communication are not as valuable; why take the time to learn spelling and grammar and punctuation when auto-correct does it for us? What would happen if technology broke down, a la ABC’s Revolution, etc. and we needed to communicate? In the event of a technology ‘blackout’ or zombie apocalypse, I know I want to be able to leave clear messages to fellow survivors. You know what they say about Uncle Jack, horses, and punctuation.

But maybe something else is to blame. Maybe we just need to make a little more time for each other (sans screens) and a little more time for putting our best selves forward, whether that means dressing to impress, writing correctly, or smiling at strangers. Either way, you’ll feel and look a lot more hip.