For Some, Language is the Sum of its Parts.
I've been writing back and forth with a Mizzou professor about the changing English language. It's been a fun conversation, and it's gotten me thinking quite a bit. So when I saw Sally's most recent post about her complaint letter to Pringles for using the word "less" when the company meant "fewer," I thought it would be a good time to share my opinions on the subject of grammatical correctness.
The English language is changing, as it has been for the last millennium. This is indisputable. So as important as correct grammar is -- and it is important -- it's also crucial that we try to have a hand in its evolution and not refuse to be any part of it on the grounds that it's improper to be malleable with something so sacred.
Can you imagine what English speakers from Shakespeare's time would think of how we talk today? Methinks they'd bite their thumbs at and pout'st upon our puddled language. Regardless, it's foolish to assume that at any time there was some magical, uniform language and that we're the first generation to foul things up.
It's also naive to assume that years from now, even if we were to criminalize poor grammar, people will still be speaking the same way our fourth-grade teachers insisted upon. Language's only real function is as a tool to communicate. As long as we're still able to communicate effectively, why is it so important that it be sacrosanct?
From what I can tell, the only thing most grammar Nazis (for the most part, I use the term lovingly) can glean from another's use of grammar is if that person's a moron or not. If that's the case, shouldn't we encourage people to speak as naturally as possible to keep those class lines drawn? Isn't that the goal -- to be able to differentiate between us (the well-spoken, educated ones) and them (the ignorant, uneducated ones)? I'm sure this will draw plenty of ire, but mustn't that be the subconscious desire of most grammarphiles? Just read this infuriating and borderline-racist attempt at humor -- surprisingly from the unaffected New York Times -- and it's clear how smug and aristocratic the educated can be about language.
It's quite difficult for me to buy into the theory that some of us love our language so selflessly that we want to protect it at all costs against daytime talk show guests and other inarticulate heathens. In some cases, the rules are the heart and soul; the game of baseball immediately comes to mind. But in other cases -- such as religion and, yes, language -- one has to see beauty in the essence or risk succumbing to the smokescreen of minutia.
08-31-2005 9:29 AM - comments (1)
"Good Things Can Happen in This World."
My car insurance dropped from $137 to $104 after I informed Progressive I was moving to Brentwood from the city.
I've got the craziest urge to watch "Office Space" for the 97th time.
08-26-2005 11:01 AM - comments (3)
Happy Birthday, Jen!
Hope your 24th year will be your best yet.
08-23-2005 5:35 PM - comments (1)
Yeah, just a one-word header.
I started a comment in response to one of Clare's IKEA posts, but it approached the four-paragraph mark, which is the sign that it deserves its own (entirely self-indulgent) post.
Like Clare, I am an IKEA addict. Like Clare, I spent weeks poring over the catalog in anticipation of my trip there to furnish what would be my first apartment of my own. Hopefully unlike Clare, I put myself in significant credit card debt after my five-hour trip to the Scandanavian superstore.
When I was in Houston a week and a half ago, I made sure to drag my parents back. I needed new dishes, after all. New dishes turned into $250 worth of stuff, as I might have predicted if I had wanted to be honest. But the parents were (mostly) paying, so it worked out.
Because I love browsing the IKEA website so much, I thought it would be fun (OK, lame) for me to try to find all of the stuff I've gotten from there over the years -- or my two visits, whichever you prefer --and link to it.
Klippan sofa with blue slipcover (I've gone from turquoise to pink to "natural")
Lime green pillows -- who knows where these are
Armchair with polka dotted slipcover
Leksvik coffee table
Leksvik entertainment center
Leksvik bookcase -- ours is a smaller, three-shelf version of this one
Pale blue plates with skinny white concentric circles
Small matching bowls
Large asymetrical gray serving bowls
Trapezoidal gray side plates
Asian miso soup set (I had to get one after getting one for Jen for her birthday -- hey, it's called Present. And lest you think I'm cheap, it cost a bit more in the store than the site would have you believe. Jen, you believe me, right?)
Rectangular gray glass cups
Ice cube trays (with up arrows and plus signs)
Oven mitts and dish towels
Kitchen table and chairs
Grey striped placemats
Decorative mirrors with pale blue frames
Leksvik side table -- they don't appear to sell this anymore
Matching mirror (on dresser
Lamp with white shade with cut-out flowers and black metal base -- they don't sell this anymore
Lime green and blue shower curtain
Lime green toilet brush/holder
Leskvik computer desk
Larger Leskvik bookcase
Noresund wall mirror
08-23-2005 4:01 PM - comments (3)
Trying to Move On.
I'm so tired of dealing with incompetence in my daily life, and this time I mean other than my own. Embassy Apartments, where I used to live, is claiming I owe them rent for the entire month of September, even though my lease began on Sept. 18, 2004 (approximately; I need to check my records to verify this).
Embassy, i.e. MBP Management, is also saying I didn't give 30 days written notice -- which is true -- but I did give verbal notice to the concierge/manager the day before I moved out last week, Aug. 17. If I were required to also give written notice, shouldn't the manager have told me at that point that verbal notice wouldn't be sufficient?
I have never heard of a lease that goes for 377 days, and I refuse to pay the entire month's rent because they can't get their act together. These are the same people who promised me an apartment on Sept. 11, 2004, and then after I signed the lease and gave notice to my former landlord, they told me the tenant wouldn't be moving out until a few days after my new lease was to begin. I was, as they say, homeless -- and stuck with an apartment's worth of stuff and nowhere to put it.
To make amends, MBP offered to store my things in a seventh-floor room of the Embassy until I was able to move into the apartment. That was acceptable until, when it came time for moving day, no one was at the Embassy to open the gate as promised.
So Michael had to oversee the (much more costly) move on Monday because I couldn't take time off of work. MBP credited my first month's rent with the difference between what I paid with the expensive, last-minute movers and what I would have paid with the original moving company, but they were, weirdly enough, terrifically rude about the whole ordeal.
Can anyone offer some insight into my original complaint? Shouldn't giving verbal notice to the manager count for something? Why would I have to pay for the entire month of September if my lease didn't begin on Oct. 1, 2004?
08-23-2005 10:32 AM - comments (2)
A Life Less Cinematic.
We couldn't stop talking about it yesterday. Our new apartment. I marveled walking in. I marveled walking out. I marveled at the patio, the mailbox, the living room, the view of the fountain and the pond. I even marveled when a wasp flew into Michael's eye before remembering that marveling is the entirely wrong feeling when wasp stings are imminent.
We were both seized with big, scary feelings throughout the day, but I took that to be normal. Any major change will cost something. And the marveling was really just a lead-up to the denouement, which hit me with sudden force in the networking aisle of Best Buy at 7:30 last night. I was struck with the idea that though we are two completely different people, I am as comfortable around him as I am by myself. I talk and I think aloud and I behave as if there's no one around.
And all the feminists will wail that I have lost myself and that not knowing where one person begins and the other one ends is a slap in the face to individuality and the women's rights movement and democracy and just-short-of-Ayn-Rand capitalism. They're basing these opinions on exaggerations and predicted behaviors instead of on the reality of intimacy.
I question the legitimacy of discarding intimacy for alienation, as so many good independent movies do nowadays. To critics, loneliness is more compelling than a meaningful connection, and meaning to them usually involves a plaintive, fluttering Scarlett or Maggie or Natalie as the object of our affections. The rub is, of course, that she can never be ours; blame it on the fluttering. In film, moments -- of rejection and desire alike -- are more beautiful than life. But in life, and in my life specifically, that couldn't be farther from the truth. In life, Frou Frou is not oozing from invisible speakers, rubbing salt into our artificial, film-induced wounds.
I am not fluttering, but I can be plaintive, and mostly, I am here to stay. There is no joy in unrequited love. There is no beauty in heartbreak, at least not for me anymore. This is the underlying beauty now for me: A best friend who doubles as my other, a commitment without misery and artful love without artful irony. (Most of the time, anyway. Nothing can survive an irony free existence.)
So while Michael was reading the specs on the backs of wireless router boxes, I wrapped my arms around him and squeezed harder than I should have. I heard not the opening notes of the gauzy "Let Go," but the sound of a Best Buy employee asking the guy next to us if he needed help. I think I may have heard "You Shook Me All Night Long" coming from the stereo section. And I have to say, I'm pretty pleased with how it all came together.
08-19-2005 2:21 PM - comments (4)
Four Minutes to Go.
Disclaimer: Packing a thousand million boxes of things is made easier with a friend who brings frozen vodka and pickled tomatoes. That's not to say it's finished or will be by the 8 a.m. deadline.
Six or seven years later, "Take My Picture" is still a fairly amazing song, gotta say. Listening to its backstory is about half as disillusioning as seeing photos of Thom Yorke or reading Billy Corgan's blog, and then you remember the whole screaming-cliches-thing the guy from Filter specialized in.
08-17-2005 11:05 PM - comments (1)
I'm back from Houston. A great trip until they lost all of my luggage (until it's recovered, I'm considering it as such). Update to follow.
08-15-2005 7:51 AM - comments (1)
SPOILER: "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince."
Do not read any further if you haven't read the new Harry Potter book but plan on doing so (though by this point, there shouldn't be many of you).
I'm sorry to just now be getting to this, but I've been busy readying for my move and TCB, as they say. Here are my impressions of the sixth installment of J.K. Rowling's series:
Impression 1: No way is Dumbledore actually dead. Rowling wouldn't kill him off in such a hasty, undignified way. No way is Snape really working for Voldemort and responsible for Dumbledore's death; Dumbledore made too big a deal about his faith in Snape. Obviously, the death was faked, which has two distinct benefits: it gives Voldemort the impression Harry's last meaningful advocate is no longer there to protect him, and it cements Snape's devotion to Voldemort, which has been called into question. Either Dumbledore will turn up alive in Book Seven, or some phoenix-rising-from-the-ashes (symbolism alluded to in most of the books)/Gandalf the Grey/Obi-Wan Kenobi thing will take place.
Impression 2: Harry and Neville were switched at birth. I (just now) realized Neville's birthday is a day before Harry's, and we all know stumbling, doofy Neville is going to turn out to be a hero; he's already demonstrated some signs of this. And either Neville or Harry will be found out to be the son of Voldemort.
08-08-2005 3:46 PM - comments (3)
Cover Girl Coverup.
-Katharine Harris is claiming newspapers doctored, er, "colorized" her naturally atrocious photos during the 2000 election debacle. And this is coming from an outspoken member of the political party than screeched (and still does) about Hillary Clinton's "right-wing conspiracy" statement. What a nutcase.
-I've been wondering what happened to Eva Pigford, the girl who won the third "cycle" of America's Next Top Model. Those Cover Girl ads made her life seem so exciting, didn't they? That's why I was surprised I didn't read about her modeling Proenza Schouler's fall line in Vogue. Or even for Isaac Mizrahi's Target line. Or Kathie Lee's Wal-Mart line. But then I found out she's the lead in a critically acclaimed film that recently hit theaters, so I guess she's just been too busy to model. (OK, that was mean. But come on, there's an astounding likeness, isn't there?)
08-04-2005 4:50 PM - comments (1)
Call It What You Will Here.
Gah, I've been so boring here recently. Too much commentary, whining and the like.
Announcements: I'm adding the archives from April-November 2001 back to the site this weekend, redesigning the whole shebang (I miss my black, magenta, yellow and blue stoplight pop-mod theme) and turning Ouranophobe into a book. Well, if you can call self-publishing my archives a book. (I will never be as rockstar as Clare, whose book kept me captivated for two entire days at work.) I'll let you know when that happens, if anyone's interested in a copy.
As I said a few weeks ago, I don't do epiphanies. I do worthless staggering realizations roughly once per anum. Such was the case last night when I realized I've been keeping this blog for nearly four and a half years. It's so neat to go back and read from the beginning on; I cracked myself up for a good two hours last night. Understand, I'm the kind of girl who goes back to college e-mails and high school papers and middle school notes and feels utter shame at the circular logic and the thoughtless words, the kind of shame that physically makes you put your hands to your face to cover it while the blush makes its way down your body.
And though there have been times here when I've been less than perfect, I'm proud of my nonsense and myself. Through it all, this website has been a near-perfect reflection of me, the way I've always wanted myself to look: not reversed, the way you all see me in real life, but with my part in the right place and the gold specks in my eyes shining in the right direction. It reveals all about me: my bravado, my sense of humor, my lameness, my arrogance, my sexuality, my anger, my passion, my dullness, my elitism, my insecurity, my (punch) drunkenness, my hatred, my (fleeting) wit, my rottenness, my jealousy, my needs, my fear and my cliches.
On this website, my eyeliner is always dark and even, applied with a perfectly unshaking hand, while the Polish vodka chills in the freezer and something by Hemingway lies on my bed opened mid-book, its worn pages on the verge of disintegrating if I run my finger along a word the wrong way. And it's never wrong, even when it is.
I made a big deal about losing my music, because that's what I do. I make big deals and throw small fits and sling harsh words, and then I sober up (o ye of little metaphor) and change my thinking. And I exaggerate, and I contemplate, and I obsess and I wonder, and I always come back to the same thing: This whole thing cracks me up. The whole lot of it. Never fails.
Rachel: You're like Gene Wilder, without the ugly.
Michael (after less than a second's pause): You're like Gene Wilder, without the funny.
08-02-2005 8:53 PM - comments (5)
I pitched a doctor from cardiology (one of my dozen or so beats) to an AP reporter in Dallas working on a story about an American Heart Association journal finding about teen obesity and tobacco smoke, and now my doctor is in something like 200 outlets, including the websites of USA Today, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and Salon (?!), and on top of the "fold" of Google News. I'm just hoping it's in the papers tomorrow.
So this is what it feels like (to feel good about your job).
08-02-2005 2:22 PM - comments (0)
No, The Thief Had to Steal My Braid CD.
All 15 of the songs on Frank Black's celebrity iTunes playlist are by Burl Ives. And here I thought I was the only one with Burl Ives in my music collection.
08-01-2005 7:59 PM - comments (2)