Bruce. Lee.

Driving today, I encountered construction. A large tar-making machine had spray painted on its rear a message, presumably aimed at me:


While I realize these were probably meant as two thoughts, or at least as subordinate clauses in need of punctuation, I read them in my head as one:* "GIT-R-DONE SLOW." And then, out loud to no one, I corrected their misuse of the adverb by saying: "LEE." I do this to people, too. Such sanctimoniousness must really irk some folks.

THEM: "Man, you do that quick."
ME: "Lee."
THEM: "Sorry?"
ME: "Quickly. I do it quickly."
THEM: "Oh."
[awkward pause]
THEM: "So, anyway, the play was real good."
ME: "Lee."
THEM: ...
YOU: "The play was really..."
YOU: [Looking down, hurt puppy-dog eyes]
THEM: Hey, I'm sorry, don't take it personal."
YOU: "Lee."

Is there an Grammar Correctors Anonymous? Could we start one?
Or is there no shame in helping people along the path to proper speech? We should stand tall in our quest, rooting out improper usage and dragging it into the daylight!

OK, but see, here's the thing:
I don't want to get hit.

*I take the same tack when reading "SLOW CHILDREN." I say "Oh, poor things."


Thinning the Heard

It happened again.
How can I listen to a song for 30 years and never know I've gotten the lyrics wrong? Today's example is very minor compared to previous blunders. I'm singing along to "The Dana Owens Album." This is Queen Latifah's great jazz album from last year, which finds her crooning standards in velvety "Mama Morton" voice.
She's got a cover of "California Dreamin'" where she purrs:

Stopped into a church
I passed along the way
And I got down on my knees
And I pretended to pray

I've been listening to this for months, and today I decided to write about Latifah's motivation for changing the line:

...got down on my knees and began to pray (Mamas and Paps version)


...got down on my knees and pretended to pray (QL version)

Is this her comment on religion? She can't bring herself to show listeners she knows how to pray? If I'd had a guess, I'd have said she probably goes to church. It's baffling.

Of course, as everyone knows, "pretend to pray" is the line. Always has been. Sigh. I don't know if I can relearn this. I've belted it so many times incorrectly, it's definitely in the long-term-song-lyric-remembering part of my brain.

This lastest incident joins:

"Give me the Beach Boys and free my soul..." (Drift Away)
"Sunday Monkey want Trés Bien Ensemble" (Michelle)
"Are you reelin' in the eaves? Throwin' away the time? Are you gatherin' up the tea leaves?" (Reelin' In The Years)

There are others. These, though, represent words I truly, surely, positively knew were the correct words. Gathering tea leaves still makes perfect sense to me. Sunday Monkey doesn't, but it's the Beatles. I figured it was probably a drug reference.

Please add your own. Or check out this site*. Or both. I'm off to listen to Seizure Sisters. They rock.

*after looking at this site, I found someone else who heard "tea leaves." So there.


"Interpreter" Piece Needs Interpreter

Maybe we put too much pressure on reporters to actually report facts. In the internet age, they are under a lot of pressure. But, c'mon. Check out this line from an E!Online piece about the weekend's movies:

"Debuting in first was the Nicole Kidman-Sean Penn United Nations-based thriller, The Interpreter. The film, the first for director Sydney Pollack, had a strong showing, with $22.8 million over an otherwise sluggish weekend."

It's not the over-the-top super-hyphenate, either. It's the line "first for director Sydney Pollack" that's a bit of a stunner. His first movie? Don't tell Robert Redford... he might not want to know the six movies he did with Pollack don't count. How to tell Dustin Hoffman his Oscar nom for "Tootsie" is, like entire seasons of "Dallas", simply a very lucid dream. And Tom Cruise? "The Firm" wasn't worth remembering, anyhow.

Maybe they meant "the first [insert accomplishment] for director..." But what could that be? The first #1 debut? Nope. "The Firm" did that, if not others. His first movie where he also acted? Nope. He's got 12, though some (including "The Interpreter") are uncredited.

I've decided the reporter must have meant this:
"The film, the first Nicole Kidman-Sean Penn United Nations-based thriller for director Sydney Pollack, had a strong showing."

Dude. Sweet.

Slang is Fun.
My latest fun slang phrase is "you hot." It means you're crazy, messed up. I know I've posted this before, but, well, there it is.
This post is not about fun slang. It is about dumb slang. '80s slang. One in particular that, when I think of it, makes me shake my head in wonder.

The '80s was an innocenter time, when folks had to says things like "Girls Rock Your Boys" instead of "*u** That *i***." But the '80s also gave us leg warmers and Manimal. And it was in the '80s where, every Tuesday and Friday night, cheerleaders could be heard chanting:

"All right, all right, all right!
Decent, decent, decent!"

Decent? As in "not bad"? This is the best variant of "cool" we could come up with? Pitiful. Granted, we did say "sweet", which has stuck around. But can anyone come up with a less-super superlative than "decent"?

Lame, lame lame.

Perhaps consolation can be found in the lyrics of the song "New Slang", by The Shins:

God speed all the bakers at dawn may they all cut their thumbs,
And bleed into their buns 'till they melt away

Yes, yes. God speed, people. God speed.


Get Thee to a Punnery!

A few days ago, my seven-year-old son and I were on hole ten during 18 holes of disc golf. I said "I've still got a shot at a four, here." He said "I can't get a four. I can't even get an aft."

Woah. I was So Proud. My son, the Bad Punner. At such an Early Age. A Pun Prodigy.
How fun is that?


Advance Warning: Actual Experiences Ahead

A recent csmonitor article about podcasting explained that "...new software called iPodder allows one to download prerecorded radio shows onto the devices."
When SPASTIC went live, we emailed our friend Michael so he could check it out. Michael's response: "Cool! Are you podcasting yet?"
Well, dang! We just got a blog! Now we need to podcast? By the by, our blog launched a month before the word "blog" was officially banned, so you can see how bleeding-edge* we are.

Today is not about podcasting. It's about redundancy.
In the Monitor article, the author says you can download "prerecorded" radio. I have yet to find a postrecorded anything. Every time I do it, I have to first record it, then play it back. So it's simply been "recorded." To prerecord would involve somehow recording the event before I record it. Which I don't think people ever do.

It's time again to watch out for the Emerald Ash Borer, a nasty bug that's deforesting Michigan. A press release describes the scoundrel:
"Adults are dark metallic green in color, 1/2 inch in length and 1/16 inch wide, and are present only from mid May until late July. Larvae are creamy white in color."
So, they are either green or white "in color." The clarification is helpful, since some thought they may be green "in smell" or white "in love."

Folks with variable-rate loans may "have an unexpected surprise lurking around the corner", writes one recent article.
It's true that those unexpected surprises are much more surprising than the expected ones. Just last month, we gave SPASTIC's treasurer Frances a surprise party. Of course, we gave her fair warning so she could prepare, and she reports that the affair was "one of the nicest expected surprises" she's had in a long time.

I'm off to work on the second printing of my new bumper stickers:
Immediately Eliminate Redundancy Now!

*can we get "bleeding-edge" banished this year?


Why I Am Not A Pop Star

It is not because my voice is Dylan-meets-Axl Rose via Peter Brady.
It is not because my body is shaped like the Alice In Wonderland caterpillar's hookah.
It is not because I am without angst or passion.

It is because I could never actually say the words that come out of these guys' mouths without laughing.

Backstory: I was visiting a friend's blog, who was talking about his displeasure with the word "retreat" being used in a spiritual sense. I was going to reply with the lyrics to Lenny Kravitz' "Fly Away."
Sorry for the length, but here are the lyrics to Lenny Kravitz' "Fly Away":

I wish that I could fly
Into the sky
So very high
Just like a dragonfly

I'd fly above the trees
Over the seas in all degrees
To anywhere I please

Oh I want to get away
I want to fly away
Yeah yeah yeah

Oh I want to get away
I want to fly away
Yeah yeah yeah

Let's go and see the stars
The milky way or even mars
Where it could just be ours

Let's fade into the sun
Let your spirit fly
Where we are one
Just for a little fun
Oh oh oh yeah !

I want to get away
I want to fly away
Yeah yeah yeah

I want to get away
I want to fly away
Yeah yeah yeah

I got to get away
Feel I got to get away
Oh oh oh yeah

I want to get away
I want to fly away
Yeah with you yeah yeah
Oh yeah !

I want to get away
I want to fly away
Yeah with you yeah yeah
I got to get away

I want to get away x4
I want to get away
I want to fly away
Yeah with you yeah yeah
I got to get away

I want to get away x4

I want to get away
I want to fly away
Yeah with you
Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah

This is why. I'm sure there are a bazillion other examples. And I probably sing along with them. I just could not sing them.


Words and Music

Recent music keeps placing itself in front of me, as if to say "Hey! Lay off! We haven't abandoned all sense of Fun With Words!"

To wit:

The group Foxymorons
Is this the first time anyone thought of this? I can't imagine, but I was jealous/sad that I hadn't come up with it. In 6th grade, when my friends and I learned what an oxymoron was, the best we could come up with was "no, you're the oxymoron!" Later, someone came up with a definition that included acne.

Fiery Furnaces' "Chief Inspector Blancheflower"
This is a way-trippy song, especially the ADHD first three minutes. But what jumped out at me, as it played in the background, was this line:

And after that rustic imposition I took a deposition
I shared a Woodpecker cider with a local fratricider

Whaaa?! Just a few days ago, I was pondering another recent song with the line:

My dewy-eyed Disney bride, what has tried
swapping your blood with formaldehyde?
Whiskey-plied voices cried fratricide!

Is this a trend? A sub-genre of fratricide songs?
If so, I have a couple of suggestions:
Dylan’s “Ain’t No More Cain”
James Taylor’s “Friendly Fire and Rain”
Iggy Pop’s “Romulus for Life”

The act of killing a jackass for meat.
-Ambrose Bierce, Devil's Dictionaries, Revised and Expanded


I Get Intellectualer Every Day

A statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with one's own opinion.
-Ambrose Bieerce, The Devil's Dictionary

In a recent article, Newsweek's Jane Bryant Quinn writes:
"The commonest measure of value is the stock's price relative to the company's earnings (the P/E ratio), and techs look rich."

And I think, "commonest"? What?

Turns out, "commonest" is quite common. Totally acceptable.

Why did I not know this?


Spoon Collection

Today, the minister spoke of finding "Joy in the Jailhouse." What came out was "finding Jail in the Joyhouse." I'm sure in some places, those who visit the Joyhouse soon find Jail.
A textbook spoonerism? Maybe not, but fun... just like "fruitened with sweet."

end transmission


50 Nifty

The young man who goes by the moniker 50 Cent currently has five songs in the Billboard Hot 50. Quite the troubadour. Three hits are his alone, two are works with his protégé-cum-Hatfield/McCoy buff, The Game.

If I were The Game, I would have had concerns that my name would be confused with the Michael Douglas vehicle of the same name, but there seems to be little confusion among fans. Which is good, because you don't want the guy that made "Se7en" after you with a trademark lawsuit. You just know he mails people heads in boxes just for fun.

Where was I?

Right, The Trammps. Thank you. In 1977, The Trammps released Disco Inferno, one of Disco Era's most memorable hits. 50 Cent's Disco Inferno is currently Number One on the Billboard chart. Mr. Cent was zero years old when the song came out, but he still likes it enough to record a cover of it. This is a testament to the staying power of a song that tweaked the leaders of the day by syly commenting on society, with lyrics such as:

Satisfaction (uhu hu hu) came in the chain reaction
(burnin') I couldn't get enough, (till I had to self-destroy) so I had to
self destruct, (uhu hu hu)
The heat was on (burnin’), rising to the top, huh!
Everybody's goin' strong (uhu hu hu)
And that is when my spark got hot
I heard somebody say
Burn baby burn! - Disco inferno!
Burn baby burn! - Burn that mama down, yoh!

It's easy to see how Cent is touched by these words. What is confusing, though, is that very little of the original song has made it into the new version. For example:

Disco inferno
Let's go
Ya now rockin with a pro
I get dough, to flip dough, to get mo' fo' sho'
Get my drink on and get on the dance floor

There are the words "Disco Inferno", but there are no babies burning, no sparks getting hot. This is a very loose interpretation, to be sure. Which is a shame. Whereas the Trammps saw a world where

It was so entertainin' - when the boogie started to explode

Mr. Cent lives in a place where

I'm so gutter, so ghetto, so hood.
So gully, so grimey, what's good?

The alliteration using the letter G has a purpose. It's an homage to 50 Cent's group called G-Unit. In every song he records, Cent puts in at least one line of G-alliteration, like in the recent hit "Candy Shop":

Get a Gobstopper, Grab a Goober
Good 'N' Plenties are super-duper
Gobblin' gummies makes me a #1 hooper

Actually, I haven't heard Candy Shop, but this is the way I imagine it goes.

So, here's thing: I think 50 Cent may have a trademark infringement lawsuit on his hands. And watch out for those guys from the Trammps... mess with them, they'll mail you superfluous consonants in a box: "What's going on over there? What's in the box? What's in the box? WHAT'S IN THE BOX!!!?! No! Noooo! Now I'm Fiffty Cennts!"



A fellow by the name of Andrew Bird has a song on his album The Mysterious Production of Eggs called "Fake Palindromes." Of course, this struck my curiosity and I iTuned* it.
It's crazy, it rocks, and it's like nothing else. Like a dummy, I tried to unpack it. What's up with the palindrome title? Here's the first stanza:

My dewy-eyed Disney bride, what has tried
swapping your blood with formaldehyde?
Whiskey-plied voices cried fratricide!
Jesus don't you know that you could've died
(you should've died)
with the monsters that talk, monsters that walk the earth

Five minutes I spent with this. Is it biblical? The fratricide/Jesus line takes me to a Cain/Abel/crucifixion place. The blood. And um, monsters. Dinosaurs? It falls apart from there. And as it goes on, I can't find a palidrome to save my life. But here's what I think:

This song doesn't need words. It's about the sounds, especially the vowel sounds. Just get enveloped by it, awash in assonance and violins. As for the Palindromes? I think that's just a hint that this piece is meant as a verbal plaything.

Not a very interesting post, I know. But check this guy out. David Byrne+Lou Reed+Pete Seeger+Ravi Shankar=not a very good description, but the best I could come up with.

*I also googled it.


I i, Therefore IM.

Yesterday, an esteemed member of the SPASTIC board won an iPod from Pepsi. He was quite excited, showing everyone he met. His enthusiasm was not matched by most, and some alternative names for the device were suggested, like the:


And I meditate, again, about the use of the small initial letter in branding. We've got iPods, iBooks, iPaqs, eMacs, the iRiver MP3 player, the BMW iDrive system; there's even a foot massager caled the iSqueez. Anyone ever get a five-day dose of Zithromax? It's called a Z-PAK. Not a small letter, but in the same vein. There are more, maybe you can post the ones you've seen.

I think "i" has had its run. Here's the first salvo in the fight for the use of small initial letter "u". It could stand for "unconventional" or "unmatched quality". It could be used in many products.

Vacuum cleaner: uSuck
Lunchmeat: uTurkey
Ragtime Piano: uBeeblake
Dr. Office: uB Illin'
Ventriloquism Aid: uBigDummy

et cetera. Discuss.