Blind Date

I just posted to the 24th, because I forgot Ambrose's birthday. You probably missed the post. Go here.


Small Observation #2

The other day, the neighbor girl was swimming with my kids and came up to the deck to tattle at me:

"Your son just crossed mother."

As with sentences that make no sense (and song lyrics), my brain tried to make this series of words into something comprehensible. Maybe she said "Your son just crossed over." I checked. He was still breathing. Looked fine. Whew.
Maybe it's "Your Sun Jug's crossed another." A sun tea reference? Not brewing any.

I: Do what now?
SHE: Your son just crossed mother.
I: "Crossed mother"?
SHE: Yes.
I: Oh.
I: ...
I: What does that mean?
SHE: He said something untrue.
I: You mean he lied.
SHE: Yes.
I: Oh.
I: ...
I: "Crossed mother" means lie?
SHE: Yes.
I: Oh.

Anyone out there familiar with this? Is this a colloquialism I'm just not down with? Or has her family come up with a new, creepy-in-a-"Yes, Mother"-Psycho-kinda-way coinage for fibs? Thoughts...

Small Observation #1

I'm jus typing up note from an interview with the city' Mayor. There was a discussion of how he balances a reelection campaign with his mayoral obligations. Outside the context, these sentences which came in succession made me laugh:

"You have to get your priorities straight. First, run the city. You cannot neglect the duties of office. This is why you have a campaign staff.”

Maybe I'm just tired.


A Round Of Bierce, On The House

"An egotist is a person of low taste – more interested in
himself than in me."
-Ambrose Bierce

Today is Ambrose Bierce's birthday. Mr. Bierce's spirit is a continual inspiration for this site, evidenced by both his image and my pseudonym. In 8th grade, we saw the black and white short An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, and I knew this was a dude I could hang with.

If he were alive, he'd be yelling "Hey, Let me out of here! I'm alive!"
If anyone thought that in bad taste, know that Ambrose would've really dug it. Actually, the joke's so old, he may have written it.

I wish I had more, something witty, deep, ironic. But I got nothin'. Sorry, AB. Next year, I'll have it more together.


Forget Paris

So Paris Hilton is marrying a guy named Paris.
How many people on this planet can there be named Paris? I realize there are a few more in Europe than Michigan, but come on. And what can the odds be that two of them hook up? They have to be Powerballesque odds, at least.

Ruminating on the fates of two Parises quickly takes my mind, of course, to Greek legend. There's Narcissus, who rebuffed the advances of the Nymph Echo (echo). She, in turn, had Nemesis make him fall in love with his own reflection, staring at himself until he croaked.

Narcissus doesn't quite track for Ms. Hilton's situation, though. She's not in love with her reflection per se, just someone with her name. And her money. And her interesting hair. Perhaps, in her mind, marrying her male doppelganger somehow completes a mystical yin/yang thing.

I'm more drawn to thinking about the name "Paris." It brings to mind Helen of Troy's beau, and all the trouble that Paris got himself and a few-hundred thousand Greeks and Trojans into. That's a name with a bit of history.

So. Paris, France was named after a Greek legend*. Paris Hilton was named after a hotel. Paris Latsis may have been named after the nurse went a little too heavy on his mom's morphine drip. Or his granddad, there are conflicting reports.

Where was I?
The origin of academy, right.
So, before Paris took Helen and the Greeks got all wooden-horse on the Trojans, Helen had been taken by Theseus (apparently, "Helen gets kidnapped" is one of Greek myth's running gags). When Castor (and Pollux, natch) went looking for Helen, a fellow named Academus helped them out. In gratitude, the Spartans named a grove outside Athens after him. Years later, Plato moved in next door to the Grove of Academus and began taking his students there to philosophize in peace, away from the sounds of traffic and cell phones. He eventually passed on, but the Athenians had taken to calling his school the Academia, after the grove. And that's why places of learning are called academies.

A footnote: It was Aristotle who first came up with the idea of an Academy Award, and he nicknamed it after his cousin Oscar. The buzz is that thanks to House of Wax, Paris Hilton has a good shot at one next year.

*There is no evidence of this.


But Wait... There's More!

The petrol station on the corner has a big poster for Zig Zag rolling papers. It lets me know that rolling my own cigarettes, I can

Save up to 50%... or more!

Now, come on.
I can save up to 50%. This is the limit of my savings. I could save as little as zero or 1%, if I were a really bad roller, or licker, or whatever else is involved. But if I were pumping on all cylinders, perfectly rolling, licking, and whatever else is involved I could save up to 50%!

Or more!

So.. how much more? Up to 60%? 90%? 51%? You can't set a limit, then say I can go higher. Not going higher is a part of the definition of limit.
I know. It sounds good. And it does. Wow, up to 50%! But, hey, maybe even more!

But, really. Figure out the most anyone would ever pay for cigs. Find the cheapest anyone would ever charge for Zig Zags and tobacco. Then, using some equation math people can figure out that will involve division, figure out what the best possible savings could ever be.
Then tell us.
There used to be a nail place in town. Its name, no lie:

Just Nails and More!

I love that. I wish it were still around so I could take a picture. Sigh. Started this whole blog thing too late...

Oh, yeah. I say petrol station now. It's something I'm doing.


Another Brick In The Wall

Coldplay had the chance in its hands.
The band (don't know lyricist, too lazy to look it up, so am referring to entire band in the singular instead of the one responsible for actual lyric) could have shoved the pendulum back toward the "Remember Subjunctive? This is What It Sounds Like" camp. Coldplay probably would not have undone Gwen Stefani's Pepsi-Super Bowl-everywhere assault "If I was a rich girl" but it could have added to the corpus of folks using SUB-TEN correctly.

But, no. Their latest album, X&Y, includes the track What If, with such lyrics as:

What if there was no light
Nothing wrong, nothing right
What if there was no time
And no reason, or rhyme

Dang it! But, then, in the next two lines, they decide to get in the mood:

What if you should decide
That you don't want me there by your side

Is something better than nothing? Or is it too little, too late?


Chasing Bartlett

QUOTATION, n: The act of repeating erroneously the words of another.
Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

It's been a while since I pulled out Mr. Bierce for a quotation. The Hives' Dead Quote Olympics made me think of the one above:

This time you've really got something it's such a clever idea
But it doesn't mean it's good 'cause you found it at the library
Yes they were smart but they are dead
And you're repeating all that they said
You know it don't make you clever like you thought it would

OK, guys. Yes, they're dead. But there's still some pretty good stuff out there. What I like about quotes is how there's always someone out there who was at some point in time thinking about what you're thinking about right now, and he thought enough of it to put it down on paper and now it's become very deep and poignant because it's old. Isn't it the goal of all quasi-intellectuals to someday say something that gets collected in a book that is one day used to start a chapter in a 7th-grade term paper?
I know it's mine.

But, as I always say:

Never has so great a task been set as to have once and always be forever molded in our hearts.

I'm still tweaking it... just a little. I may change "molded" to "smelted". Or "smelten". I think it's got a shot at immortality, though.


Bout' It Bout' It

A local steakhouse is staffed with employees who all wear T-shirts which read:

How bout' a gift card for Dad?

I know I just posted about apostrophes. But, dang. How does an apostrophe migrate all the way to the wrong end of a word like that? How many people have to look at a T-shirt design before it is approved in this organization? I mean, Master P didn't know where it went, so he just ignored it. I think that's better than slapping it on at the end...

I realize this is a case of "I know that word has an apostrophe, I just don't know where to put it." But it's not like "men's" vs. "mens'". This seems pretty straightforward... my seven-year old gets that one use of apostrophes is to take the place of a missing letter.
Maybe it's supposed to read:

How bouts a gift card...

but that doesn't really make sense. More likely, it's simply a case of not enough time to ask someone to look over your work before you send it out. Like another T-shirt I know many of you have seen, but is worth reposting:
nod: Banterist
How many people in City of Lights' entourage knew she was a walking mistake (redundancy noted), but chose to ignore it?
Actually, I think the tee may be a sly jab at the paparazzi. It says: "you think I'm so dumb I can't even get an apostrophe in where the seven-year-old kid of the guy at SPASTIC knows one goes? Well, joke's on you, suckers. I'm just messin' with ya."
And to her I say well played, Paris Hilton. Well played, indeed.


Apostrophe Atrophy

Billboard on the freeway:


I can see the choice to ignore all punctuation. It's graphically eye-catching. It makes me want to go there. But on first read, I do a full stop after "Grand Rapids."

The Big Dip. Grand Rapids. Only water park.

If they're punctuation-averse, OK. But I submit that the apostrophe making G.R. possessive must be there... not only because it's correct, but to signal that the next line is a part of the same sentence.

Then, there's this:
I saw this sign days after buying a house sign for "The Sanders'". It made me think of the two minutes spent discussing its punctuation. The lady who was making the sign said there needn't be any, because we're answering the question:

Who lives here?
The Sanders family. The Sanders. Or: The Sanderses.

I argued:
It's not an answer to a question, it's a statement: this is the Sanders' residence.

Luckily, she was not up for a spirited debate. And, I was the one paying. I'm right, yes? If not, it's already mounted on a house...


Gimme Buffet*

Is there a difference between ALL YOU CAN EAT and ALL YOU CARE TO EAT? We've got both options in town. It seems that, for gluttons, all they care to eat will be all they can eat. But for temperate souls, all they can eat will probably be all they care to eat, as well. Because as soon as they're full, they'll stop. I suppose that feeling full isn't the same as truly being full to the top.

MAÎTRE D: And finally, monsieur, a wafer-thin mint.
MAÎTRE D: Oh, sir, it's only a tiny, little, thin one.
MR. CREOSOTE: Look. I couldn't eat another thing. I'm absolutely stuffed. Bugger off.
MAÎTRE D: Oh, sir, just-- just one.
MR. CREOSOTE: All right. Just one.

Since I'll never actually open this store, I'm going to give away my idea for a restaurant that includes an all-you-can-eat ice cream buffet. This place will have 50 flavors, 50 toppings, whipped cream, the works. Its name: Any Given Sundae. If you steal this idea, please give credit.

*I'm struggling with titles lately. If you've got one for this post, let me know. The Jimmy/Gimme Buffett/Buffet just isn't happening. I was thinking Buffet The Vampire Slayer, but that made no sense at all.


Feeling A Little Tense

A comment came my way recently as a friendly reminder:
Aren't you supposed to be railing against misuse of the subjunctive tense (SUB-TEN)? Whatever happened to SPASTIC?

Oh. Yeah. That.

Well, I wanted to make a nice sidebar on the right with a permanent link where anyone could post his or her latest subjunctive picks or pans. But I don't know how to do that, and I don't want to figure it out right now.
But here are a couple that have been in my head lately:

PICK: A song by Rooney that's been in my head, If It Were Up to Me. Yes, boys, yes. Simple, no? Sounds nice, yes? Yes.
A sample lyric:

'Cause our love (our love)
Is the best love (best love)
If it were up to me
Yes, our love (our love)
Oh, is real love
So just let it be

It really gets in your head. Love Rooney.

PAN: Grisham. I know, too easy a target. I just finished reading The Last Juror. It's from last year. I finally got around to reading it because it's about a guy who makes a ton of money running a small-town newspaper. I knew that was a sweet racket! Any-hoo, he pretty much ignores subjunctive mood completely. After a couple offenses, I decided to start dog-earing pages. It got ridiculous and I stopped.
Just a couple representative examples:

"Baggy leaned over as if it was time to whisper"
"If a valid arrest warrant was obtained..."

Now, one may be tempted to forgive the offenses, as the book is told in first person, and perhaps the narrator simply doesn't know any better. But on the same page as the "whisper" line, is this:

"...he was smiling a lot, as if he were really a nice kid..."

See? Very nice. As Rooney points out in If It Were Up To Me:

It's easy (easy)
It's easy (easy)
It's easy...


Now, With Less Incompetence!

It's graduation season, which means that it's time again to reinforce the bad habits of misspellers. Even though "Congradulations!" is a fairly clever wordplay, it's encouraging those who spell it that way year-round to continue.
The same goes for those who call their elementary school arboretum a "kinder-garden". It's not helping.

Back to graduation. Our local bakery has a sign advertising:


Sigh. On this same sign, it advertises the ability to place a photo of your child on the cake. It then proclaims this guarantee:


Do most people go in assuming their photo will be lost? Is this a big problem? And now that it's in print, will folks be hoping the photo gets lost so they can cash in on the free-cake deal? I would hope that if they lost my photo, a free cake would be the least they would do. Advertising this is baffling to me.

For the record, I'm all for cake. Big fan. Photo ones, especially. If I can enjoy a sugar high and eat your face, that's just icing on the cake.


Great Expectations

I saw this sign in a parking lot yesterday:


Are we doing that now, making expecting an adjective? Because it's not. I don't think. I've been wrong before.
In a Googlefight, "expecting mothers" get a respectable 35,400 while "expectant mothers" kills it with 253,000.

Is it that the phrase "she's expecting", with [a baby] understood, makes expecting seem like an adjective?

All I know is that when I see this sign, I expect to see mothers with their children, standing in the space, looking out to the horizon, as if a UFO is about to land.


Dis Or Dat

A few years back, we started seeing these signs pop up around Michigan:
click it or ticket

Kind of a clever rhyme... making "ticket" mean "get a ticket" is a bit of a stretch. Literally, it sounds more like "If you don't buckle up, you will give someone a ticket", but for the sake of the meter, it gets a pass.

Lately, this has been the new signage:


Now we have two competing if-this-then-that slogans. Is this necessary? Or is this how it played out:

BOB: OK, everyone, I'm Bob, and I'm the new guy here. My first task will be to implement a fresh, new slogan: "Buckle Up or Pay Up."
GUY #1: Hey! I liked Click It or Ticket!
GUY #2: Yeah! That was Fred's idea! I like Fred!
Guy #3: Yeah!
[murmurs of dissent--shouts of "yeah!" are heard over the walla-walla]
FRED: Yeah!
BOB: OK, fine. we'll compromise and use both. But I get top billing. And it's no longer a "law you can live with." That line was crap.

I mean, really. I get it. If I do not use my safety belt, I will owe someone money. I don't need it twice. One phrase does not add to the other, it just makes the sign compete with itself. I'm afraid next year, we'll have:


Stop the insanity now.