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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Grammar War Rages On

He's a comma; not a sperm cell.

As a “descriptivist,” I try to describe language as it is used. As a “prescriptivist,” you focus on how language should be used. If we were from the two extremes, I would open fire by saying that you preach stodgy nonrules that most people don’t obey, and that people like you don’t understand that language must grow and change. You would then call me a permissivist who ignores the fact that people can use language incompetently or well, and that people want to write and speak well.
-Robert Lane Greene New York Times

I am fascinated by grammar and I would probably have a pretty good grip on it if it weren’t for the fact that I have chosen to spread my knowledge of the subject across several languages. I think my grasp of Spanish and French rules of syntax is more than adequate but I wouldn’t venture to include myself amongst the elite in either language.  I work constantly to improve my grammar in French and Spanish but I am far more concerned with amplifying my vocabulary. If I don’t understand something it’s because I don’t understand a word, it’s not because my grammar is at fault. I am always open to improving my grammar in English in order to write as clearly as possible.

What serves as the mooring of language is literature.  If most people aren’t reading I’m afraid that the ship of a sturdy grammar has already sailed.  The handful of grammar dorks and curiosity seekers to be found here have been thrown overboard by a post-literate society. Without literature our language will mutate exponentially like Haitian Creole and could become so unrecognizable that these arguments over “that” and “which” will seem completely without perspective, like arguing over whether the Nazi policy of “no shoes, no shirt, no service” was unjust.

To bother over grammar trivia is petty; to be concerned over the meaning of language is not.  As I have said many times, language is the wine and grammar is merely the vessel. Whether it is drunk from a crystal goblet or a plastic cup matters less than the quality of the product.  I would rather read something that has something to say than a well-written essay about nothing. 

I find grammar Nazis to be completely foolish. I would wager that people who harp about the misuse of “literally” and the use of invented words like “irregardless” have never written anything worth reading.  Anyone who corrects someone’s grammar without being asked is being a complete douche bag. Worry about your own damn grammar. What I care about is what someone has to say and how they say it. Of course, problems often arise because some people’s grammar is so utterly atrocious that their words lack meaning, but minor faults in grammar rarely hinder communication.  Taken in context it’s actually pretty hard to butcher spelling and grammar enough to hide the meaning.  I save my criticism for the content, not the grammar.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Random Quote

They say that we only regret the things in life that we don’t do but I'm guessing that America’s prison population of over 2.5 million would probably beg to differ.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Me Duele el Pulgar

A lot of beasts in the animal kingdom not blessed with this feature probably think that an opposable thumb is over-rated.  I may have felt the same right up until I injured my left hand. My question to those loser animals without a working thumb is this: how do you unzip your pants to take a leak? And don’t say to wear sweat pants because that is cheating.

Someone suggested hiring a monkey.

I was going to say that I wouldn’t trust a monkey any further* than I could throw one but I bet I could throw a monkey really far. I have my own technique I developed back when dwarf tossing was still fashionable. The trick is to grab them by one ankle and spin around like they do in the hammer throw in the Olympics.

*Or is it “farther?” I think I am talking about a metaphoric distance on the chimp trust issue but a definite physical distance in the throwing department.  I’ll let the grammar dorks battled it out because I have bigger issues with languages than petty shit like this.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Thought for the Day

by john scheck
Ever notice that when celebrities do stuff for charity it’s always something really cool that normal slobs like us never get to do? Stuff like a black tie charity ball or a classic car rally or whatever. Just send in a check and shut your pie hole about the fact that you have enough money to piss away on any damn thing. Jesus, they must do a lot of yoga to be flexible enough to pat themselves on the back like that. So that’s why I never give money to people collecting at my door because where’s my all-you-can-eat buffet? I try to tell them that but slamming the door only takes like a second or two.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bore Me To Sleep

Maybe this dead guy cares about your dream?
(Based on a true story)
Before you tell me about your bizarre dream let me just stop you to say that I’ve heard this one before. How you get into a taxi but the driver is a chimpanzee. He tries to rip you off by going through town hitting all the traffic lights instead of taking the expressway.  When you point this out  he goes ballistic and showers you with a Colt45 he has between his legs (you suspected he was drunk from the start)) and screams at you in Russian. So he throws you out of the cab in front of a shabby X-rated movie house where your parents are waiting in line along with your kindergarten teacher who is wearing only a fishing vest and sensible shoes—not an unflattering ensemble if the truth be told.

I could go on but I think you get the point: all dreams are stupid and bizarre and no one since Freud wants to hear about yours. Graham Greene supposedly kept a dream journal for much of his life. I bet that is the biggest piece of shit in the history of fiction after 50 Shades of Grey (since I read about 20 pages I feel I am somewhat of an authority on that horrible book).  If you start recounting your dream I will have to invoke my XXXII Amendment rights which say that I can dump a bucket of steaming offal on your head.

First of all, nobody does normal stuff in dreams. They don't just wake up, brush their teeth, have a cup of coffee, and go to work.  Secondly, no one has ever had a dream that was interesting to another person. Never. Ever. You won't be the first, I promise. Even if you have huge boobs and a winning smile I may pass out from boredom during your story and hit my head on a coffee table and die. Do you want that on your conscience?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

National Lampoon Magazine 1975

I recently came across PDFs of National Lampoon Magazines which helped to shape my sense of humor, for better or worse. This bit is from the letters to the editor:

My church confessional has an express lane for three sins or less. I have five sins. Do you think it would be better if I went to the express lane anyway and pretend I have only three sins?

Last time I went my baby suffocated in the trunk because I had to wait four hours behind a German.

P.S. The odor won’t go away, either.

And from the same issue, Sparties 5 Day Live in Diaper.