Friday, April 27, 2012

Flicky Friday (ft. Daddy Issues Dating)

From the hilarious Michael James Nelson, and via a co-worker who for some reason thought of me when she saw this video, I bring you today's Flicky Friday: "Daddy Issues Dating."  Consider it a second chance for those of you who weren't able to find love with Sea Captain Date. - watch more funny videos     

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

U Suck @ Grammer: Apostrophe Edition

U SUCK @ GRAMMER* is a column I write (with editing help from my friend Ashley because you guys are super critical) that teaches a basic grammar lesson.  It's usually based on major blunders and personal pet peeves that I've witnessed recently.  Previously,  we've looked at what the hell "biweekly" means, the tricky difference between "affect" and "effect," and where to put "I" instead of "me."  Today, we're going to branch out into punctuation, usage, and the philosophy behind this usage. Today I bring you:

U SUCK @ GRAMMER: Apostrophes as Omissions

The apostrophe is a useful little tool for clarifying writing, but unfortunately it's also one of the most widely abused and misused punctuation marks.  It seems that people sometimes recognize (from a lifetime of readin' and writin') that there should be an apostrophe somewhere in a word, but are still unclear on exactly where it goes.  Unfortunately, the solution often resorted to when the exact location of the apostrophe is unclear is just to put it wherever the fuck you want ("PWFYW"), which is, of course, less than ideal.  This article is going to attempt to explain at least one oft-misplaced use of the apostrophe, and, in doing so, seek to find a cure for what I am going to dub "PWFYW-syndrome."

The problem is that an apostrophe can be used for many different purposes, and its placement within a word depends on its function in the word.  Misuse seems to stem most frequently from confusion over whether one is adding an apostrophe to signal an omission or to make a word possessive.  Perhaps because the latter is more common, many people make the possessive location their default, even if the word is not possessive.


Dates are a frequent victim of this blunder (and a personal pet peeve of mine), so we'll look at them first.  Instead of saying, "Mad Men takes place in the 'nineteen sixties,'" sometimes you want to say, more colloquially, "the sixties."  The numeric version of "the sixties" omits the "nineteen" portion and replaces it with an apostrophe.  Therefore, "the sixties" written numerically should look like this:

the '60s

because we are taking out [19]60s and replacing it with [']60s. It should not look like:

the 60's

EVER because the 60's are not owning anything.  If you get confused, think about the fact that you would write it out: "these are the best tunes of the sixties," not the "these are the best tunes of the sixty's."  Right? Right.


Another frequently misused instance of the apostrophe-as-omission is in the ubiquitous southern colloquialism, "y'all."  Y'all is a contraction of the words "you" and "all," and is formed by dropping the "ou" from "you" and smushing it together (to use a Jersey Shore term) with "all."  Therefore, an apostrophe is added to replace the "ou," meaning the correct form of "y'all" should look like:


and NOT:


I'm not sure how this second bastardization of the spelling started (one blogger suggests that it's because the verbalization sounds like "yawl" which lends itself to be written ya'll?), but it has been adopted with alarming frequency across the South.  I see it on store signs all the time, and recently have seen it on more than one wedding chalkboard ("this way to the reception, ya'll"), which is almost as embarrassing as the time a professional blog described a wedding as "classic, sheik, and feminine." 

Wonderfully, the grammatical term for what happens when two adjacent vowel sounds, one at the end of a word and one at the beginning of the word, link up to become one combined diphthong, is called a "crasis."  So now, the next time someone writes "ya'll,"  you can muster your best Southern accent and respond, "oh my God, y'all, it's a grammar crasis!"  And you'll still be totally correct.


But far and away the biggest offender is the contraction "you're."   You see, the possessive of "you," as in, "you own this," is "your."  But equally common is the contraction of the expression "you are," i.e., "you're."  Forgive me, those of you to whom this seems rudimentary, but the totally egregious and frequent interchanging of these two different words gives me pause:  I won't just assume anyone knows this rule, because I read too many Facebook statuses.  Take this sentence:

"You are going to lend me your copy of The Wire when you are finished watching it, right?" 

could also be written as

"You're going to lend me your copy of The Wire when you're finished watching it?"


"Your going to lend me you're copy of The Wire when your finished watching it." 

This one should be the easiest to learn: it's not a tricky, seldom-used date; it's not a slang term with fuzzy origins.  It's just two different words, "your" and "you are," the latter just has its vowels replaced by an apostrophe to make sayin' it easier. YES, I understand they SOUND the same when you say them out loud, but just because they are homophones doesn't mean that you can WRITE them the same way.

 Here is a great example that is surprisingly NOT stolen from my own iPhone: 

So, just like we did when learning whether to say "I" or "me" in a sentence, before you type, stop and think for a moment: am I saying "you are" or "you own?"  And then apply an apostrophe accordingly.  Oh shit, now you guys are going to start saying "y'wn" aren't you?  I hate y'all. 

I love this so much.

Addendum: Here's someone I don't hate: the guys who put together

*Grammar is intentionally spelled incorrectly as "grammer" in the title to parody ironically incorrect use of the word. Don't be a douchenozzle and try to point out that we spelled it wrong. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Mad Men Mondays: "Signal 30"

Note: My "Mad Men" reviews contain spoilers.  "Mad Men" can definitely be enjoyed even with said spoilers (it's not "Lost"), but if you want to be surprised and/or respect Matthew Weiner's wishes, just watch it first.  Also, my reviews aren't always full episode recaps; if you're looking to read the plot, I direct you to PurseBlog (seriously), or my frequent substantive source, Vulture.

I think I found Ken Hargrove's book!
Episode 505, "Signal 30" (portentously named after a car-crash video showed to driver's ed students in the 1960s), was an all-around strong, back-to-the-basics chapter.   There was some old fashioned Dick-Whitman-grew-up-in-a-whorehouse character building, confirmation of Joan's never-a-hair-uncoiffed resilience in the face of personal tragedy, and a classic, scrambling Sterling-Cooper-Draper-Campbell brainstorm to close the deal with a finicky client.  There was indeed a brothel, a nubile teenager regaling a story of being "hungover" from vanilla extract, and exposure of hereto-bland Ken Hargrove as a burgeoning science fiction writer.   But, the only scene anyone is going to talk about is when Pete Campbell got punched in the fucking face.

I'll admit: due to a DVR malfunction, I watched this episode in two bisected halves two nights in a row.  "Mad Men" is not best enjoyed piecemeal, benefiting as it does from its slow-build momentum.   However, this particular episode rather neatly lent itself to a Before and After.

In the Before time, tortured Don was dream-strangling ex-lovers and avoiding dinner parties,  Roger was complacent in his growing uselessness (at one point calling himself "Professor Emeritus of Accounts"), Pete was outfitting a shiny new saddle for his high horse, and Lane was hopelessly, helplessly emasculated.   Beginning almost exactly halfway through the episode, though, the power balance began to shift like a creaky teeter-toter.  Don was faced with consequence-free, socially-sanctioned infidelity on a business trip to a whorehouse, but seemed not to even wrestle with temptation; he was so celibate and unaffected that the post-coital Pete Campbell accused him of being "a nun."  This adventure served not only to reposition Don into a new-found sense of self-restraint and maturity (his defense of his marriage to Megan makes the awkward memory of "Zou Bisou Bisou" seem like it happened to a different couple), but also to make absolutely sure that even if you're tuning into "Mad Men" tonight for the first time ever, you already want someone to punch Pete Campbell in the face.

And who less expected -- but more perfect -- than Lane Pryce to do the punching.  Furious that the Yanks stole his English friend (who also happens to be a Jaguar executive and randy potential client) and took him to a brothel, and further provoked by a snotty, nasty comment from Pete (a less-veiled version of what Pete has been slowly saying to Roger all season), Lane rolls up his sleeves, takes off his glasses (nerds of the world rejoice!), and challenges Pete to a conference-room fisticuffs.  Pete surveys the room with the offended smugness of a child about to tattle on a playground bully, and we get to watch -- delightedly -- as that doughy smirk falls down Pete's face when he realizes there are no teachers to be found.  The name partners stand together with the silent sense that this is precisely how this ego-inflating, manhood-assaulting altercation should be resolved.  Well, at least silent until Roger says what we're all thinking:
"Cooler heads should prevail, but am I the only one who wants to see this?"
No, you're not Roger.  We all want to see this.  In this beautiful, sad/funny, gritty little "Mad Men" moment, Lane actually fights Pete -- and Lane does it old school, in a boxing stance, a tactic so upfront and masculine that dirty, whiny, below-the-belt Pete doesn't have a chance.  Pete gets in a few swings, but Lane hits him, and hits him hard.  And there's no one in the room or in the audience who doesn't find themselves with half-balled fists, wishing it'd been us delivering the blows.

There's more to be said, of course, about this episode -- about Pete's pathetic driver's ed flirtation that ends with him feeling even lamer than when Lane knocked his legs out from under him; about Lane making a bold move on Joan that's somehow more charming than we thought it'd be when it was presaged in the season premiere.  But I don't get paid for writing this so I'm stopping here.

As a final note, John Flattery directed this gem of an episode, confirming that he's infinitely more useful and likeable in real life than his character Roger Sterling (did you know Mona, Sterling's ex-wife on the show, is Flattery's real life wife? I know!).  This episode makes Jon Hamm's more heavily publicized debut direction of episode 503 "Tea Leaves" (aka "Fat Betty") look like comparatively restrained filler.  Which raises the question: is Matthew Weiner just giving all the main players a swing at the director bat this season?  Will Elizabeth Moss's episode be breathless and neurotic and adorable?  Will Christina Hendrick's episode be super steamy, filled with X-rated double entendres?  Is January Jones' episode going to be frozen like her ice cream and her heart?  Oh, "Mad Men," I can't wait!


A final, final note for all of you Boomstick fans!  As if I needed a reason to be more obsessed with "Mad Men," Lane's wife on the show is played by none other than Embeth Davidtz:

 Whom you might remember as:

And of course:
Baby, you got real ugly.


It all comes full circle.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Help! Will Marriage Make Me Mature?

Are you guys familiar with McSweeny's Internet Tendency?  McSweeny's is Dave Eggers' publishing house, and the Internet Tendency is its daily dry, satirical humor site featuring hand-picked and well-edited columns dedicated to exposing varying incidents of injustice and silliness.  Fan (and my personal) favorite column is usually McSweeny's "Open Letters" section, self-described as "open letters to people or entities who are entirely unlikely to respond."  (Though the short imagined monologue, "I'm Comic Sans Asshole" makes an compelling argument for that category.)

My friend Ashley, whom you might know for her reviewing grammatical eye on my U SUCK @ GRAMMER posts,  just sent me this wonderful McSweeny's open letter that I wanted to share with you, called:

An Open Letter to People Who Judge My Single, Post-College Lifestyle

It's a must-read for late-twenties-somethings who still occasionally frequently engage in collegiate behavior of the moderate binge drinking kind, and it's a rallying cry for those of us who, despite having real jobs and real bills and even sometimes ownership of a few nice things, don't feel the need to stay home on a Friday night or "cook" "healthy" "well-balanced" "meals."

I could sympathize empathize with nearly every sentiment that author, and soon-to-be-generational-hero, Cleo Plagg puts forth, but the contrast she draws between singledom and married-dom got me really concerned.  You see, I'm getting married in a few months, and Ms. Plagg has me nervous that some transformation -- inexplicable to us single folks in the "before" time -- happens on the day of your wedding that leaves you forever lamer and probably makes your honeymoon suck a little.  I've tenaciously held onto my poor choices and irresponsible habits for so long that I don't think I would know what to do with outdoor patio furniture covers or a sober 11pm.  But some of her indictments of married people make me worry about what will happen to me come this June.

The biggest thing that got me was the author's question to her married friends: "Why do I have to make plans with you four weeks in advance?"  Because this particular issue, I have found, is almost universally true and completely distinct between my married and unmarried girlfriends.  So I ask, what is WITH the need to schedule time with married people four weeks out?  When you get married, do you really book up that fast?  Will I suddenly be reserving whole blocks of time for "marital reveling" and "opening Crate and Barrel boxes" and "ring-gazing" and "cuddling?"   Or will my married friends descend upon me and initiate me into a married club that meets every night and weekend for the next foreseeable month?  Like "Skull and Bones," only we meet at Pottery Barn and drink non-alcoholic coffee drinks on weekend nights??  Gone are the days of the impromptu pedicure or margarita -- and in are the days of in-law brunches and Container Store afternoons that "we've had scheduled for weeks now?"

Auntie Mame, my hero.
This led me into a downward spiral of other worries: will I start watching "Rock Center" instead of "Modern Family?"  Will I start eating sitting down at a plate on a table instead of standing over my sink eating out of the receptacle I purchased my food in?  If I'm eating on a plate, do I have to turn the TV off?   May I still wear last night's make-up to a brunch with grown ups that's too early for me to shower for? WILL I START WAKING UP BEFORE NOON ON  A SATURDAY?  WHAT DOES SATURDAY MORNING EVEN LOOK LIKE?  WHAT IF IT'S THE BRIGHTEST THING EVER!?!?  Will I start actually being productive on Saturdays, instead of using the five waking hours of Saturday daytime to pre-game for Saturday night?  How do I handle concerts? Do I start calling them "rock concerts?"  Do I start DRIVING MYSELF to rock concerts?

This "glass" is okay.
On that note, what's this "glass" of wine you keep talking about?  I thought it was called a "bottle."  And, while we're at it, this is MY bottle of dinner wine, did you want your own bottle?   I think for the next few months, I'm going to watch Auntie Mame and "Cougar Town" on repeat and comfort myself with the knowledge that some old people can be fun and drunks.  (Some of those people are married, right?)  Maybe the trick is just to never stop being ridiculous long enough to realize how ridiculous you are and start to contemplate being less ridiculous?  Looks like my 3am side-ponytail is here to stay.