25 July 2019

Wherein the Author Takes on Words and Expressions, the Cliches and the Misused

Hey guys, How have you guys been? As I write this there are some guys painting a neighboring house. There were just some other guys who walked by but I don’t know anything about them. There were some guys at working talking about the Mueller hearings today. I saw a little bit of some guys questioning him. I think Mueller is a decent guy. He’s the kind of guy who takes his work seriously. I think some of the guys on the Republican side didn’t care about the facts of his investigation. I don’t like those guys. I like guys in government who care about the other guy. As you guys might have noticed I’ve been trying to make a point about a particular word that a lot of guys use all the time. Some are teachers who always say things like, “okay you guys get out your worksheets.” I never call my students guys. In fact I try not to use the word guys at all. I’ve seen tweets in which the “author” starts off by saying, “guys…” sometimes with the word “hey” in front of it. Enough with the guys. Am I right? Let me know what you guys think.

Another grossly overused word — maybe I’ve mentioned this one before — is “grab.” People grab something to eat or specifically grab lunch or dinner or breakfast or a snack. People grab a coffee. Sometimes you’ll hear something like “we’re about to have our meeting, will you grab Bob for me?” Of course people also grab things like papers, books, magazines, you name it. At the gym once I heard someone say that they were going to grab a shower. Really? Better than that was hearing someone say that they were going to go outside and grab some sunshine. Enough with the grabbing. I grew up being told grabbing was rude. Stuck with me, I guess.

You know what else irritates me? Pre-planned and forewarned. Unless there is post-planning and being warned after the fact I don’t know what’s wrong with saying something was planned or someone was warned. Come to think of it, I’ve also read and heard “planned in advance” which is far better than if you, say, plan a party after having it.

Speaking of planning, one of my least ever phrases is when you propose a plan and someone replies, “sounds like a plan.” When asking a question does anyone ever respond, “sounds like a question.” When you make an announcement does anyone ever say “sounds like an announcement.” Imagine if after General Eisenhower had laid out the details of the D-Day invasion some idiot colonel had said, “sounds like a plan.” He’d have been courtmartialed.

I just read a famous novel in which a character “thought to himself.” I’ve read many books, fiction and non fiction alike, and numerous articles of different kinds in which someone relates having “thought to myself” or tells of someone having “though to himself” I suppose to “herself “ too. I’m about 100% sure that one can only think to oneself (excepting, of course, those with mental telepathy). How about if instead of writing: I thought to myself that it was a strange thing to say, people write: I thought it was a strange thing to say.

This isn’t a complaint but a question: you’ve heard people say, “he gets on my last nerve” haven’t you? So have I. I wonder if getting on someone’s last nerve is worse than getting on their first one or on one of the middle ones. Also, how do people know which order there nerves come in? Speaking of nerves, you’ve probably heard people say, “you’ve got a lot of nerve saying something like that.” Isn’t having a lot of nerve a good thing? I believe it to be the opposite of being hesitant, nervous, scared. Yet people complain about others having it. Weird.

What’s up with the word up? It is frequently added to words to create a phrasal verb .This is all well and good, but often the addition of an up is redundant. The word throw needs the up to create a term for vomit, throw up. The word look needs the up to create a term for finding something in a library or on-line, look up. To describe a competition that could go either way one has to add up to toss to create toss up. However….The up in meet up is unnecessary. You can simply meet someone you don’t need to meet up with someone. There is no need to link up to things when you can just link them. To clean up one’s room is no different than to clean other than the superfluous use of up. Other examples include: heat up, wait up, eat up, coach up, fill up, hurry up and yes I could go on (and often do). But one more thing: something fairly new is lawyer up. It always sounds like something a yokel would say. “I hear Bud is going to lawyer up.” Sounds better to me just to say that “Bud is going to get a lawyer.” Anyway, whose name is Bud anymore?

Speaking of books….You ever see this on a book jacket quote from a critic or fellow author, “a real page-turner.” Frankly I’ve never read a book that did not require me to turn the pages (never used Kindle, never listened to an audio book). I dare anyone to try reading a paperback or hardcover book without turning pages. So telling me I’ll have to turn the page is no selling point. Another quote frequently used is: "I couldn’t put it down." Here again I’ve never read a book that I couldn’t put down. When I’m exhausted and have to get up the next morning I can put a book down with no problem. Likewise when reading on a bus or subway I easily put books down when I get to my stop. Also, if I’m hungry and am told dinner is being served I again gladly put down a book. In all cases I may not want to put the book down, but I sure as hell can. Then there’s tour de force. Can we stop with that one already? It’s been done to death.

Thus spoke Zarathustra. 

14 July 2019

On Not Writing Here, On Not Protesting and On a Few Other Topics As Well

Anti-War Protest in the Sixties, Before the Internet
I'm writing out of a sense of obligation. I've had this blog for over 11 years and for most of that time I've posted once even twice or three times a week. Last year my number of postings fell of significantly and through the first half of this year I've barely posted at all. I don't flatter myself that there are people all over the world who are waiting anxiously to hear from me, but in having a blog I feel duty bound to post now and again. Actually, as I write these words I'm not sure why I've been feeling so damn guilty about the recent paucity of postings. But I do. I did start a post a few days ago, it was one of those in which I rant and rave, perhaps later in this writing I'll get back to that abandoned post. Suffice to say when I stopped at one point to take a look at what I'd written I was not pleased.

It may be surprising that while I've hardly updated ye olde blog these past few months I've been writing more than ever. However it has almost exclusively been directed to completing a novel. I "finished" it about a month or so ago but have since been adding, subtracting, pruning and fussing over the damn thing. Before I start peddling it I want the book to be the best I can possibly make it.

I love writing. I like stringing words together into a cohesive sentence and sentences into a cohesive paragraph and paragraphs into a cohesive story or essay or review or critique or commentary or anything else that another person might read and enjoy or be edified by.

The blog post I started and never finished recently, was an angry screed about how my friends on the left express their outrage at the political nonsense in the US these days and how they don't express it. They do express it with angry tweets, clever GIFs and memes, outraged letters, petitions signed comments posted. They do not express it by hitting the streets and demonstrating. It boggles the mind that the US is separating families at the border, keeping children in cages and denying asylum seekers basic human rights and we haven't had massive demonstrations in Washington DC and every other major city in the country. In the Sixties there was no Twitter nor for that matter any internet so people protested by getting off their asses and marching. It began with the Civil Rights Movement and continued with protests against the draft and the war in Vietnam. There have been any number of outrages perpetrated by the current administration in DC and only a few have spurred demonstrations. They should be going on damn near everyday. Realistically maybe every week or two. The internet has made everyone lazy. So that's what I wrote about but it came off like I was a hectoring old fool and not a sober reasoned individual so I dropped it. Come to think of it this paragraph reads a little like the frothing of an aging radical. Aww the hell with it. Point made.

Other topics....

I saw this quote on Instagram: "There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." To me it summed up the difference between being depressed and happy. (I spend a lot of times yo-yoing between both worlds.) Nothing impresses you when you're depressed. Nothing seems beautiful, unique or interesting. When you're feeling good, of course, it's the opposite, you are aware of and delighted by the wonders of the world

I heard someone the other day going on about how indifferent they were to soccer how they didn't really like it, found it boring and found some of the tactics confusing. The person went on to say how he would watch it whenever the US men's team was playing an important match. This little story perfectly illustrates why I so vociferously root against the US in men's soccer (that's football, to the rest of the world). While other countries love the sport and follow it year round you have millions of Americans whose only interest in the game is to see the damned United States beating some other country. Disgusting. Let soccer glory go to the people who appreciate the sport.

The Internet Movie Database is an invaluable source of information on virtually any and every film and TV show ever made. It is a must have site for film fans regardless of what type of movie you like. However it tries desperately to cater to young people whose idea of movie-going is taking in the latest blockbuster at the nearest multiplex. For example every day on their front page they list five people from the world of cinema who were born on that day. Today was typical in that they had someone named Phoebe Waller-Bridge and someone else named Scott Porter but omitted one of the greatest and most influential directors of all time (and my favorite) Ingmar Bergman. For some reason I look at the daily birthdays every day and every day, like today, there are one of two or even three people who I've never heard of, then  later -- perhaps on twitter -- I'll see that is the birthday of some iconic film star or director who IMDb did not deem worthy of mentioning. For "Top News" IMDb typically has five or six items and invariably there's news about garbage like Spider-Man, X-Men, or the latest proposed sequels, remakes, a reboots, prequels in addition to news about what's been killing it at the box office. It's like they hardly consider film an art form at all.

I have some ideas for future blog posts -- many have been kicking around in the cavernous regions around my brain  for a long time -- that may at last be coming to this blog. First, of course, I've gotten to get that novel done and dusted then prepared for submission, query letter, synopsis and all. No estimate on when that will be but it could be in weeks (whether that's two weeks or sixty two weeks remains to be seen). Thanks for reading (assuming you did).