Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I'm Back From Vacation And My Brain Is Bursting--Time To Swiffer The Cerebellum

Time for a good Clear-Out of the Cranial Crud, so let's just get on with it, shall we? Good!

1.  Why Can't I Quit You?    I am talking about my LoveHate, Daniel Day-Lewis.  Not to be tedious here, but my Longtime Readers know of my eleventy hundred year affair with this man and my dismay with his failure to A) reprise his Glory Days of The Last of the Mohicans by taking glamour roles and B) look handsome and dress well in public the few times he does surface.

Right now, the stars have aligned and three of my Favourite Things have come together as one:  President Lincoln, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, and DD-L, for a movie has been made of her wonderful book Team of Rivals and DD-L is playing Lincoln.  When I heard this news, I was elated and thrilled.  When I saw this picture of DD-L as President Lincoln, I was excited. 
Then I saw his picture from the White House Correspondents' Dinner, where he was (inexplicably) a guest of The Huffington Post.

There is no excuse for that haircut.  His next role is a 17th century Jesuit priest who travels to Japan.  It is in pre-production. It's like he doesn't even care how much he embarrasses me.

2.  Why Didn't Someone Yell Cut?  And speaking of President Lincoln and film, I could not be more outraged, disappointed, and saddened by the ridiculous movie currently in theaters (and which I will not name here) that turns our 16th president into some sort of occult action hero.  Why not Nixon or Washington, or, oh hell, let's grab a non-president with a distinctive and readily-identifiable persona, Benjamin Franklin?

from Amazon Studios
 Honestly, the whole premise offends me.  Oh, I know that I'm sensitive to Anything Lincoln--I get that.  But it's awful.  I really believe that the only reason the filmmakers and producers are getting away with this travesty is because there are no surviving direct descendants of the Lincoln line.

3.  Doesn't Anyone Else Speak English?  Now, back to books.  Those of you who actually read at my site may have noticed in the sidebar that I'm reading--off and on--a book titled The Whole Truth by David Baldacci.  It's not My Kind Of Book, but I got it because A) it was part of my campaign to broaden my reading spectrum and not be so snobby; B) it was only a few bucks in hardback when a bookstore was closing; and C) it is a genre that a buddy of mine enjoys.  So I'm reading this and I notice a sentence that rocks me up off my chaise longue and causes me to say out loud to no one,"Oh my GOD NO WAY IS THIS IN HERE!"  Here is the offending sentence from page 165: When the screams reached Anna's ear, she thought someone had injured themself.  

I. Know.  Go ahead.  Look up "themself" in the dictionary (or try anyway).  Look up "someone."  Now look up the rule governing pronoun-antecedent agreement, just for the hell of it.  Then try not to kill yourself at any point along the way.   And this sentence is only one example.  I took this sentence to lunch with a bunch of English teachers, and during our chat, I said, "I bet if I did a Fry Readability Assessment on this book, it would score only about a sixth grade level.  Seriously.  It's a New York Times best seller, and it's just so elementary.  It's a Guy Book, but it's just basic." My friend Caroline said, "Who's it by, now?"  I said, "David Baldacci."  She responded with a grimace, "Well, what did you expect from a former child star who has had a bunch of drug problems and all that?  Wasn't he the one from The Partridge Family?"  (Gotta love her. But she just had a baby and a job change and...well, she gets a pass from me.) 

Now, I look at David Baldacci's bio.  He has a ton of best sellers to his credit and I have...zero.  He established the Wish You Well foundation, which, ironically, supports "family literacy in the United States by fostering and promoting the development and expansion of new and existing literacy and educational programs."  In the acknowledgements of The Whole Truth, he thanks his editor for doing a great job.  (But who allowed this sentence on p. 270:  Creel was actually a private investor in the newspaper and he'd been the one who'd discreetly behind the scenes orchestrated the assignment for her.)  And the Fry?  I was wrong. 

Hard to see, but my dot indicates the score. Maybe you can click and it will enlarge.
It graphed out at a 6.5 grade reading level, age 11.5.  David Baldacci is a Good Guy, but his writing is not for me.

4.  Speaking of bookstores, I want to come clean publicly for being The Responsible Party, The One Who Singlehandedly Closed Borders.  I'm sorry.  It was I.  I was the one who simply stopped going to bookstores and chose the Evil Convenience of Amazon.com.  I didn't even browse Borders and have cappuccino or biscotti or any of those other fun words to say at their cafe.  I was lured by the comfort of my chair at home and Super Saver Shipping.  I felt dirty and sinful and like a Horrid Opportunist when I swooped in and grabbed cheapo hardbacks during their Last Days, like the warty old women bartering over Scrooge's bedcurtains.  Please don't hate me.  I want redemption,  Help me.

5.  Finally, if you are sick of Sudoku and finding crosswords too conventional, allow me to introduce you to Jotto.  I have no idea how I found out about this addictive and frustrating little words and letters game, but it's too late to blame them now.  You're welcome.

Your turn.  Kick out some of your Cranium Clutter in Comments.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

If You Want To Date My Son, You'll Have To Take A Quiz

Jared and Sam are wonderful individuals, but like most of the people in whose lives I take great interest, they often don't give a damn about what I say.  This is Irksome at the level of, say, their taste in clothing or their driving habits, but it becomes something more Momentous when it involves A Young Woman.  It is one matter when Jared wears only Christmas-themed boxers as his underwear of choice and Sam cannot stop speeding on Route 480; it is quite another when they start Getting Serious with The Wrong Women.

It does no good to remind them that I certified as a marksman with a .22 caliber rifle, either.  They know that A) I do not own any gun but a BB gun, and B) that was back in my freshman year of college.  (Neither of those is any comfort to the Robber Squirrels at my bird feeder, though! Ha!)


In order to assist them--and me--in their quest for An Acceptable Woman, I developed a quiz.  I urged them to administer the Quiz to any and all prospective girlfriends before they got too terribly serious with them.  It's easy, I reminded them, to be bewitched by a lovely smile, cute figure, and ready laugh.  But it's vastly more critical to be able to relate to, talk with, and be interested by her.  Some things can be overlooked (she calls it "fro-yo", wears PINK across her butt, hates cats), but the young woman has got to have some brains, after all.

I've published my Acceptable Woman Quiz here, for you to see.  The Quiz and its Scoring Guide are available as separate pages on the blog simply by clicking the tabs up top.  Let me know what you think. 

Sam's current girlfriend passed with a good score.  Jared didn't administer the Quiz to his girlfriend...yet.  He said, "I think she'd do pretty well." 

I hope so!  ;-)

Thursday, June 07, 2012

In Which I Find A Soulmate In ConFic, Analyze Myself, And Engage You In My Quest

One day during a long ago (circa 1990s) Creative Writing II class, I overheard one of my writers say, "When they get that big, they're just not...fun anymore!"

Immediately, the entire room was blanketed in that sort of unified silence that occurs unexpectedly, and every single student stared at little Jennifer Lewis, who was not even five feet tall and happened to be wearing her cheerleader uniform, thus rendering her even more adorable.  She got very, very pink and quickly said, "Feet!  Feet!  I was talking about feet!"

Ah, Jennifer!  It was wisdom like that--and your startling talent--that got you all A's in CW.

For now, much to my great dismay, it is The Season Of Feet.  They are Everywhere.  I cannot escape them.  No matter the venue, be it grocery store, bank, pet supply shop, department store, or restaurant, feet are all over the place.  At least I am no longer in my classroom, where I would have had to be confined with as many as twenty pairs of feet in various stages of undress every forty-five minutes, five times a day.  Highschool students, especially this unseasonably warm year, would have started wearing The Dreaded Flipflops as early as March.

Ugh.  When did Flipflops (Called THONGS back in my childhood, that term means something entirely different now.) become appropriate Public Footwear for middle class adults?  Who first broke this Societal/Class Barrier?  Bring her to me!  Off with her head!  Honestly, I thought I was alone in this discomfort with and dismay over flipflops (Arrgh! The name alone is irritating, juvenile, and Seussian!) until I read Jonathan Franzen's novel Freedom.  In it, the character and sometimes-narrator Patty bitterly muses about young people:

"I have some issues with their flipflops.  It's like the world is their bedroom.  And they can't even hear their own flap-flap-flapping, because they've all got their gadgets, they've all got their earbuds in.  Every time I start hating my neighbors around here, I run into some...kid on the sidewalk, and suddenly forgive the neighbors because at least they're adults.  At least they're not running around in flipflops, advertising how much more laid-back and reasonable they are than us adults. Than uptight me, who would prefer not to look at people's bare feet on the subway. Because, really, who could object to seeing such beautiful toes? Such perfect toenails? Only a person who's too unluckily middle-aged to inflict the spectacle of her own toes on the world."

Once I read that, I stopped to consider:  Am I against that footwear because I merely hate my own feet, or because I hate feet in general?  Or is it a symptom, like Patty's, of a deep dislike of teenagers and/or twentysomethings?  I concluded thusly:
1.  I do dislike my own feet.
2.  I hate all feet in general, excepting baby and toddler feet. (The Jennifer Lewis Rule)
3.  I like teenagers as a rule; always did.
4.  I am routinely annoyed by twentysomethings as a group, but don't often dislike them individually.

Look, adult feet are ugly.  Even if you tan them up, grease the cracked heels, grate off the skin rinds, and polish the nails (but lay off the greens and blues--urk), they still spend time hanging out at ground level in public.  Those are the facts.  They do a utilitarian job for about sixteen hours a day and look it. Multiply that over the span of years a person's been walking. THAT IS WHY WE HAVE GREAT-LOOKING SHOES AVAILABLE. 

And, hey, all that Maintenance Stuff up there?  That is Pedicure Business, which I'm not having.  Even if you call it the cutesy "pedi."  Do. Not. Touch. The. Feet.  I don't even like to recognize the fact that I have feet. Except for the purpose of owning the aforementioned GREAT-LOOKING SHOES.  Which leads me to...

My Brown Sandal Dilemma.  Briefly touched upon in comments in my previous post, I am locked in a years-long search for the perfect brown sandal which, should I find it, I will buy all pairs of it in my size (8.5), thus forestalling another quest for as long as possible.  Here are my

1.  Flat, but some arch support
2.  Nothing between my toes
3.  No ankle strap
4.  Show as few of my toes as possible
5.  No flowers or flowery decoration
6.  No gladiator styling
7.  Reasonably priced

Why is this so hard?  Where is it, this Brown Sandal Of Nance-Nirvana?  It is gone, too, the way of Mars Bars and Sane Republicans.  Heavy Sigh.

Instead, I suffer daily with Flipflops and...well, you know the rest.  On the upside, two of my nieces are expecting this fall.  Soon enough, there will be four little Democrat baby feet to play with. 
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