Mr. Watson

So I’ve noticed something, and don’t know whether it should concern me or if I’m just being an old stick-in-the-mud.  Help me out here, people.  I’ve seen this little meme or photo macro or whatever you want to call it floating around lately, and the basic gist is “I fear for a world run by kids that received trophies just for participating and have never been spanked.”  True enough.  Good point, nameless internet person. Wisdom.  But then I also think that our parents said essentially the same thing about us, and for God’s sake, how many of our moms and dads got kicked out of the house during the 60’s and 70’s for smoking pot, listening to “that rock-n-roll trash” or smoking (GASP!) weed?!?  No, I think the future will be just fine.  It’s evolution.  It’s the job of the younger generation to question the older, and also hold it responsible for its actions, its wars, its recessions, etc.  Ain’t always gonna see eye-to-eye.  It’s natural.  It’s good.  It’s right.

“No, dad. I said FUCK SOCKS!! Go ahead and kick me out. YOU KNOW I’M RIGHT, MAN!”

However…

Something that I’ve picked up on recently makes me wonder if there isn’t a seismic shift underway in our society.  I’m not saying it’s good or bad: I’m just saying the world is going to be very different in a generation, and it has nothing to do with technological advances or the divorce rate or gay marriage. No, it’s the overall familiarity that has permeated everything.  EVERYTHING.  It’s a casual society now.  When the President of the United States of America shows up in a suit with NO TIE and possibly smoking a cigarette, you know something’s up.  Sports bars are on every corner, and yet the martini bar is an endangered species.  (True, shows like Mad Men have brought them back from the brink a little bit, but it’s a losing game.)  And while familiarity is all well and good, it seems like there’s a wholesale lack of respect getting ready to run away and make things…messy.  As an example, I have never once been called “Mister Watson” by any of my kids’ friends.  Not once.  I have been called “Mister Turner” by some, and I guess that’s better than nothing.  And I’ve seen this in other kids, not just the ones my boys run with.  The ONLY people that get the old-school treatment are schoolteachers, and even that is fading.  My kids have referred to their pre-school teachers in the past as “Miss Kay, Miss Jill” et. al.  I seriously don’t remember some of the kids’ teachers last names because, well…I never heard them.

Pictured: Miss Kim gets tired of dicking around and does this shit herself.

When I was a kid, it was always “Mrs. Gillenwater” or “Mr. Crabtree.”  I never even knew Mr. Crabtree’s first name.  He was this older, towering, greying person who called my friend Chris in for dinner.  I didn’t NEED to be on a first-name basis with him, and frankly preferred it that way.  It would never have occurred to me to show up at the Crabtree home, knock on the door, and when the father answered say “Hey, Doug!  Is Chris home?”  That’s some Eddie Haskell shit, and it just…we just didn’t do that.

Yo, Ward! You gonna pass that dutch?

Maybe I’m just too old-fashioned, but it seems like putting the kids on a  first-name basis with the adults makes them feel a bit, um…entitled.  And don’t get me started on how kids today wouldn’t even think about using “Yes, sir” or “No, ma’am.”  It’s just language that’s fading from our culture.  What does it mean for the future?  I don’t know.  It’s happening in the workplace right now.  We refer to our General Manager at work as “Jim.”  Heck, the old C.O.O. was simply “Tony.”  In the old days the most powerful man in the company would’ve been “Mr. Richards.”  Is this better or worse?  Seriously, I don’t know.  I tend to be very old-fashioned in most respects (many of you have seen how I dress from time-to-time) but maybe this is the way the Little Guy feels like he’s on the same level with the Big Guy, even if he isn’t.  Is that so bad?  I’m a Little Guy, so I can’t really say.

I guess time will tell.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Comment below, sir or ma’am!

Your Kidding.

I love this.  This title.  I love it because Grammar Nazis begin foaming at the mouth at the sight of it, not realizing that I’ve deliberately poked them on their collective schonzolas.  And also because that title is grammatically correct…within a certain context.

Example:  Someone overhears me talking about the cruel joking and kidding I was subjected to at work. (No, really!  Happens all the time!)  They ask me whose kidding was the meanest and harshest.  With a cold, steely glint in my eye, I turn and through gritted teeth spit “YOUR kidding.  It was DARN NASTY! Everyone else’s was good-natured.  Your kidding, however…  Just too much.”

And scene. So.  We’ve established what sort of blog this is to be, haven’t we?  The kind where I actually defend the semi-illiterati that spam your Facebook wall with an insane amount of poor grammar, spelling, and punctuation.  This will also be the sort of blog where I take someone to task (going to try and do more of that sort of thing in the coming months) and folks, this week it’s the notorious Grammar Nazi.  See, I know the beast well.  I happen to be married to one, my family is rife with them, and I almost slipped off the ledge of self-righteousness myself and joined their ranks.

Can we call them something else, please? My grandad killed real Nazis. The guy that corrects your apostrophe placement seems a bit less scary than Hitler. That’s all I’m sayin’.

To be fair, the Grammar Nazi in most cases actually thinks they are providing a service to society.  They see themselves holding back the flood linguistic contamination and perversion.  They like their language the way it is and hate to see it evolve.  I once felt that way.  About words like “duck tape.”  People, it’s “duct tape.”  Adhesive tape designed for metal duct work, like your central air conditioning system.  However, at some point people either got lazy or (I like this explanation better) the tape got reaaaalllly popular outside of the duct and metalworking communities.  Most of the laymen and housewives using this miracle tape did not know how to spell or pronounce “duct”  and likely didn’t even know where in their house to find one.  They heard the repairmen yelling “Say, Frank…toss me a roll of that d*** tape!”  It sort of sounded like he said “duck.”  So, “duck tape” it became.  And now there’s a company that actually calls itself “DUCK TAPE” and has, ironically, moved beyond simple “duct tape” to sell a complete line of weatherproofing and adhesive-natured products.

I get it, though.  Everything in the world changes, and some people don’t fancy that at all.  Fair enough.  After all, I’m the idiot in slicked-up hair and a fedora.  I understand.  But there are also people who become Grammar Nazis just to feel better about themselves by thinking less of other people.  Or just to give themselves the feeling of literacy, class, and social standing.  But the problem is that language is constantly changing.  If you get a chance to go to the library or a used bookstore,  find a textbook from, say, 1948.  Swear to God, some of it will be hard to follow.  Perhaps they use the old English (but not Old English) spelling of “plow.”  That is to say, “plough.”  The textbook might use two words to say “toward.”  Seriously, some people back in the day would say “to-wards” or even “to-morrow.”  Guess what?  It got shortened to one word.  And that’s a big factor in the evolution of language: convenience.  Contractions, for example.  When’s the last time you used the word “cannot” in regular conversation? Be honest.  Seriously, the only time most of us use “cannot” instead of “can’t”  is when quoting that made-up George Washington line about telling lies.  “Can’t” is where it’s at.  Quicker to spell, easier to say.  Like “Won’t.”  If Tim Burton had used the original phrasing of that contraction, one of my favorite lines in Beetlejuice would have sounded like this:  “That is why I will not do two shows a night any more.  I will not.  I will not do it.”  Huh!  Dr. Suess wrote Beetlejuice?!?  Mind=blown.

No, no! The OTHER Beetlejuice!

It’s evolution, baby.  Outside of the Bible and Shakespeare, no one uses “thee” and “thou” anymore.  Words like “faggot” have changed meaning so much over the years that they are now considered very offensive.  Think about it: our children’s children will probably start using a then-outdated word like “laptop” to replace some of the other horrible hate-filled connotations of today.  “Bro, stop being a laptop and do the shot!”  And that brings me to my next point.  The Pandora’s Box of our modern times.  The Internet.

Well, make that “The Internet and Texting.”  Shorthand rules everything these days, from Twitter limiting the number of characters you can use to people texting one-handed whilst driving down Coldwater Road.  Acronyms have been around for ages.  “POSH” meant “Port Out, Starboard Home” for people taking pleasure cruises that wanted the best possible view from their staterooms.  “AWOL” means “Away WithOut Leave.”  See how in the old days “With-Out” was two words?  Evolution.  And that whole sentence got shortened to “AWOL.”  LOL, amirite?  ROTFLMAO!!

Seriously, nobody cares.

But the message is still being delivered!  Can you understand parts of the Bible, even though it uses archaic words and phrases?  Of course you can.  Can you figure out when the birthday party is even if “Your invited!  Be their at noon!”  Yes.  Yes, you can. You get the message because of the context.  But the Grammar Nazis go CaTCUB when they see this sort of thing on Facebook.  Yes, we get it.  There’s a difference between “their, there, and they’re.”   Also, “your and you’re.”  We get it.  We know there’s a difference.  And you know what else?  We. Just. Don’t. CARE.  Get over yourselves.  It’s entirely possible that in the next century, all three spellings of “there” will blend into one.  Likewise, “to and too” will be interchanged.  Think about it: we use the word “you” to address one person or a crowd of people.  Nobody seems confused by this.  It just happens.  Hell, English is one of the few languages on this wonderful Earth (or as Will Smith would say, “Erf”) that doesn’t have separate male and female articles!  We use “The.”  The Man.  The Woman.  The chainsaw.  It’s simpler that way, right?  Right.  Simplicity.  It’s the nature of language, and it happens all the time. Constantly.  Maybe it’s happening faster nowadays, due to the speed of information and the pace of life.  Maybe advertising has changed “cheese” into “cheez” and “light” into “lite.”  Okay.  So what?  So things sound less fancy.  Big deal.  Maybe it’s because I’m a believer in the little guy, but that shit doesn’t bother me.  Can you infer my meaning from my status update?  Good.  That’s all I care about.  Put some flowers around it, make it sparkle.  Good for you.  And thanks, Grammar Nazi for keeping the scary outside world at bay.  Your the best!

Please, Grammar…don’t hurt ’em.

Randomsauce With a Side of WTF and The Lord

Okay, another place holder here.  I’m working on a humdinger.  Not to brag or nuthin’, but it’ll make those Nickelback and Big Bang Theory posts look like that Seahawks-Rams game last Monday night.  But you’ll have to wait on that one, chief.  Patience…

In the meantime, I need to “purge my cache” so to speak.  My wife wants me to do an entire blog on how much I love to say “goddammit.”  I don’t know if there’s enough source material there, but we’ll give it a little test drive.  See, lots of people will tell you that “God Damn It”  is what we call “using the Lord’s name in vain.”  I have empirical  proof that this is not the case: the Episcopal priest that married my wife and me is my star witness.  He told me that every time he smashes his thumb with a hammer or his shin finds the coffee table in the dark of night, “GODDAMMIT!” is the first thing out of his mouth.  This fact in and of itself is not the support for my claim.  It’s just an awesome story, and it’s fun to imagine Father Shane in his priestly wardrobe hopping on one leg and cursing like a sailor.  Oh, in my vision he’s also staggeringly drunk.  He’s Episcopalian, after all.

Pictured: The Rectory at St. Paul's

But his argument backed up my own notions (as all good arguments do.) His rationale was that to truly “use the name of the Lord in vain” is to use His name for your own purposes.  Think “TV Evangelist.”  Or Tim Tebow compelling the Lord to get the ball across the goal line.  Or even praying to win the lottery or cure your disease.  To take it even further (and make a little more sense to me) it is also to say you speak for God, especially when you want others to do your bidding. “God told me to outlaw the gays!  And the single moms!  And the single gays!  And married ones, too!  OUTLAW ALL THE THINGS!!”  It gets worse when you get an ayatollah or other religious leader basically claiming to have a hotline to The Big Guy and The Big Guy wants you to vote for said ayatollah because basically they’re so tight that they’re totally the same person.  BFF!  Yes, claiming to be God would be a fair description of “using the name of the Lord in vain.”  I like to think  that God has more important things (COUGH! DARFUR! COUGH!) to worry about than whether you mentioned his name when you totally slice on the thirteenth.  But that’s just me.  And my priest.

Changing subject.  Why the hell is the light under the escalator green?  It’s ALWAYS green.  The color of glowing evil.  It’s like Minas Morgul is under your feet. Or the Loc-Nar. Think about that for a second.  It’s bad enough that you worry about your shoelace getting caught and ripping your goddam (!) foot off at the ankle in a spinning, whirring, jagged set of evil mechanical teeth.  Maybe there’s also a Nazgul down there.  Or worse.  If you’re old enough, you’ll remember the old trailer for “Alien.”  It was simply a space egg cracking open and evil, glowing, green light-stuff pouring out.  Fuck. That. Aliens, an eternal evil consciousness, and the Witch King are all waiting for you to fall down the goddam steps of the escalator so that they can feast on your soul.  And you’ll totally spill all of your purchases from JC Penney all over the goddam place.  Horrifying.

Third floor: bathware, linens, and the overthrow of humanity...

You guys know that I love old stuff.  I only mention it, oh, EVERY GODDAM TIME I BLOG.  But there are some old things that I don’t get.  Like when we used to think it was acceptable to go out in public in Zubaz pants and aqua socks.  And we did that shit.  Sorry, man…it was the early-nineties.

This shit actually happened.

But old expressions sometimes confuse the hell out of me.  One such turn-of-phrase is “Catch as catch can.” What the FUCK does that mean? I mean, are there other ways to say that without being confusing as hell?  Maybe someone could, oh, I don’t know…come up with some synonyms? Oh, wait! Merriam-Webster has done that for us!  How about some of these: aimless, arbitrarydesultory, erratic, haphazard, helter-skelter, hit-or-miss, scattered, slapdash, stray?

Actually, now that I think about it, I might just start using “catch-as-catch-can” instead of words like “haphazard” (which is equally ridiculous, when you think about it.)  An example: “This sure is one hell of a catch-as-catch-can clusterfuck!”  Or “The Titanic surely would still be afloat if not for that catch-as-catch-can construction!  Goddam Irish!”

"Lifeboats? You want fekkin LIFEBOATS?!"

Anyway, there’s this week’s blog, goddammit.  Sorry if it was sort of catch-as-catch-can.