Wednesday, December 3, 2008

8 for 8, Times 2?

I know my deep and abiding love for Michael Phelps is no secret. (If you need convincing, just look at my Sonic commercial a few posts below.) Today I bought my second box of Michael Phelps cornflakes, and I'm hoping Santa leaves another one for me beneath the tree so I can send away for the free poster.

Anyway, this blog isn't really a plug for anything, although it may seem like it after you read the next few sentences. It's just a strange coincidence I wanted to philosophize about for a few sentences. Michael obviously made history when he (and his teammates in some cases) won eight gold medals in Beijing this summer. Before every race he listened to the musical stylings of Lil' Wayne. Now this musical inspiration has a chance to make an eight-win sweep of his own, having just been nominated for eight Grammys. Honestly, I don't listen to Lil' Wayne, and I don't care if he wins all or nothing, but maybe the Chinese are right about eight having some mystical powers. Maybe if I buy six more boxes of Michael Phelps cornflakes, the man himself will appear outside my apartment. Maybe.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Proofreading the World...One Sentence at a Time

First Edition

I found my first example of a Lynne Truss-worthy grammar mistake just a few moments ago. My apartment complex hired a company to put up some Christmas lights, so the company's trailer is parked in the lot right now. The trailer lists several bulleted reasons why someone should hire its workers to put up festive holiday lights, but one of them actually seems to be a deterrent from hiring the company at all. Here it is: "No job to big or small."

The sign should say, "No job
too big or small," meaning that jobs of all sizes are welcome. But the company used to instead of too, so it has several possible meanings, none of them anywhere near the original intention. As is, I could infer that the workers perform no job for people who are big or people who are small--only average-sized people should ask for their assistance. Even worse, it could also mean they won't put up lights for anyone big, small, or anywhere in between, leaving themselves no clientele unless someone figures out how to exist without having a mass. Good luck. This is the exact opposite of the intended meaning.

Even so, I'll still enjoy the Christmas lights the company puts up around my apartment complex and welcome in the spirit of the season. In fact, this grammatical error was the best Christmas present they could have given me. Merry Christmas from the Grammar Goddess!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Queen of English Reads, Writes, and Laughs

Amid all my craziness last week, my major project was completing a research paper for my young adult literature class. I didn't really get started writing until Wednesday afternoon, and considering that it needed to be about eight pages, I felt crammed. But the topic made everything better. I investigated Nancy Drew and tried to find her successor in a young adult mystery series today. In all my searching, I found a great new series that seems to be made for me, no matter that it's not like Nancy Drew very much at all. (It made for a great contrasting paper....I hope.) I completed my rough draft on Saturday night after feverishly writing all weekend, so on Monday morning I needed only to finish revising this draft.

Rewind to a week ago, when I emailed the author of this series with a few research questions after my professor recommended that I do so. I hadn't heard back from her, so I figured I either wouldn't at all, or wouldn't until it was too late to add the information to my paper. No big deal. Wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles, when I checked my email yesterday afternoon, just before I was set to make some major revisions, what was in my inbox but a response from Alane Ferguson herself? She was so excited that I liked her series and wanted to answer my questions, but she wanted to do it by phone. I called her and we had a forty minute conversation, mostly about the series, but covering a wide range of topics. She calls Twilight "chick porn," a title I find fitting, and she is having a very busy Thanksgiving. The best part of all: she told me I ask questions better than some reporters. That's a big compliment, considering that Nancy Drew was sometimes known as "Girl Reporter."

I'm recommending the book to everyone out there. I loved it because the main character wants to become a forensic pathologist, so it has all those cool science clues I'm used to from "Crossing Jordan" or the CSIs, but presented in a realistic way. The main character Cameryn's "got spunk," but there's nothing in it that would make you call it "chick porn"--always a plus. It's the best mystery I've read in a long time. There are two other books in the series after the one I just devoured, The Christopher Killer. I'll keep you posted.

After all my hard work, today I got a prize for turning in my paper. Once a week, the university has a guest lecturer for the entire campus, and I've been looking forward to this speaker for a while now. Her name is Lynne Truss, and she probably has more claim to the title of Queen of English. For one thing, she is English, speaking with the accent and everything. Her main claim to English fame, however, is her book "Eats Shoots and Leaves," also known as "Eats, Shoots, and Leaves." See what a difference punctuation can make? I haven't actually read the book yet, but it just shot to the top of my list. Lynne Truss said she goes around "proofreading the world," a hobby I also enjoy mostly because it makes me laugh when you find the humor behind meanings that weren't intended. If you don't think you could stand a narrative about the power of punctuation, I challenge you to read "Eats Shoots and Leaves" without laughing. Proofreading the world will soon become your new hobby, too. (And now that I've gone on this English tangent, I hope everything is punctuated correctly.) In future editions of the Birthday Card Philosopher, I hope to add little tidbits inspired by Lynne Truss about my experiences proofreading the world. Until then, mind your comma placement.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Patience is a virtue

Sorry for the delay in posting, and this won't even satiate your appetite for new words from me. I'm a college student. I'm in the middle of the busiest month of the semester. I work fifteen hours a week, I'm in class fifteen hours a week, I need to sleep and eat and find time for homework, so sometimes the blog gets put on the backburner. Here's a promise that I'll return by next week.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sonic, the Ultimate Drink Stop

This summer, one of my mom's major goals was for us to create our own Sonic commercial. She keeps them in business with her frequent trips through the drive-up during Happy Hour. Here's our attempt at a Sonic commercial. It's a little outdated, since we made it immediately after the Beijing Olympics. Watch for the moment when we play our new favorite game, "Touch the Wall," wherein the basic object is to touch the nearest wall one hundredth of a second faster than your competitor. Enjoy, and remember, Sonic Happy Hour happens every day from 2-4.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Sitting in for Paula Abdul...

Tonight one of my roommates wanted to attend an event on campus called "Italian Idol." Basically, American Idol for the Italian club at my university. When we arrived, I saw a list sitting on the table with these auspicious words at the top: "Sign here if you're interested in being the guest judge." Seeing one name already on the list, I was thinking I wouldn't get picked, so I added my name just for fun. But as time went on, I kept regretting my decision more and more. This could be embarassing. What if I needed to speak Italian? Not going to happen.

Soon, the moment came. I crossed my fingers, praying that the other name on the list was called, or that many more people had signed up. The emcee announced, "And as our guest judge, we only had one person sign up, so can we have" and of course, she asked me to come to the front. Well, I figured I might as well make it cool. So I acted like I just got called to be on The Price is Right, only not as enthusiastically as some people do. Two other judges shared duties with me. To my left, an Italian professor and former mission president. To my right, a student studying Italian and current Italian 101 teacher. I'm not really sure which was Simon and which was Randy, but I was definitely Paula. At this point, I was thinking, "At least it won't be like American Idol, where we have to make comments after everyone performs." But Paula isn't known for being the brilliant one, and just like her, I was wrong.

Of course, I shouldn't brag, but I do have experience judging talent competitions. I once judged the fourth of July talent show in the metropolis of Mackay, Idaho. Population: somewhere around 600. However, the film stylings (aka plagarism skills) of Mr. Kirby Lords would not have taken the top prize at Italian idol. These performers channeled everyone from Pavaroti to Norah Jones to Dean Martin. Naturally, the Dean Martin-esque performance won. Who could go wrong with that old Italian classic "Volare"? Of course, when it came time to make the final decision, they started conversing in Italian. I might have said "si" a few times, but really, I was in way over my head.

Anyway, this year while I'm watching American Idol I'll be a little bit easier on Paula. It's not so easy to come up with intelligent comments in thirty seconds. Sometimes it's easier just to be nice. Straight up.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dejavu, and a tornado, too

At the risk of limiting my blog to discussions of the Writing Center, I promise right now that my next post will not involve the Writing Center. That said, here we go. Since beginning work at the Writing Center, I have instances of dejavu almost every day, sometimes three and four times a day. I'll see a face on campus and KNOW I've seen it before, up close, one-on-one. Usually, those faces come from students I've helped at work, but not all of them do. Maybe it's just college starting to catch up with me. All the years I have under my belt come with faces attached, even if those faces are only vaguely familiar.

And, just to get something else about the Writing Center out there, today was a tornado! I helped a student every moment of my three hour shift, and I'm sure almost a dozen students voluntarily left. The waiting line was over an hour long. Surprisingly, and happily, this busy-ness did not tire me out. It's actually invigorating to spend so much time on those levels of thinking without being too attached to the assignment. It clears my head for when I need to write. Like right now. I'm off to analyze a book for my Juvenile literature class. I'd recommend this one: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor. I see it as To Kill a Mockingbird from the perspective of an African-American family.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Adventures in Writing

I just started a new job at my university writing center. It's strange how liberating it feels to talk one-on-one with your peers in a semi-professional atmosphere. Especially male peers. This week alone I've helped a pre-med student with some of his 31 application essays, met a member of the men's rugby team, and discussed the satirical ethics of Michael Phelps' genetically gifted body. Yes ladies, I got paid to talk about Michael Phelps with a guy. Talk about job perks. And those are just clients.

Our writing center also has one or two eligible tutors who I interact with for hours at a time. For the first time in my college career, I'm feeling seriously attractive on a daily basis. One of my co-workers (a girl) even told me today that I resemble a sexy librarian. Finally, I've been recognized for my resemblance to Marion the Librarian from River City, Iowa. But now that I'm having those tentative feelings of "should I or shouldn't I?" with co-workers, I'm starting to
discover new questions about co-ed dating. What if he's already got a girlfriend? What if I'm wrong, and I'm reading his cues wrong? What if I asked him out? Well, world, what if?