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Thursday, November 30, 2006

In the name of the Galactic Senate of the Republic, you're under arrest, Chancellor.

Everybody needs a hero. And guess who is Michael's hero?

I can hear the collective sigh: At least it's not Carrot Top.

Michael ADORES Samuel L. Jackson. To be more specific, he loves Master Windu, the character Mr. Jackson plays in the three Star Wars prequels. Master Windu is the second-coolest Jedi (nobody can top Yoda, of course) and he has a PURPLE LIGHTSABER.

For obvious reasons, Michael is not allowed to watch this movie, even the first part of this clip. I don't think he could handle it. He just gave up his mohawk so he can look as much like Windu as a skinny white boy could look.

Pay attention to the cracked streets and the broken homes

I don't blog about work, but for those who are at all interested in my 9-5 life:

If you see this on Thursday evening or Friday before 6pm Mountain Time, watch our latest newscast. You can stop watching after six minutes or so, but the first two stories are about a project I'm working on.

If you're reading this after 6pm on Friday, no need to click the link - it automatically re-directs to the latest CBC newscast, so the story will be gone.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I want to be famous

I've realized why paparazzi do not follow me around, despite my remarkable intelligence and stunning good looks.

I've been on the celebrity blogs, and Britney, Paris and Lindsay all have something I don't have: Crotch shots.

Yes. In the last 24 hours I have been treated to:
1. Close-up pictures of Britney Spears' vagina.
2. Close-up pictures of Paris Hilton's vagina.
3. Close-up pictures of Lindsay Lohan's vagina.

No, perverts, I am not going to post any of these pictures. This photo shows dear Ms. Spears' legs being held together by the always-demure Miss Hilton. I am still trying to bleach my retinas after the sight of the other pictures.

I don't know why it took me so long to come up with this idea. It probably has something to do with the fact that I don't wear super-short skirts because it is -35 here. Either that or the fact that I wear underwear because I am trying to stay herpes-free.

If a person with no discernible skills except crotch-flashing can become famous, I don't see why it should be so difficult for the rest of us. I mean, this hike-up-your-skirt motion has to be pretty easy. From there it would be a simple task of pivoting your hips at the exact moment the cameras started to flash: "Oh, dear! Whoever would have thought that photographers would want to take pictures of me? This NEVER happens!"

And then it would be a sweet ride to fame and fortune. And maybe herpes.

Uncle Nate

You probably did not know this, but my uncle Nate has a GIRLFRIEND! AW GROSS!

And guess what? He SAYS he does not kiss her, but one day I was sleeping over at his house and I waked up really early and nobody else was awake and I TOTALLY SAW HIM KISSING HER!

I wanted Uncle Nate to look really funny so I drawed him with a mohawk. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Love, Michael.

Editor's Note: It is worth mentioning that Michael has a long-standing crush on Nate's girlfriend, and that although Nate does NOT have a mohawk, Michael does.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Some call it slums, some call it nice

No blog post today. My back hurts and I'm tired.

It turns out that I spoke too quickly

My back hurts.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Seatbelt: 1; Rear bumper: 0

I got in my first car accident on the way home from work. I was waiting at a red light when a guy crashed into my rear bumper. (In case you were wondering: no, I did not apologize.)

My entire body shook. I can completely see how a person could have muscle problems after this type of accident. I am still a bit freaked, tentatively checking the different muscles in my neck and back. Thankfully, I feel OK.

The other guy apologized profusely. I think he was relieved that I wasn't angry. I can't be mad: it is wickedly icy out there and he is new to town. Heck, he still has square license plates. He offered to pay, so we exchanged information and he said he would call me tomorrow.

Talking like a Canadian

That’s LIKE a Canadian, not TO a Canadian (this would be a short-lived American TV series, indeed, with an undiscovered comedian traveling Canada to film wacky people who don’t know anything about the United States).

Lesson #1: Never say “aboot”.

Nobody says this, so just stop trying to be funny. You sound like a moron. The only people who say this are Americans who have never met anyone from Canada. And don’t call people “hosers”. I think Bob and Doug Mackenzie made this up and the Americans actually believed them.

Lesson #2: Put a question mark at the end of declarative sentences?

This one takes some work, because if you overdo it, you sound suspiciously like a Valley Girl. The goal is to give the impression that you will back off from what you’re saying if anyone else takes offense:

I went out in my car? And I drove to Tim Horton’s? And I got a double-double?

Lesson #3: Say you’re sorry a lot.

It is true that Canadians will apologize even when they’ve done nothing wrong. For example, if someone steps on my toe, I will apologize. If someone comes running down the hallway without looking and bonks into me, I will apologize. This is true. You are actually expected to apologize when someone does this. It sets off a chain of serial apologies: “I’m sorry!” “No, I’m sorry!” “No, I’m sorry!” Ideally, other people will jump in and start apologizing for not warning you that the person was running down the hallway. Or the building designer will apologize for putting hallways in such an inconvenient location.

Lesson #4: Insist that you don’t have an accent.

Canadians, even those from Newfoundland, think they don’t have accents. We will, however, tell you that YOU have an accent.

In all seriousness, there is no Canadian accent. The accent that most people think of as Canadian is really the Upper Canadian accent. People talk this way in Toronto. And believe me, there is not much that’s worse than sounding like you are from Toronto. The only thing worse would be sounding like you are from Texas. It would be better not to speak at all.

There are a number of regional accents across Canada, most notably the Newfoundland accent. This is probably best considered a dialect instead of an accent, because Newfoundlanders have thousands of words that are spoken nowhere else (they actually have their own dictionary). It is a cross between an Irish accent and a Cape Breton accent.

Lesson #5: Say “Canada”.

That’s “Cah-nah-dah”. Not “Keeya-neh-der.” We will spot you a mile away.

Lesson #6: Say “eh”, but not as often as you think you should.

Yes, we say “eh”. But for heaven’s sake, it is not as funny as some people seem to think. We don’t say it all the time. I probably say it twice a day. Use it in the same places you would say “huh” and that will be plenty, thanks. And never, ever write it down.

Lesson #7: Memorize the important words.

Those would be “washroom”, “toque”, “Timbit”, “poutine”, and “mickey”.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

What's in my MP3 Player?

Our admin assistant from four assistants ago (at our office, this is about nine months) says I like drag-queen music. This is probably related to the fact that when I was a teenager, most of my friends were gay. We listened to a lot of ABBA. Well, ABBA and a weird elevator-music-style CD called Pan Flutes by the Ocean, but that is an entirely different sort of story.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

More Magic

Magic Coins

Canadian idiots

Lately I have been spending a lot of time wondering which I hate more: Canadians or Americans. I hate Canadians because they are so unbearably humourless and defensive, and I hate Americans because they are so unbearably hypocritical and stupid. But today I think we may have a winner: I definitely hate Canadians more.

Now, don't get me wrong. I like some Canadians just fine. But as a group, they are so unbelievably hoity-toity that I just want to vomit. You see, Canadians hate Americans. (As opposed to Americans, who just hate other Americans.)

This is probably going to be a huge shock to my readers south of the border, who think of Canadians as easy-going Americans with funny accents and colourful money. You are wrong. Canadians hate Americans. And why, you ask? They hate you because you don't know very much about them. I am not joking.

In Canada, this is unforgivable. We actually have comedians who do entire TV specials about how little you know about us. These specials blow their competition out of the water every time.

I don't know if Al Yankovic knew what he was getting himself into when he parodied Green Day's American Idiot with his song Canadian Idiot. But boy, oh boy, are the Canadians ever steamed. You thought Kazakhstan was mad at Borat. If Weird Al ventures north, he will be attacked by angry Canadians. If you thought the protests in the Middle East were horrifying, just wait until Weird Al is met at the border with stony silence. They will just give him a LOOK, and he will know how serious this is. When they walk past him, they won't say they're sorry. They will probably call for a Royal Commission, just to show that they mean business.

If you venture onto YouTube and look for other fan videos of this song, you will notice that the Canadians are making a concerted effort to make sure everyone knows how they feel about this slap in the face. Here are some exact quotes, which I swear I am not making up:

i find this song offencive, cause I AM CANADIAN!!!

WTF bitch wats with the canadian flag upsidedown ass. I dont care if its meant to be funny its just f[CENSORED]ing disrespectfull

wtf do you have against canadians. america is the county that sucks. there is nothing to be proud about of being a american so don't make fun of other country's when you're own sucks!


OK, should I break it to these morons? Is it even worth pointing out that this song is making fun of Americans who don't know anything about Canadians?

Friday, November 24, 2006

007 had me fooled

I happen to be a fan of the James Bond movies. This is partly because you always know what to expect. An insane person tries to destroy the world, but James Bond kills him and his henchmen and along the way makes love to several beautiful and scantily-clad women.

So you can imagine my surprise when I left the cinema tonight after seeing Casino Royale.

Casino Royale
is -- wait for it -- an ACTION movie.

I can hear you yelling "But ALL James Bond movies are action movies!"

See, I didn't think that. I thought they were parodies. Like Austin Powers, only with a smaller smirk. Women who say things like "Can you fit in, Mr. Bond?" or "I only date men with really big...FEET." Men who are either uber-baddies or mere scenery. These always seemed to be parodies of the spy genre, but perhaps this is because I am generally unfamiliar with spy movies anyway.

This James Bond does not generally shoot people. He prefers to hit them REALLY REALLY hard. He has no exciting gadgets: no invisible car or boot rockets. He does, however, carry around his own defibrillator. Good heavens, what's next? A spy with his own personal box of Ex-Lax?

There is, of course, a love interest. Her name is -- wait for it -- Vesper. I am guessing that exactly three of my readers will know what Vespers is. But seriously, Vesper? Aren't 007's girlfriends supposed to have names like Allota Fagina? There are no gratuitous nudity shots of her, either. She actually showers with her clothes on. There are a few beach shots, with the water sensuously trickling down a semi-nude body, but it's BOND'S body.

The bad guy does NOT want to destroy the world. I will not go into the details because I don't want to wreck it for people who want to see the movie. But this is not your typical Bond villain. He is not even the real bad guy: he's SCARED of the real bad guys. A wimpy Bond villain? What is this?

Don't get me wrong: I really liked this movie. But I am going to have to re-evaluate what I thought a James Bond movie was supposed to be. Is it possible that they were meant to be serious all this time?

I came, I saw, I conquered

Today’s episode of Little Miss Know-It-All: Parallel Construction.

I’d like to see a show of hands on this: Who would like to make their writing clearer, easier and shorter? Great!

Now, another show of hands: Who would like it if the things they read were sharper, smarter and didn’t ramble on and on about something really boring that completely broke the rhythm that the author was clearly trying to set up? Great!

Parallel construction is a big fancy phrase that really just means that words or phrases are connected. By keeping similar parts of the sentence in the same form, you can link them together in a way that makes sense to the reader:

Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.

Your manuscript is both good and original, but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.

Parallel construction is quite delightful when used correctly. Its patterns can give a sentence emphasis and power:

We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

It can even be used throughout a speech or document to create emphasis and power:

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up…I have a dream that my four little children…I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama…I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted.

Unfortunately, it can be painful in the wrong hands:

There are things we know we know, things we don’t know we know, things we know we don’t know, and things we don’t know we don’t know.

Technically, this sentence is OK as far as parallel construction goes. However, it smacks of a grammatical riddle I once heard: Tom, where John had had “had”, had had “had had”. “Had had” had had the teacher’s approval. This is BAD parallel construction, but thanks for trying. The other mistake I often see is:

Thanks for coming to my birthday party, bringing a gift, and the flowers are really nice.

Ouch. Or:

There are reports that the boy was beaten, molested and is now a drug addict.

Oh dear. CNN should have known better.

These errors are jarring to the reader. They set up an expectation that the sentences will end a certain way. Then they break that expectation. When done correctly, parallel construction makes your reader think that you know how to write, that you’re in control of your words, and that you’ve put energy into getting it right. Remember that you are writing a list, and that everything in the list must be in the same form: nouns, gerunds, infinitives, phrases or clauses.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

Steve and I do not agree about what makes the perfect stuffing.

He is partial to a bland, dry, crumbly mixture of pureed bread mixed with savoury and onions. This is heated (“cooked” isn’t really the right word) in the oven or on the stove and served with gravy. It fills the space on your plate between the overboiled potatoes and the overboiled cabbage. It can also be sprinkled on French fries before you slather them with gravy. Actually, Steve doesn’t call it “stuffing” at all: in Newfoundland, they say “dressing”.

My grandfather makes the best stuffing. I’ve tried to explain it to Steve’s mom, but the repulsed look on her face always assures me that I’m not making any sense. My grandfather’s stuffing is made with chunks of bread, onions, eggs, celery and goodness knows what else. All I know is that it’s delicious. Delicious and three-dimensional. Unlike Steve's version, it would not blow away if the wind picked up.

There is no point in making any extra effort with the stuffing at my house. Using sausage or nuts or apples or corn bread would not score me any points. I once tried to follow my grandfather’s recipe and ended up with a lot of leftovers because Steve would not even taste it. What will he eat, you ask? The stuffing-in-a-box made with shriveled Melba toasts and stale spices mixed with yellow dye.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Adventures in live TV

I had a relatively injury-free career at the national broadcaster. The worst thing that ever happened to me during a live hit is that my boots once froze to the lake I was standing on. This happened while I was covering a dog race at a local festival called the Caribou Carnival, which also featured muskox burgers and seal sausages. (This is all true.)

Fortunately, I was never in TV broadcasting.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I solemnly swear that I am up to no good

PEWS Can Grow Longer

A confession (ha!): I don’t know much about the cardinal virtues. I do know a fair bit about the seven deadly sins. This helpful mnemonic will help you to remember them in the proper order. From really, really, really bad to just really bad:


I studied the Divine Comedy in university, as did everyone who went to my school (it’s required reading for all students). At that time, the course was taught by Father Robert Crouse. An Italian-poetry scholar might be able to confirm this, but I seem to recall that he is, or was, the world expert on the Divine Comedy.

I don’t recommend the Paradiso. Everyone is happy, so it is pretty boring.

If you are into hopeful pain and suffering, the Purgatorio is the book for you. I wrote my research paper about this book – it is nicely divided into sections of misery, from people with giant stones on their backs to people with their eyes sewn shut, to people standing in a wall of fire. You can’t negotiate your way out of having to go through the wall. Nice try, sucker.

If you are a slow reader, you will probably get stuck in the Inferno. (Ha! Ha!) The question is whether you get stuck in the mud (glutton!) or in a desert of burning sand (sodomite!).

One of the students in my year was asked during the oral exams why Dante needed St. Bernard to help him get into heaven. The urban myth was that the student’s response was “Because all dogs go to heaven”. I, of course, rushed to consult my notes, and learned that it is because you need the eyes of a saint to get into heaven. I remember this much more clearly than I remember any of my classes in Canadian history.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Taking the "sex" out of "asexual"

This is a variation on something a friend of mine says. A friend who is no longer close enough for me to poke at or argue with. *sigh* Everyone is leaving me.

Last night, during an argument over whether it is OK to eat lots of candy, Michael made what he clearly considered to be the ultimate threat: If I did not give him candy, he would put his hands in his pants. He was prepared to put his hands all the way past his underwear, he informed us.

I tried not to laugh. My dad (an expert in comma usage and human relationships) pointed out that this is a peek into the way my son thinks my mind works. Sadly, this is probably true.

I am a prude. An old-fashioned prude. My aunt asked me to expand on this once, and I discovered that I was so prudish that I was unable to even TYPE what I meant. I have my own version of Catholic guilt going on. I don't recall being formally indoctrinated when I was younger, but I clearly picked it up somewhere. Heck, that's why I got married when I was 20. (Several of my friends did the same thing. They are now divorced.)

I do have my theories about how this happened, but at this point they are just theories. I was recently informed that theories like evolution are not real, they are just suggestions. I'm sure that my own theories would fall into the same category.

In any case, at this point we are into harm reduction. I am not sure how to keep my son from turning out the same way. Obviously he has already picked up on something I was not aware I was projecting. This terrifies me. It is just a few steps from here to Bible stories that end with "Do you know what their punishment was?".

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Michael's Family

He runs, he is running, he ran

Today's episode of Little Miss Know-It-All: Verb tenses.

I am very impressed with my brother. It appears that he has not smoked away all of his common sense, after all.

He has pointed out that half of my post about the penguin movie is written in the past tense, as if we were finished watching it, and half of it is written in the present, as if we were continuing to watch it. As if it was haunting me in my dreams, constantly forcing me to re-live the nightmare.

He is quite right. I can only guess that this movie must have shaken me more than I thought. So this is a good time for a refresher course in verb tenses.

Simple Present: Use this for present actions:

The penguin Sanhedrin is running him out of town right now.

You can also use it for habitual actions:

They run him out of town every time he comes back. In fact, that appears to be their main purpose in the movie. They are probably plotting to run him out of town again.

Wait a minute! I was right! This IS a proper use of the verb "to run"! Whew, I thought I might be losing my touch. Thank heavens.

But wait! Although this particular verb was used correctly, I can see that I erred in several other places. Examples #3 and #4 are clearly wrong. "Denies", "walks" and "try" are simple present: considering the context, they ought to be in the simple past.

Simple Past: Use this for completed actions that are not continuous:

His girlfriend walked out on him three times.

They all tried to kill him.

You see, this is where I erred. (Simple past: Little Miss Know-It-All's errors are definitely NOT continuous.) I am not sure how this happened. I am going to have to do a complete review of my protocols and procedures. Actually, this should probably be done by an external contractor to make sure there is no political influence. This will be a transparent process and results will be reported to the public. The first step will be to find a contractor who is qualified to conduct this sort of review. It definitely cannot be done by someone who puts commas before quotes (this isn't a narrative!), who uses "Sanhedrin" like a proper noun (it's THE Sanhedrin, duh), or who puts a space and a capital letter after an ellipsis. Good heavens, finding someone who's qualified is going to be a chore.

Present Perfect: Use this for actions that begin in the past and continue into the present:

I've been an insufferable know-it-all for many years.

My brother's been just as bad as me throughout that entire time.

Future: Use this tense when you are writing about something that's not happening now, but will happen in the future. There are three ways to use the future tense:

Little Miss Know-It-All is going to remember this treachery. She is writing again tomorrow, and her brother will be sorry.

Present Perfect Progressive: This might be my favourite verb tense. Oh, and the Mafia's favourite, too. It means that an action started in the past and is still happening:

I have been quite good about not posting embarrassing pictures of my brother.

Or maybe my favourite is the future conditional:

Future Conditional: Use this to talk about imaginary situations in the future:

It would be a pity if that had to change for some reason.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Just Fine

Freaked-Out Feet

I want you to imagine that you are the parent of a six-year-old. Of course, you trust the MPAA implicitly (you know this because the MPAA tells you so). This means that a G-rated movie should definitely be OK for your kid.

But the rating's not the only thing you rely on. You also watch movie trailers to give you a sense of what the movie's about. Here's the version I saw. Go ahead and click the link. It will only take 66 seconds, and I'll still be here when it's over.

Looks like a happy movie, right? Happy Feet? Can't go wrong, right?


Michael and I went to see this movie last night with a friend and her 2-year-old and 5-year-old. Now, bear in mind that Michael watches lightsaber battles without flinching. He spent this movie on my lap, with his face buried in my shoulder for half of it. I was reminded of the time my mom took me to see Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. I am not sure which was worse:

1. The little penguin's father, who tells him that he's not good enough because he can't sing.

2. The penguin Sanhedrin who run him out of town the first time.

3. His girlfriend, who denies him three times before a cock cr...oh wait, wrong story. That should be "walks out on him three times before the middle of the movie".

4. The vultures, sharks, seals, humans and other penguins, all of whom try to kill him with varying degrees of success.

5. The penguin Sanhedrin who run him out of town the second time.

The little penguin spends most of the movie off by himself, having been rejected by just about everyone else. It is pretty depressing, especially when they leave him all alone on an ice floe. The clip above is from the very end of the movie, when the tide suddenly turns and everyone is happy.

And here's the most confusing part: the penguins are happy because the humans decided to stop overfishing after they saw the little penguin dancing in a zoo. I agree that this does not make sense. No member of our species would spontaneously decide to stop overfishing because of a dancing penguin. There are millions of caribou in Alaska and this has not stopped people from wanting to drill for oil in the wildlife refuge.

This might be a good movie for a kid who is old enough to think that cartoons are just for babies. So I'm pressed to imagine who the target audience for this movie could be.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Round here

Where do these guys get off suggesting that I could be mistaken for a Canadian?

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: North Central

"North Central" is what professional linguists call the Minnesota accent. If you saw "Fargo" you probably didn't think the characters sounded very out of the ordinary. Outsiders probably mistake you for a Canadian a lot.

The Midland
The West
The South
The Inland North
The Northeast
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

My shadow's the only one that walks beside me to put this? Remember my son?

Well, we've already established that he's a Pete Seeger and Randy Travis fan. But it doesn't stop there. I am a bit nervous about revealing this, so I might as well just jump into it. If you are, for example, my mom, you might want to stop reading.

This is...ummmm...

*deep breath*

This is Billie Joe Armstrong. I am not entirely sure how Michael became a Green Day fan. I do have a feeling that this is not going to go over well with my mother, who spent a lot of time during my teenage years talking about a "hidden song" on one of my brother's Green Day albums. She was not sure what it was about, but she was certain that whatever it was, it wasn't anything good.

Good heavens, you would think that his nervous system was already scarred from years of substance abuse.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Another reason I love Canada

I PROMISE not to mention Rick Mercer except to note that this is a clip from his show.

Okay, who around here knows who Pierre Burton is?

*looks from side to side*

You guys make me sad.

Pierre Burton was a journalist and a companion of the Order of Canada. Geeks like me will be interested in this collection in the CBC Archives. He died in 2004, and his CBC obituary is here.

Before he died, Mr. Burton appeared on the Mercer Report with a celebrity tip. This appearance was especially notable because it was immediately discussed in a desperately intense way by various CBC personalities, who wanted to know what it meant for the CBC. This went on for a week. I am not joking. You know, our national broadcaster would be much better if it wasn't so fascinated by itself.

On the YouTube site, this video has been flagged as inappropriate for some viewers. These can only be American viewers - this aired at 8pm on CBC.


"Bad Grammar"

Today's episode of Little Miss Know-It-All: Quotation marks, also known to our British friends as "inverted commas".

Once upon a time, I believed that everyone understood how to use quotation marks. That was before I started reading the birthday cards my grandmother sent, as opposed to simply taking out the $20 bill and casting the card aside. Whenever I get a letter that starts Dear "Megan", I never wonder who it's from. I only know one person who puts my name in quotes, as if it wasn't ACTUALLY my name and the letter-writer wants to make sure I know it.

When I mentioned this to my dad (after a particularly atrocious Dear "Nat", as I recall), he said that this is her way of saying that we are special. Nice try, Dad. My grandmother is a great person and I love her dearly, but she suffers from the same affliction that so many small-business owners and signmakers have: She thinks that quotation marks are decorations to draw the eye to important words.

Quotation marks have a few uses, mostly in narrative writing and in snarky writing like this blog.

Direct Quotes: The most common use for quotation marks is to indicate that the words inside are the exact words someone else said:

"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education."

"During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet."

"I didn't like it, I didn't inhale and I never tried it again."

You'll see a variation on this in lazy newspapers: the single-word quote. In a newspaper, this usually means that the writer wants to be bitchy but feels like it would be unethical, so he is letting someone else be the fall guy for the bitchiness:

Politicians Consider "Unconstitutional" Law

This way, you see, the reporter's butt is covered. Putting things inside quotation marks gives the newspaper the ability to put the statement off on someone else - always important in the news media, I assure you.

Quotes within Quotes: Our British friends do this the other way around, but I'll explain how we do it here in North America. We use double quotes (") for the main body of the quote and single quotes (') for the extra little bit in the middle:

"It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is."

"It depends on how you define 'alone'."

This is as good a place as any to mention that in the States, you put the last punctuation mark inside the quotation marks if that's where the sentence ends. In Canada and other Commonwealth countries, the last punctuation mark goes inside the quotation marks only if it was part of the original quote. I explained this in more detail about a month ago.

Snarkiness and bitchiness: People like me, who never stop picking on others, sometimes use air quotes. On paper, these look like regular quotation marks. Put these around words that you are using ironically, cynically or in some other unusual way. If you're speaking out loud, this is where you would curl your fingers next to your face and turn up your nose to indicate your intellectual superiority:

A very important person has just told me that someone "inferred" that I am a jerk.

Who would like a "download" about my recent conversation with an important person?

Titles of Books: Use italics or quotation marks to indicate the names of books, movies, etc:

I like to watch "Seinfeld".
I like to watch Seinfeld.

Absolutely, Positively Wrong: Never ever ever use quotation marks just because you think they draw attention to something you've written. I don't want to know that "apples" are on sale at your supermarket, because it makes me think that you're not really selling apples. And if you're paraphrasing someone else's words, don't use quotes:

Some guy said "that you are a jerk".

Seriously, I want to download you about "what we talked about".

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A winner

I must admit that I have been overwhelmed by the sheer number of applications to take over the blog during the last days. (YOUR last days, not mine.) Clearly, I am something of an icon and many people look up to me. Heck, hundreds of people want to BE me. There were so many worthy applicants that it was hard to choose.

First, I must thank the dozen or so people who indicated that I would probably not have any trouble running the blog myself after the rapture. Your faith in me is admirable, but at this point we really do have to make plans, not congratulate each other about our greatness.

For privacy reasons, I will not be naming the winner of our contest. He does not need to be overrun with godless sodomites looking for my autograph. I am practically in exile already. Wandering in the wilderness, you might say.

We do have a clear winner. All of his meals include ingredients that were produced more than 100 miles from his home, so he's obviously an enemy of the environment. He leaves Arby’s wrappers in the back of his SUV. He listens to the Dixie Chicks, and after work he likes to unwind by setting American flags on fire with other burning American flags. He’s friends with Maureen Dowd AND Ann Coulter. He’s in favour of stem-cell research, but only to save the lives of other stem cells. He hates universal health care, the Barenaked Ladies and Tim Horton’s coffee. He has no idea who Ben Mulroney or Sacha Trudeau are. And he can’t seem to make up his mind about gay marriage.

I think we can all be quite sure that this fellow is doomed to the lake of fire. He’ll probably be thrown in twice. So you can rest easy, knowing that your daily blogging fix will still be available after I’m taken into the clouds. Of course, you might have to struggle through some liberal tripe for a while, at least until the earthquakes start and he’s blogging in the dark. But let’s face it, that’s probably all that’ll be available anywhere.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I brake for distilled spirits

I am still collecting applications to take over the blog in the last days. The signs are everywhere. I'm telling you, the sky is already dark here. How much more do you need?

I saw a fascinating bumper sticker the other day as I was driving to work. There's no better use for a $20,000 car than as a sticker book, I say.

Anyway, this particular sticker caught my eye.

In case of rapture, this vehicle will be unmanned.

I must congratulate the writer for reaching a new level of snarkiness. I'd bow at his feet, except that I don't turn to idols. I'm leaving that for the person who wins my contest. This sticker is a simple yet direct way of making the following points:

1. I'm definitely going to heaven.
2. You are not. Otherwise, there would be no need for this warning.
3. I think there's a reasonable chance that the rapture will happen while I'm driving.
4. It's really funny to think about my car, suddenly driverless, plowing headlong into traffic. See how glib I am about it? That's because I think it's fun to joke about the deaths of innocents. Except that these people aren't innocent, so who really cares?
5. Too bad I can't put a warning on the front of my car too, so the pagans can see me coming in case of rapture. Oh wait, they are probably too busy living in debauchery to bother watching for my unmanned vehicle. Never mind.

It's better with your eyes closed

I take back what I said about the Cars a couple of days ago. This is definitely the worst video ever.

I am not a huge fan of the new INXS, but I did like them the first time around.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Welcome to a new kind of tension

Okay, crankies. You might have noticed that some people were left out of the family tree. Good heavens, I don't know what we have to do to make you people happy.

Because you have taken so much time to get to know my family, you have probably noticed that the seedlings of all sides of the family tree were not included. It is just too complicated to list everyone's children. So the extended family trees show grandparents, aunts, uncles and first cousins. It is way too much work to include second cousins or cousins' significant others or half-nieces or the multitude of infants who have appeared in the past six years. As my uncles will probably testify, I am not great at figuring out what my own cousins look like, let alone Steve's new cousins or the new crop of second cousins. This is not supposed to be the legal description of anyone's family. (If it was, I'd have made a few modifications to my side.) (No, not to you personally.) (HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.)

Seriously, if you were offended by the family tree you might as well leave right now, because it has got to be the least offensive thing we have ever posted on this blog. You would think I had insulted Canadian Thanksgiving or something. (HA HA! I would never do that. And if I did, I would definitely "apologize" right away.) (Note to self: Quotation marks would be a good Little Miss Know-It-All topic.)

I may have opened this door by including Steve's cousin's wife who has been around for 20 years or so. Sorry about this. By the logic explained above, she should not have been included. Avert your eyes when you get to that image. She's the one with the beautiful red hair.

Now, don't we all feel better?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The rest of the family

I figured I might as well finish the job before bed:

I don't think this group of people has ever been in the same room together. It has been five years since I've seen any of them, with the exception of my mom and dad.

Grammy GG: GG stands for "great grandmother". Michael has taken to calling my Grammy Dot this name, which is technically accurate but I still think the name is best on MY GG.

Grampy Sweet: I haven't seen my grandfather since my wedding day.

Grammy Dot: My mom's mom still lives in the town I grew up in, not far from my uncles.

Mom & Dad: You've met them.

Next line:

Uncle Butch, Aunt Mary and their kids: Butch was my favourite uncle when I was growing up. It's been years since I've seen their kids, and I've never met the baby, so I've made a wild guess as to what they might look like.

Next line:

Uncle Jim: Creating these little people has shown me just how little I know about some relatives. Most of what I know of Jim was acquired when I happened to be visiting my grandmother. Jim would pop in unannounced, ask her to cut his hair, and then complain about how he didn't like the way she cut it. He is sort of like the boogeyman: often a character in my uncles' stories, rarely seen in person.

Uncle Steve & Aunt Lori:
The baby of my mom's family, and his wife.

Steve's family

Okay, so I promised to do Steve's family. Here goes. I've done them all in one, because Steve has a set of double cousins. (Two brothers married two sisters.) Basically, what this means is that he doesn't have two sides of the family in the same way I do - they're all one big happy family.

Steve's grandfather on his mom's side and his grandmother on his dad's side have both passed away. I wrote about his grandfather as one of our first posts. I never knew his other grandmother or grandfather. The other two people in this image are Byron and Mona (Steve's parents). You met them yesterday.

Uncle Dave, Aunt Anita, Cousin Trevor, Cousin Lori: Everyone calls Steve's aunt "Neat". She and Uncle Dave still live across the street from the house Steve grew up in.

Aunt Isabel, Uncle Wayne, Cousin Kingsley, Cousin Charlotte:
Steve worked for his uncle for a couple of years, as did his dad and his uncle Dave. Isabel is a perfectionist (she uses a ruler to make sure her fudge slices are all the same size) so I shudder to think what she would say if she ever caught sight of my floors or, God forbid, the inside of my car. It is best not to think of such things.

Aunt Barbara, Uncle John, Cousin Bobby, his wife Ruby, Cousin Traci:
We've been away for so long that out of everyone in this part of the family, we know Traci the best. She moved to Halifax just like we did, and I wish we could figure out a way to get back there.

Aunt Shirley, Uncle Aubrey, Cousin Jason, Cousin April: I'm told that Shirley and Aubrey have recently escaped Newfoundland, as has April. Jason was in my year in high school, but I don't believe we've exchanged more than twenty words in the last dozen years. I should fix this next time we're on that side of the planet.

Think of this as an active request for actual photos of people. I really don't have any.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Family photos

Someone asked why there aren't more pictures on the blog of Steve growing up.

Sadly, there is a simple explanation: Nobody has e-mailed me any pictures of Steve growing up. These photos don't appear out of thin air. Someone has to send them to me.

I'm going to try and fix the situation. This is going to be a remedy over time, because there is a lot of work that goes into this.

This is my little family. Michael's hair is shorter than it used to be, and mine is longer than it used to be.

This is my family. Left to right:

Dad: My father's a priest. You can't see the cross around his neck because the guitar hides it, but trust me, it's there. Or just look in the comments section anywhere on this blog.

Mom: I don't remember my mom being a blonde when I was growing up, but I guess as you get older you start to look more like your kids.

Nate: My brother's now my closest relative geographically. When we were growing up, he was also my closest friend at times. (Matt was too young to play with.)

Michelle is Nate's girlfriend and is a nurse (hence the scrubs). Michael is secretly in love with her.

Matt: My brother's making his way through the real world these days. He's getting married next year to:

Sarah: I imagine Sarah as a sweet, long-suffering woman who is trying really hard to put up with Matt. She is wearing a gas mask for two reasons: 1) Like all men except maybe Bill Clinton and Al Franken, my brother oppresses women. He might as well put her in a burqa. He's forcing her - forcing her, I say! - to live in a cold climate that's bad for the lungs. 2) I've never met her and have no idea what she looks like. Would it kill people to send me a photo?

Ben: Ben is an engineering student, so he's always studying. When he's not studying, he's trying to ignore the craziness going on all around him.

Me: You already know everything there is to know about me.

Okay, so that's my family. On to Steve's family:

Steve: Yes, Steve exists. He's just not as into blogging as I am.

Byron: This shirt is all wrong on Steve's dad, but it's the closest thing to a lumberjack shirt I could find.

Mona: Steve's mom is a sweetheart.

Sean: Like my brothers, Steve's brothers are notable for their ability to find women who are way too good for them, and then somehow convince/bribe/drug them to stick around. Not that Sean and David aren't great guys. I'm just saying that they are very lucky in love. They might have ended up with a cranky bitch like me.

Adrienne: I've never met Adrienne but by all accounts she is a sweetheart.

David: This is Steve's youngest brother.

Erica: David's girlfriend used to be in the Sunday-school class Steve taught. She is sweet, shy and quiet. Basically, she is the opposite of David.

So that's Steve's family. On to my extended family. This is going to take a while, and I am very tired from creating all of these little people. I realize that there are two sides to my family and two sides to Steve's. I had to start somewhere, so I've started with my dad's side. I promise to get to both sides of Steve's family and the other side of mine when I have time to get all of the little people together.

Grampy Don: This venerable old man is the patriarch of my family. That's a big word, but I think it applies to my grandfather quite nicely.

Grammy Hazel: My grandmother died six and a half years ago, but when she was alive, she looked a lot like this. Her name was Betty, but my brothers and I all called her Grammy Hazel. I will tell this story some other time.

Uncle Bruce: My dad's oldest brother is a poet and a lover of words. Not a silly writer like me: a real poet who thinks deep thoughts in all seriousness. The last time I saw him, he was carrying a notebook stuck into the top of his pants so he could write down all literary ideas as soon as they came to him.

Uncle Gary: I honestly do not know what my uncle is doing these days. I do remember that he used to work for a lumber company that constantly ran ads on our local TV station, and that he was IN these ads, so we always watched them: "It's not ham and eggs, or ham and cheese. It's Hammond Lumber!"

Pat: I don't know my uncle's fiancee very well, except that she makes my uncle happy and so I am happy for both of them. It is odd but true that I know next to nothing about a person who has been in our lives for 15 years.

Dad and Mom: You've already met these two up above.

Uncle Rick: My uncle Rick has lived thousands of miles away from me for as long as I can remember. When I was little, he lived in Malaysia or some place on the other side of the world. (Thailand? Burma?) He's now settled down with a wife and kids.

Aunt Tracey: I can't imagine what it would be like to live with my slave-driving uncle, but somehow she puts up with him.

Ryan: My cousin and his younger siblings on the next line are basically strangers to me, since I've never met them. I have no idea what they look like, so I've made a guess. Perhaps someone can enlighten me as to whether I've come close or not.

Katy and Kohlton: I think her name is Katy. I KNOW it's Kohlton. It's one of those names that sticks in your head.

Justin: The last time I saw my cousin Justin, he was wearing a hat just like this. He's now about a foot taller than me. Admittedly, that's not hard to do (I am 5'2").

Jake: My cousin Jake should be a model for a company that sells relaxation products. He always looks amazingly mellow. I'm reliably informed that he writes poetry that is much more meaningful than mine. Admittedly, that's not hard to do.

Aunt Sharon: My aunt and my uncle Gary got divorced about 15 years ago, but she is still most definitely my Auntie. She's been a librarian for as long as I can remember.

This has been more work than I anticipated when I started this project. I promise to finish it when I have time. Don't worry, I'll get to Steve's family.

Friday, November 10, 2006

What's in my MP3 Player?

Man, this might be the worst video ever. Wasn't Ric Ocasek supposed to be cool?

I'm reliably informed (by Steve, my resident magic expert) that this walk-on-water stunt is a Criss Angel gimmick.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

This blog is not yet rated

It will come as no surprise to readers that, as a leftist commie pinko (or whacked-out Tory freak, whichever you prefer), I am a fan of freedom of speech. Hence my interest in documentaries about censorship. It's either that or I am part of a massive right-wing conspiracy.

This Film Is Not Yet Rated
is about the Motion Picture Association of America. You know, the guys who decide whether a movie is rated G or R. (Not our friends at CAP with their yellow/red ratings for movies you thought were OK.)

The MPAA is not technically a censorship organization. It is a national ratings system that removes the need for local censor boards. Filmmakers do not have to submit their work for a rating, but without a rating it's hard to get cinemas to take your movie. It can also affect the advertising that can be done for a movie. (I must admit that I am not entirely clear on why this is: it would seem to me that anyone should be able to buy ads for legal products. But I am a simple woman with a simple mind.)

The MPAA says that its ratings help parents to decide which movies they should let their kids watch. And I'm all for it. In fact, I think we should expand the rating system so it covers all media. Books, for example. A book like You're Gonna Burn, Pagan! would probably get a PG for mildly scary images, while a book like The God Delusion would probably get an NC-17 for extreme damage to societal values. You could only get it in porn shops and by clicking on pop-up ads on online gambling sites. This wouldn't be censorship, of course. It would be helping parents decide what ideas their children could learn about. Right on, I say.

In fact, we could go all the way and slap ratings on music, too. Under my rating system, U2 would be G. You could play it anytime, with anyone around. PG would be Green Day. Some people wouldn't like it, and that would be OK, because sometimes people are different sometimes. R would be Guns 'N' Roses. Not because they are bad, but because you just can't go around telling everyone you like Guns 'N' Roses, you know? X would be Muskrat Love by the Captain and Tenille, as performed by the barking dogs.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Greetings, godless sodomites:

Well, we all know how the election went. There can only be one conclusion. Clearly, the kingdom of God is at hand.

Yes, indeed. The rapture is close. 144,000 of us are going to heaven. The other 6 billion of you, along with billions of others who’ve already died, are going to burn. Get ready for fire, smoke and sulfur. The birds will gorge themselves on your flesh, and you will be tormented day and night forever.

But now is not the time for rejoicing. No, now is the time for planning. Obviously, someone is going to have to take over the blog after the rapture, because I won’t be around. Fortunately, we know that there will be a period of time after I’m taken up into heaven but before you burn in everlasting fire. That’s the time we must plan for, my friends.

I am now taking applications from people who are likely to burn. And let’s face it, just running the numbers, odds are that you’re one of them. I want to hear why you think you would be a good candidate to take over the blog after I’m taken up on a cloud for eternal rejoicing. And I don’t want to hear any wussy stuff about how you wear clothing woven with two types of cloth. I need to know you are really serious about staying on the earth during the end times AND keeping a record of your miseries. You’ll be dodging locusts, worshiping demons and gnawing your tongue in agony. What a fun time for you!

I’ll get you set up with water, canned goods and a lamp. You’ll need these things, because the water is going to turn to blood, the plants will be burned up, and the sky is going to go dark. There’s nothing in the Bible about losing your Internet connection, though, so that should be OK.

Taking applications starting…NOW.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

It's a blog's life

Today's episode of Little Miss Know-It-All: Apostrophe's.


Seriously folks, the poor little apostrophe is both overused and underused. I suspect that the word its is to blame. You see, our crazy English language is full of quirks. This common little word is an exception to Apostrophe Rule #1. Yes, there are rules!!! Don't make me come down there!

Apostrophe Rule #1: Possessives
When you need to make a singular noun possessive, use 's:

The chair's cushion is red.
The car's brakes are failing.

Now, its and it's violate this rule. Not to fear. This is really not that hard to remember.

I sat on the chair. Its cushion is red.
I took the car to the mechanic. Its brakes are failing.


Baby, it's cold outside.
It's annoying when people don't know how to use apostrophes.

This leads directly into Apostrophe Rule 2. Sorry to be condescending about this, but I really don't think this is that hard to grasp. Condescending is a great big word that means talking to people like they're (not their) stupid.

Apostrophe Rule #2: Missing Letters
This is going to be very exciting for people who have laboriously been writing phrases like it is and she has and do not all these years. You see, this funny little thing called an apostrophe can make your life easier! YES! And it's only $9.99 a pack. Call now, and you'll get a SECOND package of apostrophes, absolutely -- oh, wait. Never mind. Where was I?

Oh, right. You can use an apostrophe to turn do not into don't. See how easy that was? And now it's clear what it's means -- it's (har) clearly it is, shortened up ever so nicely with an apostrophe and ready for a night on the town.

But what's that I hear? You want to make a plural word possessive, you say? No problem! The apostrophe rushes to your side again:

Apostrophe Rule #3a: Plural Possessives

When you need to make most plural nouns possessive, use ':

Both chairs' cushions are red.
Both cars' brakes are failing.

This is very important. Otherwise you could end up with confusion over whether you have two chairs (both with red cushions) or one chair with two red cushions. Everyone still with me? Okay, we're now going to make a jump to irregular plurals. Can you handle it?

Apostrophe Rule #3b: Irregular Plural Possessives

You might, for example, be renovating the bathrooms in my building. Of course, this would require taking the signs off the doors that tell visitors which bathroom to use. Out of a sense of duty, you might decide to make paper signs for the doors. But -- good heavens! -- that would require the use of TWO irregular plural possessives! What to do, what to do?

I'll tell you what you should NOT do:


The signs bothered me so much that I made a new paper sign for the women's (note apostrophe) room. I just keep my eyes away from the men's (note apostrophe) door. It is just better that way, all around.

Now, I have only mentioned the big-R Rules for apostrophe use. Grammar geeks like me are aware of a raging debate over apostrophe usage for singular names that end in -s. For modern names, we often write Thomas's tank engine or Mr. Jones's book. But for names from the ancient world, we write Moses' stone tablets or Jesus' miracles.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Grinch

I have cropped this image so that my brother does not kill me. I will just say that the original is far more revealing (or, um, far LESS revealing HAHAHAHAHAHAHA) and that he will probably want to stay on my good side for as long as I have this blog.

I am going to get this out of the way early. I am a grinch. There, I've said it. It's not that I hate Christmas, although that's an easy shorthand. I hate the commercialism of Christmas.

Every year in recent memory, my brothers and I have picked names and tried to get gifts for each other. Every year in recent memory, this has been a resounding failure, mainly because we have relied on my parents as intermediaries: "Mom, can you wrap this and put it under the tree for Ben?" Sometime in August, we realize that the never-wrapped DVD is still on Mom's coffee table. Clearly, this system does not work.

If Christmas was just about being nice to other people, I'd be all over it. Instead, we end up with a holiday that is all about forced frivolity and guilt because you have to buy gifts for near-strangers.

I am usually the recipient of gifts that only show how little the giver knows about me. Socks, for example. And deodorant. Perhaps this is a not-so-subtle message that my feet and armpits stink. But there is nothing more personal than a gift certificate to a store I don't shop at.

They say that people give the type of gifts they'd like to receive. I think this is probably true, judging from the things I've received over the years (giant knick-knack, anyone?). But I also think that people give gifts that are easy to buy without thinking just because they have a list of people who need gifts. Not a list of people who need stuff. A list of people who need gifts.

Please don't buy me stuff just because I'm a name on a list at a certain time of year. It would mean a lot more to me if you gave me a gift some other time in the year because you saw something that made you think of me. I can say that as a giver, it is much more satisfying to do this than to tick off names on a list.

However, I am not delusional enough to think that this will actually work. For easy reference, I am going to provide a list of things I don't need. Please don't buy me any of these things. If you think I want any of them, you obviously don't know me very well and therefore should feel no obligation to buy me gifts.

Smelly candles, particularly those carved in the shape of flowers
Powdered latte mix
Granny panties
Teddy bears
Pedicure sets
Gardening tools
Christmas ornaments, particularly those that are available for purchase at dollar stores
Business-card holders
Slippers shaped like farm animals
Anything that you think would be a "charming keepsake"

If, after scanning this list, you cannot think of anything else to give me for Christmas, I hereby absolve you of any duty to give me a gift. And trust me, I'm already making plans to cross you off my list. I'm just a bitch that way. And a grinch.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Nigh's two meat ewe

Two daze episode off Little Miss No-It-Awl: Homophones.

Homophones seam bazaar sometimes. Aisle say this: its a cymbal of hour currant whirled that these things aunt taut inn schools.

Aye don't no if its gneiss oar rite four mi too brake it two ewe this weigh, butt elusions two this grate problem are throne around like bawls these daze.

Homophones our words that our the same when herd butt different when scene. Off coarse, sum thymes ewe mite knot no theirs a knead four a dictionary, but yule saver the weigh a word sounds. Mien wile aye am pealing myself of the sealing.

The lessen hear is that if ewe aunt shore witch word too rite, yule bee bettor of chequing a dictionary bee four ewe rite.

July 1990

As the only girl, I was the odd man out whenever my cousins came to visit. At home with my brothers, I was used to being the oldest and the best at whatever needed doing. Next to my cousin Justin, I wasn't the oldest, the tallest, the strongest, or just about any other -est.

This photo was taken during a visit to Maine after we'd moved to Canada, and it's notable for me not for what it shows but for what it doesn't show. When the camera clicked again about three seconds later, I had Justin in a headlock. My grandmother kept that picture on the green fridge you see behind us, probably held securely in place with one of the little Cabbage Patch Kid magnets in the corner. She gave me this one.

I forgot all about the incident, didn't realize there was a photo on display, and had no idea how much this irked my cousin until we visited Maine again the next year.

It was the first thing Justin said when he saw me: "HEY! Gram's got a picture on her fridge of you with me in a headlock!"


Life with Justin was a constant game of one-upmanship, and to have photographic proof of the few seconds I'd bested him was sweeter than the jelly beans my grandmother kept hidden in the crockery.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Crushing your head and striking his heel

The direct line to al-Qaeda

I have been running an unscientific experiment.

Two weeks ago, I filled my car's tank with gas. Total cost: $36. Two weeks ago, Steve filled the truck's tank with gas. Total cost: $80.

Today, I have 3/4 of a tank left. Steve has half a tank left.

Now, this is not really a fair experiment. My car gets much more use than Steve's truck. He works across the street, but I drive Michael across town to school every day. I estimate that the car gets ten times as much use as the truck, because we usually take the truck for groceries once a week, and the grocery store is on the way to Michael's school. I am going to be extra generous and estimate up, because he DOES use the truck to go to the dump about once a month. So let's say that the car gets five times as much use as the truck.

That means that I've spent $9 to drive five times as far as Steve's truck has gone on $40 in gas. I'm not, like, a math teacher at an elementary school or anything, but I'm guessing that that's a significant difference. If only I could find a sheik or mullah or someone to explain it to me.

33.3 RPM

This was my family 20 years ago, minus my grandmother (she's holding the camera). Man, how things have changed.

We didn't have a TV when I was growing up. My parents strongly believed that TV was bad for us. My brothers and I did, however, have fairly free access to my dad's old turntable and LP records. We had Sharon, Lois and Bram; Bruce Cockburn; and a delightful collection of Lamarckian creation legends narrated by Captain Kangaroo.

I think it's safe to say that we were huge Pete Seeger fans. If you live in the States, you can probably click here to hear our favourite song. If you live outside the States, you'll have to content yourself with this clip. We would listen to this over and over again. It probably drove my mom nuts.

If I could figure out how to pull it from iTunes into Blogger, I definitely would. (Since I left the national broadcaster I no longer have broadcast-quality recording equipment lying around the house.) This one is almost as good, though:

Friday, November 03, 2006

Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes

Whenever I'm really depressed and need to be cheered up, I find that it helps to spend a few hours reading the Book of Job. But this is the 21st century, and I don't always have enough time to get all the way from the land of Uz to Zophar the Naamathite. That's where the Internet can fill a gap.

Properly-Punctuated Policies

If you are interested in knowing what an anti-crack-house law (not an anti-crack house law) might look like, the details are here.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Poorly Punctuated Passages

Today's episode of Little Miss Know-It-All: Hyphens.

It seems as if NOBODY knows how to use hyphens. I am constantly asked to edit documents with a large number of qualifiers, and they NEVER have hyphens. I am forced to figure out whether a contract is a long-standing agreement or a long standing agreement. I'm still not sure if we have three-hundred-odd employees or three hundred odd employees. Is it a man-eating shark or a man eating shark? A cold-hearted person or a cold hearted person?

And just yesterday I picked up the local paper -- which I ASSUME is edited by a professional copyeditor -- and found one of my projects described as an "anti-crack house law". I got out my Sharpie, added the missing hyphen, and felt much better. You see, it's not a house law that is anti-crack. It's a law that is anti-crack-house. An anti-crack-house law.

See what I just did? The hyphen actually means something! It's the difference between:

Here comes the pickled herring salesman.


Here comes the pickled-herring salesman.

I saw a movie poster a few months ago advertising a movie called The 40 Year-Old Virgin. I was a bit confused about this. Was there an "s" missing at the end, making it a movie about 40 infant virgins? Perhaps a spoof on the properly-punctuated The 40-Year-Old Virgin? A delightfully nasty film that would play with the boundaries of societal norms? No such luck. The marketing company was too stupid to copy-edit the five words on its poster. Or maybe they were taking their cue from the idiots who came up with Two Weeks Notice.

Hyphens join words together when they modify other words that immediately follow them, like this:

This example is from the real world. It's a real-world example.
He specializes in infectious diseases. He's an infectious-disease specialist.

Now, dear reader, I am going to take you to the next level of hyphen usage. Are you ready? Let's imagine that I need to describe the children in Michael's class by age -- except that they are NOT ALL THE SAME AGE! (Dramatic gasps all around.)

Michael's class has 22 four- to five-year-old children.

See how easy that was? There are four-year-old children and five-year-old children in the class. As a group, they are four- to five-year-old children.

You may be wondering -- what is the difference between a hyphen and a dash? I happen to be rather fond of dashes, mostly because they have a dramatic flair with a hint of pretensiousness. They also indicate that there is a separate thought that is set off from the rest of the sentence:

I pick up the local paper -- the dashes now tell you to expect a touch of scorn -- and I can only GUESS how many mistakes I will see.

I'm writing this here at home -- I have a laptop computer -- and I'm HOPING that you're smart enough to figure out that the end of this sentence relates to the first part.

More about Comedy Central

Should I be scared that pseudo-pundit Stephen Colbert feels the same way I do about Comedy Central's stupidity?

UPDATE: Gone, sorry. If you're lucky, the video might be here. Look here if you want to know why I did this. Comedy Central sucks.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The most popular Canadian comedy

It probably says something that Corner Gas is the most successful Canadian comedy on television right now. Could it be that we are boring and like to watch other boring people on TV? People who revel in their boringness and pick petty fights with each other over whether salt is better than pepper?

If you live outside Canada, you've probably never seen this show.

Comedy Central has no sense of humour

Well, it appears that Comedy Central just might be a humourless corporation. Instead of recognizing that YouTube is giving them millions of dollars' worth of free advertising in viral marketing, they have asked that all clips be taken down.

As of this writing, it appears that they may be changing their mind, but it's hard to know for sure. Until they figure out that this is the dumbest idea ever, I am putting them on notice:

Unfortunately for my sense of outrage, I feel strongly about copyright and intellectual property. I believe that all of the clips I've posted are covered as "fair use", but since the copyright holder has asked that they be removed, I will be taking down the Comedy Central clips in the following posts:

In case Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me... (October 21)
Oh my God! They killed Kenny! (October 13)

I will be doing this on Friday night unless Comedy Central and YouTube come to an agreement before then. If the clips disappear before Friday night, it means that YouTube deleted them - they have been deleting videos over the past few days.

It's not as if Comedy Central listens to me, but I have to say that this is truly a stupid idea. I would have thought that they would be excited to see the potential here for showcasing videos on the web. This is one of the most interesting viral marketing tools to come along, and it's unfortunate that their response is "Shut 'em down!" instead of "Cool. How can we use this to promote our shows?"

Canadian comedy

I've blogged about my love for Rick Mercer before. I will begin by repeating that this is partly hometown pride. Good, I'm glad that's out of the way.

Only in Canada would comedians have such free access to politicians. I'm trying to imagine any US president opening his doors to the cast of Saturday Night Live. I love Canada.

This is part of last night's Rick Mercer Report. This segment was hilarious - I don't know if it was the show or the PM's staff who came up with the idea of doing an interview where the PM refused to answer any questions, but either way it was perfect.

The rest is on Rick's site. Go there - the clip is "Sleepover at 24 Sussex Drive".

And because I love Danny Williams, I have to include this from last week's show: