Monthly Archives: March 2008

It’s ‘he’, ‘she’, and ‘us’ versus ‘Them’ and we’re losing ground.

“How do you show someone you love them?”
     I‘ll answer, as we do, with a question:
Am I the only surviving English speaker on the planet? Am I really all alone in reading this and immediately seeing the following scene as the intention of the speaker:
Walking at night down a remote path in the woods with ‘someone’, (a second human of unspecified gender), we round a corner and spot an unearthly saucer-shaped spacecraft, steam still rising from its hot landing pods, and we are stunned, both of us, to see a row of confused but orderly alien creatures standing assembled outside the silver ship. I say to my friend “Yippie, I just love aliens!”
“No you don’t”,
my friend challenges me. “Surely you realize, it’s ‘Us’ against ‘Them’ now.” But, filled with universal love, I know that I’ve spoken the truth. I suppose I shall need to prove it to my friend though, and I devote several precious seconds to asking myself: “How do you show someone you love ‘Them’?” He or she could possibly watch as I walk non-threateningly over to the gaggle of ETs and embrace them. This would be simple in principle, but carries a risk of being eaten, dismembered, or even forcibly converted to some bizarre galactic religion. No, I finally decide, I will instead dedicate my life to working toward proper pronoun agreement in spoken English, thus creating for my alien visitors a more respectable, hospitable tourist destination.



My father, bless his memory, was an English teacher for a few years after the War, until he remembered that cows give more milk, and generally do it grammatically at that. He may have sincerely believed in an afterlife. Wherever he is, should he overhear a question as gruesomely mis-phrased as this one, I’m sure he would promptly ask to be transfered to ‘the other place’.
I have just tried to toss another ‘Featured Word-Salad’. God help us all.

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Malaisia gravis

    Yes it’s an officially approved malady. Malaise, loss of melody, plus a medley of other deficits. Sporadic and transitory… I hope. Simply put, (and to look on the bright side), I can now, like, totally, understand some readers’ underwhelming appreciation of my word-play postings. I suddenly find no thrill in them my own damn self. Rodeo/Radio, bah humbug! I have gone almost a week now without filling a few pages a day with startling and/or precious turns of phrase. My calling hath lost its charm.
   This reminds me of a bizarre and related unexplained mystery. Every few weeks or so, when I was performing six nights a week, I would walk on stage to discover to my horror that notes, chords, and the emotions associated therewith had become… colourless. An ‘Es as good as an ‘Ab’, I suddenly couldn’t feel the difference. I’d get through the first couple sets mechanically and pray for the return of my powers. Some nights they never came back, and I’d drive home feeling like Beethoven may have, near the end; deaf, frustrated, and scared?
   The symphonic ‘power-failures’ I eventually correlated with sleep cycles, with a failure to ‘zero-beat my awareness of the time of day, and with odd room resonances, echoes, assorted acoustic anomalies. But losing one’s gift for guileful gab, on what can I blame this? Try as I might to ‘get off’ on a newly-discovered homonym, I hear only the bored catcalls from the peanut gallery. “Who cares?” they taunt, and I have no answer.
   So call me ‘Solberg the Prosaic’ I shall post laundry lists of dis-spirited garments, knotted together at the wrists and ankles by servicable conjunctions, and I’ll end each with a pointless punkt. One of these….. And somone else will have to weave “lain, lion, loin, leon, lien, line, lean, lone, loan, loon, and luan” into a linguistic lawn-ornament.

The Chance of a Lifetime… and I blew it.

   Man, I came so close to being like, set up for life, but now I’m just “jsolberg, schmuck” again. See, I’d been getting these mystery phone calls every morning, while I was at work, of course. Caller ID always said “Unavailable”, which is either a telemarketeer: “Ladies tops, half off, this week only!” (a scam, trust me), or a call from outside of our fair province announcing a wedding, birth, or funeral, (you decide)  So yesterday I came back home at 10:30 AM for my welder just in time to catch the guy in the act. Gotcha! A strange accent, talked real friendly, and told me he was.. a genie, and that I had three wishes

Now of course I’m used to these sales guys by now so I started to tell him I’m not interested in..
“But sir, this is not a joke, I have one number I call each month, that’s it. You heard about that lady in Alabama?”
“Yeah, she won the lottery or something; can’t tie her own shoes and now she’s got a quarter of a  billion dollars to ..um… spend wisely.. But you can’t prove that was you, it was on all the channels, even here.”
“So ask me something, you know, ‘little’, and I’ll show you, free, on the house.”
I thought a second. Hmm, ‘ladies tops, half off’? Nah, save that for the three big ones.
“How about cleaning my toaster oven?” I challenged him. I was ready to just buy a new one, only a genie could make it look like the picture on the box. I heard a kind of popping noise from the litchen, turned around just to catch the door slamming shut. It did look cleaner… from the outside. Who knows. It suddenly dawned on me that I had nothing to lose, so nu, let’s do the wishes already. Except that I wanted to share the experience with my dear readers on Xanga, you know, maybe get suggestions what to wish for, so I asked the genie if we could do it online:
“I’ll make three wishes, post ’em on on my site, give you a secret password here on the phone, and then you just, like, grant the wishes and comment me with the password. That’ll prove it was you, cool?”
He thought for a second, then agreed. I was becoming more and more excited. it was sinking in that I might shortly have anything I ever dreamed of, ladies tops, bottoms, you name it.
But sad to say, here’s what happened next: I was giving him my address. Got through the “WWW” and was in the middle of “That’s ‘Xanga’ with an “X” when he interupted me, laughing:
“A wise choice, wouldn’t you say?”
“Yeah, super, now we can sing duets.”
That from a second fellow who suddenly appeared on the line. Funny, the guy had the same weird accent.
“Duet, hell, the three of us can split a large pizza..” Another double, appearantly.
“Wait a minute,” I tried to get a word in edgewise, “What’s happening?”
“Pizza, schmizza, we can go play doubles. ‘Doubles‘, get it? Tennis, anyone?” and a fourth genie laughed at his own joke, or their joke, or whatever..
After a couple rounds of this type of banter, which left me feeling more and more morose and left out, one of  ‘My four genies’ announced, kinda script-like: “It’s been a pleasure granting your wishes, sir, and have a nice day.” And with that they were gone. All of them.



I wait by the phone. Stare at the “Total New Calls:00”. It’ll never happen again. I feel like a condemned man, cursed by bitter fate, forced now to go back to feeding myself by the sweat of my brow. F*cking “Double-you, double-you, double-you.” Next time I’ll start with “HTTP”. Oh shit, there won’t be a next time.