Monthly Archives: September 2010

Bad, Bad, Gendered Noun reference!

Further to my series on the language arts, I had to run for cigarettes to the nearby gas station/jewish Quickee-Mart, a minute ago, where I learned why ‘Es ist schwere a yid zu sein’ .(‘It’s tough being a Yid”.)
Shabbat today, The supposed Day O Rest…for the lucky…
Me, I’m painting a stair frame. Grey on gray, big fun.
At the Paz-gas® counter, a new girl I didn’t recognize immediately grabbed a pack of my preferred brand without my saying a word. Now whether the employees spend their HR meetings memorizing what little old me particularly wants in life or not, it was a mini-wonder to behold, and of course I felt the need to reward her with a compliment on her memory and/or dedication.
Only problem is: in Hebrew, every damn word has either tits or nuts. We have no neuter case.
I started my small-talk adjulation by saying “That’s really a..” without knowing exactly which word I’d choose to describe her thoughtfulness.
Then it hit me (like the awful morning of an awakening sailor after a fitful night’s sleep on a doomed, hopelessly sinking ship); Having used the ‘feminine’ word for ‘That’s’ (‘zot’), I’d condemned myself to following up with a
female word for my praise.
‘Davar’  (‘thing’) had been my impetuous  plain-brown-wrapper choice, which I’d intended to modify with ‘sweet’, or ‘fortuitous’, or even, in an endearing hyperbole despite the 40 year age difference,: ‘life-changing’event..
And in fact, her simple act of kindness had indeed made my day, which doesn’t say too much about my awful existence here. (El Al; $1200 price of exit)
Yet, thing’ (heb: ‘davar’) has apparently testicles and a full male genital tract, otherwise why do the Hebies call it a ‘male’ word? ‘Davar’ was now an impossiblity in the unfinished sentence….
I searched my data-base for a ‘female’ word for her kindness, came up with ‘to’fa’ah’ (‘incidence-, or occurence-‘) and then needed to profusely modify it in order to express my intended message. ‘An excellent happenstance’ is approximately what I ended up blathering on with, in the end.
She smiled, at least. My little frown to myself over having to deal with a 4th century BC language;-I hope she didn’t see it.
Next shopping trip I’ll stick with Arabic slang. ‘Wa’allah, achlah sherut!” (‘Praise be to the the Holy one; What top-level service!”
My point is that you-uns English speakers have no idea how lucky you is. Here in the Israeli Holy Land, we can’t even voice the gender-inflected word ‘You’ without first pulling down our M/F?  conversation-partner’s halter-top to rigorously confirm his/ her mammary glands or lack there-of. Ok, maybe there’s an up-side to it.
Shabbat Shalom to my friends who believe in Moses’ unisex Rabbit. With or without uteruses. or is it ‘Uterii’?

My sad life as a devout All-true-ist

    Just a quick testimony here from my daily adventure with Altruism™, the Religion which believes in helping the un-saved with grammar and spelling.

Imagine my surprise and disgust to discover that a nice comment I left on a Top-Blog entry mentioning “Tree’s” (sic-note the unnecessary  ‘green-grocer’s’ apostrophe) in which, after complimenting the post, I sweetly pointed out the flaw,  was Deleted. I then found I was ‘Blocked’ from ever again helping this chap.
I’m sorry that I can’t paste the original deleted comment; be assured that it was almost excessively charitable and asked forgiveness for my nit-picking, so to speak.
     Visiting the site anonymously, I now see a major foaming-at-the-mouth event; a post where the miscreant wrongly accuses me (‘a major troll’?) of confusing English(?) and American grammar. (As if ‘shred’ for ‘shed’, and ‘loose’ for ‘lose’, both of which I graciously overlooked, are ‘British-isms’)?)
 And further proof of his resistance to error-correction is evident by the  use of ‘Photo’s’ as the plural of ‘Photo  in a subsequent  post.
     I left this quick comment, (which I expect to be also deleted and blocked), under an assumed name. (see below)
And so it goes. My noblesse oblige as a journeyman English speaker, my hesitant efforts to sporadically help Top Bloggers embarrass themselves a tad less, are for naught. Perhaps there is simply no way to fix an unwilling patient no matter which finely-honed diplomatic scalpel one chooses. Still, I shall keep up my calling. One raving soul at a time.

Soon-to-be-deleted comment as of five minutes ago:

The ‘good’ part about simply blocking someone and deleting a friendly, tactful comment pointing out an embarrassing error is that you’ll never have to be bothered learning  anything . Really, there’s a limit to mis-reprentation. No issue involving  British/American discrepancies was even mentioned in the comment I was lucky enough to see. He/she simply pointed out the ‘Greengrocer’s (redundant) apostrophe in ‘Tree’s’ , and tactfully avoided correcting ‘shred’ for ‘shed, and ‘loose’ for ‘lose’.
Go ahead and delete this also, it won’t change the facts. Sometimes ‘Photo’s’ are really ‘photos’. /M Schlossberg/ Tel Aviv

Wu: Chill, bro. It’s just an apostrophe, after all.
Me: No, it’s a straw, and it broke my camelback.
Wu: You’re this pissed because one Xanga nin-com-poop pooped his diaper, and you coulda saved him, but instead he fought back  and insisted on his right to be ‘un-clean’
Me: Good point. maybe I should just revel in my having been washed in the Blood of Strunk & White. And let the Infidel’s take they’re chances?
Wu: Let us pray…

1) The comment you can read (above) was Not deleted, in fact, the fellow replied in a fashion sufficiently indicative of understanding that my heart was partially softened. His beef appears to be mainly with pointing out typos, etc. to someone I’m ‘not personally familiar with’. That criterion excludes 99% of Xanga, and so my job-description is being eliminated as of *checks watch* yesterday. By that reasoning I should also refrain from expressing my opinion about politicians with whom I have yet to play at least nine(9) holes of golf.
But seriously, my contention is that when a post makes the quantum jump from back-water -add comments-ville to the lofty peaks of Top Blah-blah-bloggs, it needs suffer a higher standard of lit-crit. The fact that Xanga employs not even  one(1) seemingly-literate Front-Page Editor-in Chief is a hole I intend to apply to jump into. (Please don’t parse that sentence, ha.) I envision sending nice pink emails to Top-100 candidates with, for example, the following wording.
    Dear Lucky Xangan ‘name-here-! We are pleased to announce that your post has been read and given
tentative star-status on the highly-vaunted Front Page.However, please note that the plural of ‘tree’ is ‘trees’, and not ‘tree’s’ as printed. As soon as this little error is corrected, do drop us an email at fixed/xanga/com and your post will duly appear. Once again, Congratulations, and thank you for helping in our effort to present this web-platform as an exemplary ray of light in the tunnel of internetz boor-dom. Sincerely, Xanga Teem.

Ok, I now believe I shall grant exemptions from error-correction to the following sub-groups, who shall be immune to any scrutiny:
1) Anyone using English as a second language. No merit in adding insult to the injury of trying to sort out ‘there,their, and they’re’. They will likely refrain from proof-reading my Swahili.
2) Anyone whose entry is not grabbed-up and listed on the Front Page. A man’s home is his castle, no matter how crooked the walls. (His comb is his hassle also, unless he’s bald. credit-RS.)
3) Anyone who is dealing with a recent loss: a death in the family, loss of job, misplaced car-keys, stuff like that there.
4) Folks previously (and hurtfully) called ‘feeble-minded’: Who among us knows how difficult it is to post an entry when one’s mind wanders, when distractions abound even in a quiet room, when our memory is clouded by frantic doubts and black holes. These folks’ input is equally important on a web-site dedicated to diversity.
5) Certain religious groups are of course to be granted carte blanche, especially if they historically don’t take
criticism well. The Aztecs come to mind. If the ascerbic H.L.Mencken could resist becoming a human sacrifice, his heart cut from his body and burned on an altar, I’ll defer to his tactful example.

 Well, whom does this leave, you ask? A: A surprising number of lucky blokes and blokesses. Stay
tuned as I wrestle with my now-more-carefully-delineated target audience. And thanks for reading . Corrections oh-so-graciously accepted.

Woe-be-gone at Lake Vowel-Halla

I suppose my readers get the hint already; I can’t be too generous with day-to-day details. And I daresn’t even tell you why not. So I attempt to possibly compensate y’all by positing and then posting positively fictional worlds, both larger- and smaller-than-life. Here’s a glimpse at my latest job:

    Wonder what Martin-the-Elder would say about a Yid as Maintanence-man here at the Lutheran Rest Home? Oh well, I get to work, the ‘inmates’ get the rest. Got a call today about, turns out, the Lake. An artificial road-side attraction. Real birds though, for now.
     But the voice on the phone was almost frantic; “It’s draining.” she wailed.
“What’s draining?” I asked courteously. Usually that’s a good sign, in the bath at least.
“This place is my whole life,” I heard a choked-up voice,“…and I can’t see it just slip away like this.”
Oops, they call me for counseling, huh? ‘Yeah, life is draining, then you die, and just when you’d gotten used to it.’ was probably not what the Book says to offer… so I didn’t. I heard the Canada geese in the background; the noise they make when they poop in the air, and then it hit me! Ahh. Lake Valhalla. The lake’s draining. Yeah, I had noticed a strange wet spot in the field next to it lately. (Thought I was the only guy who went there at night)
“I’ll get right on it, lady.” I told her. “And cheer up, would you.”
Ok, I paged through my contacts: Lake: Luke’s Waterworks™. Oh no, not that guy again.

‘The lake has a Leak, and I’m, Like, trying to Locate Luke
. I said to myself. Why does that sound like a facetious mantra? Never mind.
Luke’s a disaster on wheels.Last time he showed up he was Laced on who knows what, Lost the List of stuff
he’d Loused up on the previous call, and did the Least work I’ve ever seen from a grown man in 8 hours. Maybe de-Liced a half dozen geese, (not even sure of that). and I can’t even rat on him, Lest the management say it’s because he’s ‘not one of your people’. Damn Luther.
   Anyway, Luke pulled in the macadam lane, hung out the window and asked for key to the pump-house.
You’re out of Luck, Luke, I Lack the key to the Lock.” I told him.

“Ok, Looks like we’re Licked then, for now.”
Luke said, looking relieved. The guy was just trying to get out of work, obviously. I searched for a workaround.
“So, what you got in the truck?” I asked. I figured we could always break in, do the repair, then fix the gate later, if it’d save the whales, you know,
Luke rifled through the guns, junk and bottles on the front seat:
“Lacquers, Liquors,” he checked the floor and found an envelope,“Season passes to the Lakers, if you got the Lucre, Bud.”
    I just batted away the question, but Luke took it as a sign he could leave. He was halfway to the first speed-bump before I realized, being lost in my search for another L-kers word.
“How’d you know my name was ‘Bud’?” was all I could yell as he turned out of sight onto 95 Theses Blvd.
Guess I’ll be carrying water in buckets for a couple days till we find a new repair-guy. And the birds’ll be fine meanwhile on a diet of worms

And that’s the news from Lake Vowelhalla, where all the dipthongs are good-looking and most of the consonants are above average. Tune in next week…  ‘course I’ll probably have a new job.

Irritable Vowel Syndrome: Another Xanga Bug?

And you thought it would be easy to create a ‘Themes©’?
I didn’t even want to. I wuz happy with my cold-war-era theme-less non-des-crypt xanga format. But the Supreme Xanga-bot found it un-nerving, I suppose, to the point of a mandatory Dialog Box. (‘Monologue box’ is more appropriate for a no-exit, backed-into-a-digital corner rape-event, but we’re ahead of the story)
“Choose a THEMES!”
Yup, that’s a command. I scan the options plate like a condemned man choosing a last meal. ‘London Calling’, hey, why not? An innocuous Euoropean City I’ve seen from 35, 000 feet.
“Choose a River!”
I don’t know, something feels right about the THAMES. I click, and am rewarded with ‘You’re almost finished! ‘ Hah, truer words were never spoken. And then:
“Choose a Photo!” I ‘minimize’ Xanga and head for Google Images, like a thief in the night. “Photographer Thomas Langerhorn’s Excellent Adventure in the British Isles!” looks do-able. A quick re-size in Irfanvu (highly recommended) and I’m ready to upload my ill-gotten gains.
“Sorry, the photo you selected is THOM’S”.
Hey, how did Xanga know that? I scroll ahead in the Seven(?) Stage-of-the-Cross Xanga Menu.
“Choose a Bird!”
 Ten minutes of wasted quality-time it took me to decide on the safest Blighty-bird. The Cookoo? FTW! the Robot ate it and burped approvingly. But wait:
“Choose a Plant!”
F*ck. How does a ‘normal’ Xangan navigate this veil-o-tears? Plant, let’s see? Are I goin’ to Scarborough Faire? Yeah, Thyme! I ‘enter’ and click ‘Yes’.
“Sorry, please navigate to ‘Botannical Help’ at the bottom of your screen for more info.”
“Jeezuz, I shoulda gone with Blog-spot. The ‘Help’ patronizingly informs me that, quote: “There are a multitude of varieties of Thymes, including, but not limited to; Hard Thymes, Soft Thymes, L.A. Thymes, The New York Thymes.”
Ok, I ain’t Linneaus, I’ll go with ‘All the Herbs what’s fit to Print’. I back-pedal to the damn pick-a-fruit dialogue and click on NYT, only to find that the photo-upload daemon is still active, and trying to render Windows
System file THUMBS.exe. “Are you sure?” it asks me.
“No, I’m not even sure at this point if there is a God, and if so, what was His plan for mankind… Probably not this.
      Somehow, and I wish I could explain how, I ended up in the Final Challenge Dialogue Big-Box. Xanga had meanwhile changed my bird to the Dodo  and defaulted to Galena as my Ore. Go figure. Still, I needed only to prove I wasn’t a robot:
“Somewhere you’re sure you don’t want to go?
“Something you hope no one ever calls you?”
“Something you just can’t seem to do in polite society?”
“A hair-colour you don’t see much lately?,

And finally, Please submit a short poem, copy-‘n-paste or original, which proves your essential humanity:
   Oh no. To get this far in the menu only to be dumped un-ceremoniously into the Xanga Diner’s trash-can? I struggled with my memories of troubled youth. Yes, my Dad; we were trying to fix the corn-picker in the middle of the night, welding upside-down in frozen cow-shit. Him passing the time reciting sonnets.
One from Arnold Toynbee sticks in my mind to this day:

I fancy this: to be be-loined/
Between your quivering thighs/
And thus, by Love we be con-joined/
Try Passion on for size.

Well, it coulda been ‘sighs’, hell, that’s the weak link in the oral record/ father-to-son/word-of-mouth poetic chain of command.
The crucial point is that OMG! Xanga bought it! I was instructed to hit ‘Submit’ to save my precious Changes. Accordingly, I did so, and was rewarded by a “Sorry, the page you Requested does not exist/ Error 404.”
And that, dear friends, is why my site is the ‘Same as it ever was.’  Enjoy the loads-in-a-jiffy.

Wu: Fact or fiction?
Me: I’m ashamed to admit, but I really don’t know for sure.
Wu: Um, how to put this: A grown man is often expected to have a sort of finger on the pulse of reality.
Me: I suppose I could check Firefox History for last night, 3-4 AM?
Wu: History is written by the Victors, Johnny
Me: Uh oh. Yeah, I was afraid of that.

The Whimper of ‘Expendable’ features

SURPRISE UPDATE: Somehow, after creating my primitive Swan’s Song (above), I clicked to tearfully post it and voila, The Old, Beloved Editor!!!
A miracle. So yeah, disregard. I’m back and running with the usual wolf-like passion. (I’d edited my preference about twelve times to no effect. perhaps one needs to be persistent.)