D J T

I tried to prevent myself from even writing — let alone posting — this trivial, overly subjective whinge. However, after I spent too many half-conscious hours last night running variations on the initials so central to this post through my mind, I had no real choice but to succumb and exorcise De-vile Jouncechops Turgidity. Really — even asleep, or half-asleep, or mostly asleep, I was devising various phrases, such as “Demonically Jaundiced Tushie,” to describe the (thinly) orange-thatched subhuman whose ranting and invidious presence on our planet has cornered me into writing today.

Last week (I think — perhaps it was earlier: I shall know better when I seek out the image I intend to use in illustration for this article, for this particular portion of this article, in fact*), a certain (to-be-unmentioned by name) financial scam artist** (Dumb Jerk Talking) made an outrageously offensive tweet against fellow New Yorker (actually a New Jersey native by birth) Jon Stewart — this tweet:

Dullard Jerkmember (Torture-us) Twit

Dullard Jerkmember (Torture-us) Twit

Initially, I read about, then ignored and then forgot about Drooling Jivemonkey Thickpate and his nonsense. Until yesterday evening, when awaiting the start of The Good Wife at 8:00 PM Our Local Time (Daylight Savings Variety), I accidentally endured the final few minutes of Dirtwuss Jackstaff Thatchskullʼs wearily lame “reality” hour of enhanced-interrogation maltreatment (failed-celebrity version thereof). And the subjection to Dolt Jute-chewing Tipplepratesʼs braying and painful pontifications, even for a few hundred seconds, left me on the uneasy and sickened side of sleep.

Thus this post and its Joycean exuberance in ringing the changes on Deafnoggin Jughead Turpitudeʼs initials.

And I have only just begun, but also run on too long about too little. However, I was having so much fun, I thought you (whatever faithful peruser has made it to this point) might like to participate on your own. Using the chart below, just select one from Column A, another from Column B and the last from Column C (I really should have called those columns D, J and T) and create your own burlesque caricatures to lampoon Driparse Japehoax Tincturation (not really necessary, as It, sleazy merchant of valueless twaddle, does such a woefully awesome job of making Itself ridiculous).

Doofus Jackdaw Thirdrate WordsChart

And you could  consult a dictionary or thesaurus yourself for even more variations to play. Obviously, I didnʼt even make it through the alphabet on various traducements to use, so feel free to add (or invent — the addition of… “-head” or “-breath” or “-ass” or any gross physicality may transform even the most mundane and titmousian expression into a truly splendiferous and gargantuan aspersion absolutely appropriate to the abomination that is Demi-apt Jumbomalicious Troglodyte).

* Turns out it was only “four days ago,” according to Google Images search.

** Also here and here and here and (I think we all get the picture… long before now, too.)

*** Heck, Dullard J. Twatfumble probably went no further than a quick look at Stewartʼs Wikipedia entry for the naming thing asininely featured in the tweet (or, to be accurate, forced an intern or other employee to do the job for His — Dirty Jobs Trashmeister — Ineptitude-Personified Haughtiness).

©2013 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

First Person

“Are ya up for some skiing with Bethany and I?”

Oh, those pronouns. People seem to have more trouble with their pronouns when writing or speaking than they do with any other semantic, grammatical or communicative disorders (and orders). 

What causes todayʼs little peroration is, as one might easily predict (particularly for one like me who does not use Twitter), Facebook status updates. And as our title for today indicates, I want to focus on first things first.

English has three pronouns in both singular and plural forms,* not to mention also in nominative, possessive and objective cases — first, second and third person. When I was teaching, I used to like to tell the sophomores a fake bit of developmental psychology to help keep the three persons accurate…

When I was in the womb, preborn as the anti-abortion multitudes have taken to saying, if I was capable of consciousness at all,** I was only aware of one thing, one being, one oneness that comprised the all of everything — myself. Thatʼs the first person: “I,” “me” (avoiding for the moment the peculiar issues of plurality). 

Getting born introduces limitation (and probably, as Freud guessed, calamity and agony) when suddenly one is not the utter all and wholeness, totality… when oneʼs universe of self-contentment suffers contraction, eruption and expulsion… when, whether birthed into the cold air or warmed pool or whatever novel environment, one gets oneʼs breathing started, whether the midwife or doctor uses tickling, slapping or whatever method. Suddenly there is Someone Else in addition to Oneself/Myself right there, real and immediate, a second person — “you,” whoever that ever-changing other-one-who-is-here-with-me might shiftingly be through the long sequences of events that become a life.***

And when I get old enough to gossip with you about another person whoʼs not around us just now, that situation introduces the third person, whether than individual is “he, she or it.”

You and I together comprise “us,” first person plural, whereas several others around me (but not counting me) are “you” plural (that one poses few problems except sometimes in verb formulation), whereas more than one person not with us is third person plural, “them.” And with that last clause (and the first one, too, in that preceding sentence) we reach the crux of todayʼs problem, because if those other people about whom we are speaking do something, we would say, “They are doing whatever that thing is they are doing.” “They,” not “them” because in the imaginary sentence the third-person-plural are the subject of the sentence, the doers, not the objects (“them”).

With that affirmation of the distinction between nominative and objective cases (subjects versus objects), we hit whatʼs wrong with the (imaginary — all names and situations have been changed to protect the ignorant) sentence that began this post.

“Are ya up for some skiing with Bethany and I?”

We ignore the colloquial, informal transformation of “you” (presumably plural) to “ya,” and look at that final word. “With Bethany and first-person pronoun” is a prepositional phrase (a topic we have tackled before), and the noun (or pronoun) that follows a preposition (“with” in our sample case above) must be in the objective case, a rule which means nominative “I” is utterly, completely, laughably incorrect nonsense above. Leaving the second-person pronoun alone, the writer should have typed, “Are ya up for some skiing with Bethany and me?”

And thatʼs the way it is, Saturday, 11 February 2012.

* (to simplify matters for now, avoiding, for instance, the reflexive forms, et al.)

** And in a very Levi-Straussian structuralist way, I doubt that I was capable of consciousness until my being had encountered some kind of Other against which to rub my Self to trigger an awareness of myself…

*** I played with my favorite pronoun in that paragraph on second person, the indefinite “one,” which I much prefer to the colloquial (and illogical, when one puts oneʼs mind to it) indefinite, third-person-substitute “you” — a construction that just makes the clarity of first, second and third persons worthlessly confusing.

[Clip art images from websites available by clicking the pix.]

©2012 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Whatʼs going on?

Astonishing.

Amazing.

Thanks to Gwen Hernandezʼs helpful comment, I got my blog to actually shut down* yesterday** instead of merely identifying the open blog as blacked out.

Actual screen capture from 4:40 PM CST, Wednesday, 18 January 2012, searching for “blackout square,” returned this blog as result #1

And we still got well over 100 hits***. Blacked out. With no blog available. Astonishing. Amazing (in a strange and twisted kind of way).

Admittedly, when one googled “blackout square,” the name I had given my home-made blackout image from Tuesdayʼs post about yesterdayʼs blackout, the first item Google returned was my square (at least for me; I really donʼt know if being me makes Wakdjunkagaʼs Blog show up higher in the search results than for other folks****). Iʼm serious. Just look at the image to the right (and go on, click it to make it big, so you can actually see). That first black square on the search for “blackout square” is my image (the one I put my cursor under, marked “22 hours ago” when I searched yesterday afternoon and then took the screen capture).

Yeah, itʼs pretty (pointlessly) ego-boosting (“Vanity of vanities, sayeth the Preacher. All is vanity”) to be the top result on Google — even if it is just for a picture, and one I created by pouring black into a new GraphicConverter image and saving in somewhat under forty seconds, just so I had an image to use Tuesday (it also became my Facebook display pic yesterday, too*****). However, itʼs fairly confusing also to realize that searchers got nothing for clicking on that image (or any of the other searched links that led hereabouts) yesterday.

WordPress.com Stats on Wakdjunkagaʼs Blog about 4:40 PM yesterday — and people who cliked search links got the generic WordPress blackout page, no matter what

Of course, people searched plenty of other things (the usual suspects around here, according to WordPress Stats — check the stats capture to the left, the one that in the top graph reveals those 100+ hits at just 4:40 PM). But internet pic trollers didnʼt get anywhere with any of those searches yesterday. How do I know? Because I tried a couple of those terms myself, using Safari and Chrome (as I already had the WordPress post-composition page open here in Firefox, writing some of these words******). And when I clicked on the links, I got the standard this-blog-is-blacked-out-in-protest-of-SOPA/PIPA*******. It must have been kind of frustrating for those image-seeking internet users.

Of course, once I changed from the total blackout setting to the just-a-protest-banner setting, those anonymous image-thieving pirates could get what they wanted again (and they probably are doing so right now). Gosh, does that bit of online behavior indicate we really do need an internet piracy law? (No.)

(One last thing — at least before you get to the plethora of footnotes below — yesterday was one of the worst days since last summer for CenturyLink******** screwing with my internet linkage: at least a dozen interruptions, half of those, at least, within less than five minutes of each other — meaning no actual getting online at all for a big part of yesterday morning. Talk about your internet blackouts. — At least I got this little item written, illustrated, annotated, linked and repeatedly saved without interruption.)

* Thatʼs a split infinitive there: “to actually fail.” Traditional stylistics dictate that one should never split infitinitives. I do it all the time. For instance, in the case above (which I did think about; viz. this footnote), placing “actually” in the position it occupies seems (at least to me) to emphasize the reality of the shutting down.  — Agree? Disagree? Comment, then.

** (WordPress.com added both the current banner and a Wednesday, 18 January 2012 SOPA/PIPA blog-blackout item sometime after I wrote and posted Tuesdayʼs little essay)

*** The final count, observed just as I posted this shortly after 9:00 AM Thursday, 19 January 2012, was 136 pointless hits.

**** Your input is welcome. Do your results parallel mine? (We can communicate and run the same search about the same time, just to be most objectively accurate.)

***** I hope I remembered to change it before posting this today…

****** Thatʼs a Chrome window with the Google search result on “blackout square” above and to the right.

******* That standard this-blog-is-blacked-out-today is also what turned up when I tried to preview this post for proofreading, too! Not quite so amusing to me somehow.

******** Itʼs mighty interesting to google “CenturyLink sucks” and find all the nearly endless number of folks who have shared my frustration with this worthless big-corporate excuse for an Internet “Service” Provider.

My alternative title for todayʼs post was “SOPA/PIPA Blackout Fail.” I thought that bit of verbiage might be arresting and rivetingly seize attention. But after my testing discussed above, I know the blackout didnʼt fail. Folks just kept clicking here anyway (some of them over and over — I do really love those WordPress statistics).  

— And, yeah, I was having a good time footnoting again.

And, yes, I do have Sunday, October 23, 2012, our third day in Budapest, coming your way really, really soon. Just not today.

©2012 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Gramatically Speaking (and — another favorite theme — looking backward)

clip art image

Todayʼs post arises directly from yesterdayʼs. And as yesterdayʼs got a little bloated with extraneous complaints (about CenturyLink) and (in picture captions in particular) additional information about the Echo smartpen (which I am using to compose longhand right now), Iʼll try to keep this short and as sweet as possible for this human.

Yesterday I originally composed this sentence: “A bit larger (wider/fatter) than a normal pen, I find it forces me to write almost legibly,” which I corrected before publication as “A bit larger (wider/fatter) than a normal pen, it forces me, I find, to write almost legibly.” And I wondered if you, Gentle Reader, knew why the alteration was important (and necessary).

The difference was required because of the nature of a dependent clause. Thatʼs a clause (words that grammatically could be a sentence,* having both a subject and verb in the appropriate relationship) used to describe or “modify” a word in another independent clause, almost invariably —  because of how our language operates — describing the word right before the dependent clause starts. “I am writing the sentence which you are reading” is an example. “I am writing the sentence” is the main clause, and “which you are reading” is the dependent clause modifying “sentence,” telling you which sentence I am discussing. (I am keeping this discussion simple because in reality there are many kinds of subordinate clauses.)

In yesterdayʼs sentence, “it forces me to write almost legibly” is the clause dependent on (describing) the noun ”pen.” The “I find” is an interjected clause,** intended in its turn to modify the dependent clause (“it forces me to write almost legibly” in case you had forgotten). And if placed in its original position, immediately after “pen,” then “I think” becomes the modifier dependent on “pen,” meaning it and “pen” should somehow be related*** (and theyʼre not). “Pen” is the antecedent for “it” in the actual dependent clause (and itʼs that pronoun/antecedent relationship — between “it” and “pen” — that creates or permits the dependent clause to work and have meaning, just like “which” and “sentence” in the example I invented in the previous paragraph).

Short and sweet — “I think” couldnʼt follow “pen” logically/syntactically because that position is where the actual “it forces me to write almost legibly” clause had to fit. So in revision I did with “I think” what it grammatically did: inserted it interjectionally within the clause it modifies.

(And with that utterly roundabout and probably unclear explanation, I have created the necessary post for today.****)

* Actually my example of a subordinate/dependent clause (“which you are reading”), that I present toward the end of the paragraph, could never be a sentence on its own because it begins with a subordinating, relative pronoun. (So my example isnʼt exactly the same kind of subordinate clause as the one I used yesterday.)

** a third clause, and the shortest one of the sentences involved, having only a subject and a verb in it

*** and the meaning would be that I am a pen, and Iʼm not a pen, please.

**** And I will explain tomorrow (or one soon thereafter) what my fascination with having a post a day this week is all about.

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Cur•mudg•eon

(noun)  — bad-tempered or surly person

(with my most insincere apologies, of course)

Maybe this post results just because I have had time, with our production of One Flew over the Cuckooʼs Nest up and running — beginning its second weekend tonight — but I have been astonished and annoyed by unimportant things lately. Like commercials. And Facebook links.

Having been able to watch a little TV over the past few days,* I have again realized that commercials not merely appeal to the stupidity in us all but actively cultivate vapid witlessness (the most egregious examples being the selfdestruction-instructive “Do the Dew” series from the late Nineties and early Aughties and the interminable Hardeeʼs ads from the last few years that presented consumers at those restaurants as moronic males with severe limitations not just in taste but all matters beyond the selfishly animalistic**). Admittedly, studies have shown that it is far easier to sell stuff to folks who have shut down their higher-order thought processes, thus the historical stream of “entertaining” and/or amusing commercials over the history of TV. But do advertisers have to cultivate imbecility?

Hmmmm…

I think I may have, if blogs must discover such, found my niche for Wakdjuknagaʼs Blog… and an apparently endless stream of future posts: advertising analysis and criticism. The Old Curmudgeon rides again?

But first, for today, a really minor annoyance from Facebook (yeah, the ultimate time-waste of my mostly doltish existence), which I think results from the powerfully promoted “live stupidly”*** culture of consumer commercialism.

Lack of thought enters into many phases of ordinary life, even as television casts its dull glow into every cranny of existence. And Facebook is one of those forums**** for dim-wittedness. Just in the past few days, a supposedly cute bit of humor (check the picture, above us here, to see it) has been making the regurgitation circuit in the Newsfeed. I think I have witnessed its appearance about a dozen times from as many friends.

Ignoring the subtle antiCanadianism***** of the concept, the problem with the joke is simple geography. Mt. Rushmore is in South Dakota, kids…

“A” marks the spot, with the Canadian border near the very top of the map

Imagining the enormous length of the unseen torsos between those famous faces and that quartet of historically inaccurate asses (not to mention the lack of continuous mountain between Rushmore and wherever in Canada… unless, of course, the torsos are wormholed into some alternate universe between the two distant sites…) kind of saps the laughter.

Geography — itʼs reality.

Ah, but geographical ignorance ties in so well with (evolves so neatly from?) the Dextremeʼs Big War (of lies) on science… Doesnʼt it? Talk about the power of mindless advertising.

And while I am at it, how about this example, below, of pure non sequitur? Nonsense is nonsense, even if it suggests a political perspective some would like to feel (unconsciously perhaps, probably at the urging of corporate interests, of course) is appropriate.

And so, The Old Curmudgeon raises his grisly head to utter some grumpy commentary into the digital æther again.

* (with no rehearsals or performances to attend, we can make use of the over-priced “services” of DirecTV again)

** Probably I perceive the idiocy of those commercials as a consumer of neither product… ?

*** (Which advertisers and consumers would prefer and falsely believe to be “live stupid”)

**** It still hurts slightly to use that incorrect, unLatinate plural (which should, of course, be fora). But one can only push correctitude so far, you know… After all, data serves as both singular and plural. And donʼt get me started on the loss of medium to identify one of the mass media…

***** How many well-dulled dolts seriously have taken the South Park movie premise to heart?

Map image via Viola from GoogleMaps™

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Strange Mix

Little quiches — packaged for freezing and more cooling to be packed

I’m cooking today. Yes, itʼs another mini-breakfast-quiche-making marathon. I actually started on Tuesday, but thawing and wringing dry and separating the chopped (formerly frozen, eight boxes of) spinach, cutting up the veggies (peppers, carrot shreds, mushrooms and onions), and then mixing all that with eggoid (“egg substitute” for all of you not part of this household) and cheese (two parts shredded fat-free to one part simply shredded cheddar) took me just about all morning, once I got myself disconnected* from the computer, so that I only baked four or five batches (twenty-four quiches to a batch, six daysʼ of breakfast eating in a container). The process continues today, starting even before The Lovely One left for work.

This morning, I am four batches in, with most of a huge bowl of mixture to go, each baking (at 375°, or as I am doing today, 380°) requiring my attention twice, once at the twenty-minute mark to remove the two muffin pans from the oven and tenderly extract the metal muffin tins of little quiches onto cooling pads before inserting new cups to fill with more mixture and place back in the oven for the next twenty minutes. And once mid-baking-cycle to remove the twenty-four cooled quiches from their tins and place that batch in a plastic container for freezing.**

So why not finish yesterday/Wednesday, as I had the whole humongous four-mixing-bowls of (I am not sure… what would you call it?) batter prepared and partially cooked already on Tuesday? Why not? Because yesterday was my first full day at the Grand Opera House in Dubuque, working on the set, props, special effects, lights and whatever-else our scene and lights designer/technical director Keith could use me for. I left here at 8:00, arriving in Dubuque not much more than a half-hour later, around a massively piled-up detour to avoid five ethanol-filled, overturned, derailed train cars right off downtown.

Muh-muh-muh — my Makita (three jokes — okay, perhaps not funny, so: three “allusions” — in one package there)

I brought along my big red notebook, but there was enough to keep me busy, even on my own at first — devising a special prop/set piece, the electroshock machine, and switching out some furniture. I roamed freely through the basement bowels of the building discovering usable stuff and even almost wrestling a large electronics housing module (destined to become the electroshock machine) out of its storage spot and upstairs (it was the upstairs part that made my efforts there “almost”) until Keith arrived with a load of lumber and we set to work — him cutting boards and me utilizing both the Grandʼs and my own (nearly identical) Makita powerdrivers*** to assemble some Hollywood-style flats to then attach those into a unit for the Up Center wall, a section between two yet-to-be-finished windows. Keith also had me help create an oddly shaped platform to finish off the front end of the nursesʼ station Up Left. In the pre-Keith hours, I also developed the list of sound-effect cues and a list of those sounds for Keith (a sage and crafty sound designer/technician as well). He also used the midstage lift to elevate my potential electroshock machine and a big, heavy dentistʼs chair from the basement to stage level — pretty cool.

It didnʼt feel like much when we were done for the day, but my body knew how many hours and how much effort I had exerted crawling about on the stage drilling holes and driving screws. Today my hams are feeling the effects.

I also handled rehearsal on my own later on, last night. The Lovely One, having injured her back over the past weekend, finally took off a bit early from work to head for home and seek medical attention. Even though we took the two acts in reverse order (Two, then One), the cast sparkled brilliantly. We had felt awed by the outpouring of excellent talent at auditions weeks ago, and the cast Janet and I selected has amazed us ever since with their astonishing prowess, flair and panache.**** I left for home last night excited and delighted, optimistic that the group had some special insights and new performance twists to exhibit to Janet tonight.

And now I am nearly finished with the quiche-baking procedure. The composition of this post has been a four-batch process, and I hope to have this online before the last batch is done.

Then maybe I can get myself back to Dubuque to spend more time in an ill-lit auditorium preparing for our show.

One Flew over the Cuckooʼs NestSeptember 23 through October 2 (with the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in between off, Sundays at 2:00 PM) at the Grand Opera House in Dubuque, tickets available at the Grand ticket office and online, www.thegrandoperahouse.com/tickets.cfm).

* Rather than the wrongly regular disconnection from the internet that bad old CenturyLink¹ provides on such an irregular but frequent basis — roughly eight to more times a day nowadays.

¹ For those like me, not quite in the know, CenturyLink bought up rotten, lousy Qwest Communications some months back, so now itʼs the miserly, scrounging, despicable CenturyLink CEOs and out-of-touch Upper Management dweezils that I curse so often every day.

** And I just took off to do exactly that in reverse — pack up the cooled ones and then immediately pull the hot ones from the oven to to cool and then refill the muffin pans to cook again.

*** (Are they just power screwdrivers now or still considered a cordless power drill, too?)

**** Yeah, I know: all three of those nouns that conclude that sentence are mere synonyms. But synonyms donʼt have to slave identically in meaning, “synonym” just indicates similarity, and those three words each suggest quite different possibilities. The wonderfulness of the English tongue isnʼt that we have twentyteen ways to say the same thing, but that each synonym has shades of meaning missed by any other. Usually, not invariably.

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Formulaic

Lots of probably valid advice are* flickering out there in the digital ætherverse about how to improve and maximize the potential of “your blog.” WordPress offers some, and many bloggers have repeated (and repeated and repeated and…) some basic notions, achieving a clear-cut and simplistic formula for the blog-writer to obediently follow directly to success.

Fourth (it had to go here because I already had my three points in the post), a cute or snappy image (or two) is recommended to increase interest and attention. Not that this horrific picture qualifies. This image is one The Lovely One snapped of me for the program for One Flew over the Cuckooʼs Nest (I didnʼt choose to use it for reasons I believe are pretty obvious). Perhaps it should replace my aged Gravitar…

First, I am supposed to keep it short. Sometimes I do but not nearly as short (enough) as many, if not most, blogs, boasting just four or five short little paragraphs as a post. A short one for me runs about 400-500 words…

Furthermore, I need a very snappy lead (opening paragraph in just a sentence or two), followed by no more than three basic points, each stated as directly and briefly as possible. I should frame the post around a single clear issue and finish with a question to stimulate responses in the comments section. I have read some (some pretty good) blogs that follow this format, excessively programmatic as it seems. Most read like theyʼve been brewed (overly quickly) to a formula, bland and all-alike — like Hollywood movies. And the clever little question at the end often smacks of drooling manipulation (of the readers) or a desperate effort to turn a simple, gentle observation into a debatable controversy (or pose a question so bland no one really should feel motivated to bother answering).

Third, I should post regularly but not too often, so that my gentle readers donʼt feel overwhelmed with the responsibility of perusing my mortal observations. And my tags, that list of words in various sizes revealing the number of posts tagged with that term to the far right below the Category Cloud, need clarification and normalizing. This matter seems to preoccupy WordPress powerfully of late, because once I post manually, I arrive at a screen telling me how many posts I have made and how long this particular one is in words (a count that varies significantly, lower, from my own in Scrivener and theirs in the editing window for new posts, strangely), topped with one or more suggestions about more normative or obvious tags to draw seekers to my blog from search engines. For instance yesterdayʼs “You Have Posted” page got me to add the “dictation software” tag to my list, and I might have tried “Dragon Dictate,” “microphone” and about a half dozen other terms drawn directly from my text. Personally, I figure if I just tagged posts with “sex,” “naked” and suchlike lazy lures, Iʼd have all the pornseekers hitting on my blog all night and day.

So what do you think? Is pat formula preferable to crotchety, quirky curmudgeonliness? 

* It took me a second look, too, but “Lots,” the subject of that first sentence, is** clearly a plural.

** However, the word “lots” itself is just one word, therefore singular.

Footnotes are undoubtedly a poor idea, according to the formulæ, I feel sure. My cantankerous apologies.

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.