Friday, April 18, 2014

National Poetry Month is eating my brains.

I just thought you'd all like to know--you, the reading public--that my lack of posting, or postage, or whatever nominalization you prefer for "where on earth is The Megastore?"--it's all the fault of the cruelest month, April, which is (coincidentally? I think not.) National Poetry Month. So, you know, you can go read some poems over here. I am behind, but just one poem, so I'm feeling pretty good about that. Dr. Write is also posting poems. In conclusion, it is super poetish over there.

In the meanwhile, I do have some recommendations, however.

The Megastore Recommends.

1. Getting your visa application mailed off finally. You guys, do you realize that when you go to China, your passport is like chopped liver? And by "chopped liver," I don't mean "something gross, whoever THOUGHT of that?," I mean "something that is pretty much useless without a visa." AND, the people, getting a visa means a lot of steps that make your head hurt. As in, do you need to have all your hotel reservations and your plane reservations set? or is that a little waffly, and will your basic itinerary do, as long as you have an invitation letter from someone in China, aka your son? How much does it cost? HOW MUCH? omg. And you need pictures. And you need a FedEx office. And so many steps that you think, whoops, too bad I already bought my plane tickets, because I am never going to get this done.

But then you do get it done, step by step, and all your brains are still, mostly, in your head, except the poetry-writing portions. And then you wait.

2. The amazing food you will eat when you are in China. Everyone I read says that the food in China is beyond. My son says so. My friend says, "Make sure you eat Uighur noodles!" I tell my son about the Uighur noodles. He says, via Google Hangout, "They're all right. Tell your friend (shrugs with palms up) 'They're all right.'" With or without the noodles, though, I am going to try as many things as possible. I am looking forward to what China will taste like.

3. Don't think about the crazy toilet situation over there. Just don't.

4. Also, while you're not thinking about things, don't think about that fourteen hour flight. It sounds horrible.

5. Do think about the fact that there are beautiful mountains near and around Chengdu. 
Like these:

The people, I recommend Chinese mountains like these.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Hey ho, let's go!

It's Monday!

Here's something I treasure: a day with no big plans, or no big plans that require me to be somewhere on time, or disappoint someone. A day when I can wake up and say, what shall I do today? Even if the question is just a little bit rhetorical--as in, I've got a hella lotta grading to finish, so what I shall do today includes a hella lotta grading. Even so: I can lounge and be insouciant and wear slouchy clothes and eat what I want when I want and take a nap. And do a hella lotta grading.

I just planned my week, and it's not so bad, if I do say so myself. It includes open-er afternoons than those to which I have lately been accustomed (p.s., Google, stop correcting my spelling! open-er (more open) is not the same as open-air (Google's correction). Although an open-air afternoon is also a nice idea, come to think of it...

Carry on, Google.)

                                                          --yes, open-er afternoons than those to which I have lately become accustomed, a shocking lack of meetings, and (fingers crossed) the grading is actually diminishing. We are entering, almost, the small bloom of open time before the last-of-the-semester onslaught. Onslaught: what a word:
onslaught (n.) Look up onslaught at
1620s, anslaight, somehow from or on analogy of Dutch aanslag "attack," from Middle Dutch aenslach, from aen "on" (see on) + slach "blow," related to slaen "slay." Spelling influenced by obsolete (since c.1400) English slaught (n.) "slaughter," from Old English sleaht (see slaughter (n.)). No record of its use in 18c.; apparently revived by Scott.
(Also, is it just me, or does it kind of rhyme with Anschluss?)

I call this small bloom of open time the lull before the onslaught. We are not there yet. But we are almost there. I can feel it. I can see it. It's a full-on synaesthetic experience, this almost thereness. Are you with me?

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

The State of the English Language: an update.

Abstract: The English language is still going to hell in a hand basket. Evidence: people are still using the lovely noun "gift" as a verb.

Background: Readers of this blog may recall that I have, upon occasion, pointed to this abomination--using "gift," the noun, in place of the perfectly serviceable verb, "to give." E.g., and to wit: "This scarf? My best friend gifted it to me for my birthday." ( < abomination. Appropriate: my friend gave it to me for my birthday." See? Perfect!)
It's a scientific report. Like my blog post.

Data: I'm no linguist, scientist, social scientist, or shaman. But I keep hearing people use this infernal locution: "She gifted me this fantastic yak hair sofa." "He gifted me my own heart served up on a platter!" "The cat gifted me with this dead mouse." Etc., etc., on the radio, in magazines. On blogs and social media. It hurts my ears and my brain. Also, I was thinking about it while I was walking from my car to my office. So, clearly, and to sum up, the data points to a continuing trend of a thing that is abominable!

Discussion: While it is the height of foolhardiness to attempt to change usage, one cannot stand idly by whilst people say things that hurt one's ears, and brain. Even if not standing idly by means sounding kind of persnickety, grouchy, and middle-aged. And rant-y. One must take up one's voice, one's pen, and one's blog in defense of what is right: the right of a verb to be a verb and a noun to be a noun, and never the twain shall meet, just in this one case, since of course it is the God-given right of words to transmogrify into whatsoever part of speech is necessary at the moment. Just not gift (noun) to gift (verb):  that is right out.

Conclusions/Recommendations: If you are one of those who has upon occasion, or frequently, given this gift-as-verb shenanigan a trial spin, do the right thing, and quit it. Cut it right out. Take a vow and never do it again. And if you're tempted, remind yourself of the pretentious, ultra-fancy wannabes to use it. Do you want to be a pretentious, ultra-fancy wannabe? I didn't think so.

If you have never and will never, good for you. Be stalwart. Giving is a beautiful thing. So is to give, with its deep and honorable roots as a verb:

what a splendid, splendid verb.

Gift, too, has deep and honorable roots--as a noun:

what a lovely, lovely noun.

Say it with me now: and never the twain shall meet.*

*except in the case of gifted, which is the past participle of (yikes!) to gift (verb), meaning "talented." This is the only exception we shall grant.


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