Wednesday, October 29, 2003

the world is deaf 

WARNING: you are entering the "I am right, the rest of the world is wrong" Zone. No dissention will be tolerated.

My mom's maiden name (oh dear, here goes all my security down the drain) is Mary Barry. She has told me about how numerous co-workers of hers thought that her name rhymed. I always found this idea insanely humorous, since anyone could hear the difference in the two vowel sounds -- Mary has a bit of a "Y" sound in there (think of it as "mare" [like the horse] + "eeeee" [like the high pitched girly scream]), whereas the "a" in Barry is completely flat (think of it as "aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!" [like the Home Alone scream]).

and then I met Joellyn, my best friend & college roomie, who either hates me with an undying passion, or really can't hear the difference between those two sounds.

and now I find that over 50% of the country thinks that "Mary", "merry", and "marry" all sound the same. Not even 18% fall into my category of "right-thinking people who can clearly hear that these are three distinct vowel sounds". (for "merry", think "meh" [like the disparaging tone you use for people incapable of understanding your simple logic]) (and yes, Barry sounds like marry in my world.)

I suppose this is analogous to my inability to distinguish the 4 tones in Chinese, but it just makes me wave my hands in the air and scream "What is wrong with these people?"

(via LanguageHat)

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Tuesday, October 28, 2003

it might not fly as far as a paper airplane... 

but boy, i could waste an awful lot of time making paper plate art. I am soooo tempted to hijack singing rehearsal tonight and just force everyone to play. i mean, you don't even need scissors -- just tape and some bobbypins -- can't argue with that investment!

this will probably just turn into one of those "how cool" things that i never end up implementing -- like The World Record Paper Airplane Book that has never been used. Or my origami books. hmmm... maybe i should give up the idea of the karaoke birthday party and just make everyone sit around creating paper masterpieces....

(via Making Light, via Metafilter)

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Thursday, October 23, 2003

Every once in a while, i read something that causes 30 different story ideas to spontaneously erupt in my brain, and i have the momentary feeling that i, too, could be an author and here in front of me is my path to become one. these feelings are always fleeting -- i'm really much more of a reader, or possibly an editor, than a writer. i don't think i've written more than 2 pages of a story since elementary school. which is a pity. or maybe not -- perhaps the world is better off for not containing the dreck i would likely produce.

in any case, Teresa Nielsen Hayden has provided me with another batch of inspiration. Either scroll down to the middle of this comment list for her post (try searching for "posted on October 23, 2003 12:14 AM"), or enjoy the following. Anyone who writes the next hit novel using these ideas should give full props to Teresa and half props to me. <grin>

Some of the things I rant about when I'm reading slush:

(1.) Why do Dark Lords only ever want to take over the world? Why don't they ever want to appear on the cover of Vogue, or bag all the Munros in record time, or convert everyone in the world to Lutheranism?

(2.) Why is it always a Dark Lord? Why isn't it an evil syndicate or axis or cabal? And while we're at it, why do Dark Lords never have enough staffers to administer a large operation?

(3.) Why, in worlds that have a long tradition of working magic, a low level of technology, and little or no organized religion or codified theology, does everyone hate and fear magical powers, and persecute people who develop them? Most especially, why do peasants who have no other source of medical or dental care go out of their way to persecute and alienate their witchy-but-kind village healers?

(4.) Why do people who find out they're heir to great temporal and thaumaturgical power never say "Oh, goody!" And why is their artificially prolonged reluctance to do this obvious thing always referred to as "accepting their destiny" -- especially in causal universes in which destiny is not otherwise a recognized force?

(she's got two more entries in the list, but these are the ones that made me reach for a pencil & paper)

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Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Subtle but cool 

The NYTimes is changing fonts. I'm sort of a sucker for that sort of thing (in high school when i collected all sorts of news clippings, i liked being able to identify which paper a story came from just by the font), and so the fact that they have a side-by-side comparison of the font transition is just too cool for words.

I think i like the Cheltenham font better [I'm sure the Times is collectively breathing a sigh of relief at my approval], tho I'd have a hard time choosing between it and Bookman Antique (always one of my favorites). I do wonder why they didn't use the same exact text for the Times Cheltenham Medium example -- seems like the whole point would have been to keep the text exactly the same for this. Odd.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Pet peeve of the day 

In a Q&A column by Ken Mandelbaum, he addresses the question of whether it has become standard procedure to give a standing ovation to any theatre performance with a resounding "yes". apparently it's been a trend since i was born, but not so much before that. apparently i was born into the wrong era, because i often find myself sitting while surrounded by a standing crowd. i don't want to be a grump, i just want to reserve something for the stunning performances i'm lucky enough to see. often i'll end up standing just so i can see what's going on, but i generally hold out as long as possible. unless, of course, i've just seen a particularly memorable performance and i want to let the actors know that -- then i'll jump up as quickly as anyone. but not every performance is brilliant, so not every one deserves the highest accolades. and a standing ovation is part of that sliding scale of feedback. no wonder casts seem confused when their show closes even tho they were getting standing o's every night!

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Words to live... er... read by 

I've seen a couple of articles now about Nancy Pearl, the Seattle librarian who has inspired an action figure "with amazing push-button shushing action!" But the NYTimes included an extra tidbit that i may have to incorporate into my reading habits: The Rule of 50.

"Nobody should ever have to finish a book they're not thoroughly enjoying, but you need to give the book a chance," she explained. "It seems to me that a good amount of pages would be 50. At the end of 50 pages, you ask, `Am I really liking this book, or am I just gutting it out?' This rule worked well for me for many years, until I started to get closer to 50 years old myself. I realized that time was short, and that the world of books is larger than ever."

So Ms. Pearl, who is now 58, came up with this ingenious calculus of reading: "Now I have an amended Rule of 50: If you're 50 years of age and under, you follow the original rule. But if you're over 50, you subtract your age from 100, and that number is the number of pages you have to read.

It's nice to see that she kept it simple -- no incorporating the length of the book, or the point-size of the type, or the Dewey Decimal category that it falls into. I already have a tendency to leave books sitting around after starting them but not really getting into them -- if i had a point where an official decision could be made, i think i'd be alot better about clearing out my bookshelves.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2003

oh what a beautiful day! 

First off, so i don't forget in a month and a half: PBS will be showing the 1998 London production of Oklahoma! on Nov 22 (at least in the NYC & Boston area; other PBS stations' schedules may vary). Now there's something I can give thanks for -- i was actually living in London when this show was running, and i can distinctly remember walking by the posters and thinking "Why would i want to see Oklahoma done by a bunch of Brits?" Apparently the answer was so that i could have started my Hugh Jackman obsession earlier than the rest of the world. i've tried to make up for my mistake by buying the CD, but you know that's not enough. i'm really looking forward to seeing this.

In other Hugh news, the CD recording of The Boy From Oz will be available Nov. 18. It's already on my wish list.

No Broadway recording announced yet, but we've got yet another gorgeous pic and some quotes from Raul about Taboo. And apparently he's Catholic. tell me that he's single, and i'll move to NYC in a heartbeat. I'll even forgive his mouthing-off article in playbill a few days ago (not that i wouldn't want to be in Assassins if i were him. i just figure that publicizing it is not the way to keep Rosie happy)

(via BroadwayStars)

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Tuesday, October 07, 2003

is there something i should know? 

Now this is how we should have run our now-defunct book club -- reading selections from Simon LeBon's Book Club. Yes, that Simon LeBon. It's really a good selection -- I may have to base my next library picks on this.

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What is this man's problem? 

I'm sure most people remember Matthew Shepard, who was murdered in Laramie 5 years ago. Well, Reverand Phelps, the leader of Westoboro Baptist Church, wants to erect a memorial.

Here's the thing. Rev. Phelps is anti-gay, and this memorial is not intended to be "in loving memory":

It would bear a bronze plaque bearing the image of Shepard and have an inscription reading "MATTHEW SHEPARD, Entered Hell October 12, 1998, in Defiance of God's Warning: 'Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind; it is abomination.' Leviticus 18:22."

Set aside for the moment, whether or not being gay is acceptable. [just to be clear, in my opinion it most certainly is] Imagine for a moment that Phelps truly believes that being gay is wrong and that homosexuality is an evil that must be fought against. What on earth would make someone think that this is the way to go about your fight? This man is a Christian [again, to be clear, as am i] -- should he not be thinking about the family and friends of Matthew and how they will have to live with this? These people, who have not done anything wrong by Phelps' rules, are the ones being punished. Being this insensitive just makes a martyr of Matthew and pushes the public sympathy away from Phelps' cause.

Which, admittedly, is alright by me.

(link via Chris Baldwin)

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Monday, October 06, 2003

You go girl! 

Marni Nixon, the hidden voice behind such movie classics as West Side Story & My Fair Lady [as well as being one of the nuns in the film version of Sound of Music], will be taking over the role of Guido's mother in Nine on broadway. No, this is not balm enough for you to run out & see the show even tho Antonio has run off. Heck, i saw it with Antonio, and tho both his acting & singing is wonderful, even he + Chita's legs were not enough to make this show worth the ticket price.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2003

The workings of my brain explained. 

I've never liked the grammar rule that says you must put the comma/period inside the quotation marks in situations like this:

I seem to be the only person not calling atheists "brights."

To me, it just looks wrong wrong wrong. i'd much rather see:

I seem to be the only person not calling atheists "brights".

But i could never explain why. And now Skwid comes along and explains how years of programming have modified my brain's expectations of the written word. [search for his post of September 29, 2003 11:57 PM]

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