Monday, June 30, 2008

I Don't Wanna Grow Up, Cuz If I Did ...

... I couldn't be a Toys 'R Us kid.

At Toys 'R Us with my mother and my 3-year-old brother:

Me: Eema, you should buy Scrabble for the house so we can play when I come home.
My mother: But we already have Scrabble.
Me: Well, um, you had Scrabble before I took it to my apartment. Hey Rafi, you wanna go set off all the talking Elmos at once? [Which clearly he did.]

Epilogue: The next Shabbos I was home, we (me, my parents, and my 10-year-old sister) had a highly competitive Scrabble game that went until 2 a.m. on Friday night. My mother asked if we could play without points, just for fun. I told her that wouldn't be fun at all. Though all my Scrabulous practice did not let me beat my father, who won by about 5 points.

Uh. Oh.

Apparently, a study shows that flip-flops are bad for you. The study, though, compares flip-flops to sneakers, not four-inch heels so I hardly think it is relevant to me. Flip-flops are the least of the abuse I give my feet. I'm going to go put these on now.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Life Solutions Through the Movies?

This review of "Kit Kittredge: An American Girl" asked such good questions at the beginning.

"It’s a complex fate, being an American girl. ... Who are you supposed to be, or to avoid becoming? A nerd? A ditz? A flirt? A tomboy? What kind of role models are those make-believe princesses, those Bratz and Barbies, to say nothing of the real-life Britneys, Lindsays and Mileys?"

And it gives some fascinating statistics, like that Pixar has not yet made a movie with a female protagonist.

But its answer to the hardships of being an American girl? "The short-term answer is likely to be: Go to the movies."

Umm. Good questions, bad answer. Though I am sort of tempted to go to the movie with my Samantha doll. I might need to bring my younger sisters to make that even a little bit legit.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Heart Is Not a Verb and Other Lessons

Click to enlarge, but for the lazy, the text reads:

"In other states, the parks don't have much competition for tourists' attention. But if the millions of acres of parkland in New York want to compete with all the lights of Broadway, they've got to work day and night to be just as spectacular. Workaholic Parklands. Another reason I heart NY."

I really liked this ad. (See, see, NY has trees! and parks! and Broadway! Take that haters. I heart NY.)

Also, I pronounce the heart symbol as "heart" not "love" even though that might be copy-editor sacrilege.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Filled and Kicked the Bucket

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." --The Second Amendment

If you follow the news, which you should--with a real, print newspaper--so journalism doesn't die and so I still have a profession, you know that the Supreme Court handed down a big gun rights decision yesterday, which affirmed the individual's right to gun ownership.

That is neither here nor there (or maybe it is, but I'm not going to tell you how I feel about it). But Scalia's linguistic analysis, someone pointed out to me, is fantastic.

The dissent claims that the "bear arms" phrase is "a familiar idiom; when used unadorned by any additional words, its meaning is to serve as a soldier, do military service.'"

Scalia's response in the majority opinion:

"The word 'Arms' would have two different meanings at once: 'weapons' (as the object of 'keep') and (as the object of 'bear') one half of an idiom. It would rather be like saying 'He filled and kicked the bucket' to mean 'He filled the bucket and died.' Grotesque."

Sometimes, the Supreme Court says the darnedest things.

Faster Than an Outta Control Train

"Do we need to drink lots of coffee while you talk faster than an outta control train?"

When I get nervous or stressed out or excited or pretty much have any emotion at all, I talk fast. Really fast.

Once I called friends of a friend when I was in Israel for the year to find out about going to them for Shabbos and left a message on their voice mail. They called me back three days later, saying it had taken them that long to decipher what I was saying.

Last year, after giving an hour-long presentation on a seminar paper I was writing (I counted as pretty impressive the fact that I could talk for an hour about a paper I was writing, but then again I could talk for forever about Howell Raines), my professor's first words of feedback were: "Somebody's going to tell you this eventually, so I'm going to tell you now. You talk too fast. Slow down." (I, for one, counted it as even more impressive that I could talk fast for an hour about my paper.)

And my friends are mostly trained to understand my mile-a-minute conversations. They either share what is apparently a New York speed for conversations or at least can interpret mine. One friend in particular both talks fast herself and has trained herself by watching episodes of Gilmore Girls, which contain the fast and witty banter of Lorelai and Rory.

So, I count it as an accomplishment that last night I was able to reach such a speed in our phone conversation that she had no idea what I was saying. One for the record books.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Doomsday Is Near

I know, I know: Print media is dying because no one will pay for a newspaper when they can get it online for free, and newspapers don't know how to make money on the Internet, and anyway Americans care more about Britney Spears than what's going on in Iraq. I know.


What would possess a newspaper to outsource its copy editing to India? I have heard rumors of such moves before, but seriously. Copy editing is a specific, language-based skill, which would, I imagine, be nearly impossible for people who do not speak English as a first language. And American English for American newspapers.

Next on the OC Register's to-do list: outsourcing its metro reporting to India.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Food and Shelter: More Important Than Grammar?

Last spring, a friend and I were frantically looking for an apartment to sublet in Washington for the summer. We had pretty specific requirements in terms of price and location and we had been wholly unsuccessful in finding anything. We were a few weeks away from graduation and both had good internships but the possibility of being homeless in D.C. was less than appealing and increasingly likely.

It was in this high-stress environment that I suggested to my friend that we needed to have ethics and standards in this search. Clearly we could not sublet an apartment from someone with blatant grammatical and spelling mistakes in their Craigslist ad. She said that clearly I was insane and wished to live in a cardboard box for the summer.

This article (sent to me by a friend) is by a reporter with a Lynn Truss-esque urge to edit  restaurant menus. I sympathize and have been tempted more than once to stand on the high moral ground and not eat at restaurants with egregious menu typos (all restaurants owned by Israelis, I mean you). But then I get hungry, sigh and order.

Outside of a Dog ...

"I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves."

When I get stressed (which is a pretty much my mode of being), I buy things. Clothing, food I don't need, coffee (which I do need), and books.

Books--especially used books--are the perfect (read: most dangerous in that I cannot resist) purchase because they are relatively inexpensive, they mostly come from small bookstores which I feel good about supporting (especially this one), and they are one of those things you just cannot have enough of because you always need to be reading and learning and stuff. (Also, that sentence is ridiculously long.)

Though it strikes me that probably you can have more books than you can afford or more books than you can store even if you cannot actually have too many books. But I still have more than half a shelf free on Billy (the bookcase that my friends and I carried across the Heights, who now has a name and quite a presence in our apartment), so I think I'm safe. For now.

In other news, I have started hanging pictures of cool bookcases on the side of the very cheap Ikea bookcase in my room. Very meta. Or something.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Random Connections or Lack Thereof

I have started a whole bunch of posts recently but have not been able to articulate what I want to say -- or even figure out what I want to say -- enough to finish them. Writer's block. Which is especially weird when combined with the fact that my brain will not stop thinking (which makes sleep sorta difficult).

Also, I do not know how to not be stressed out. Nobody ever taught me how to be content. And if I'm not still trying to get to the next level in so many realms, how could I possibly be content? Though a friend says that what I lack for in relaxation I make up for in self-awareness.

I am thinking that being in the center of the universe without many of my friends is, well, not fantastic. I am trying to make new friends, trying to make this my community, but I'm not sure how to do it.

And I'm not sure where I stand religiously. No, that's not true. I know where I stand religiously, but I don't know how others view me, which shouldn't matter, but maybe it does. Am I less frum because I wear open-toe shoes and red nail polish on my toes? Can shoes really be not tznius? I think no. But what does that say about me?

I've been feeling really ugly lately for no apparent reason. This is not fishing for compliments, mainly because you can't see me, but also because this is not about how people view me; it's about how I feel about myself. But then I'm worried about how my religious level is viewed by other people? I make no sense.

Also, this should really be one long paragraph a la Jack Kerouac, but in the interest of readability I've broken it up. I don't know if I really believe in making sacrifices of form for readability in writing (though I am thankful that I did not have to read On the Road in the scroll version). But I'm an editor. I mess up writers' form for the sake of function all the time.

It is late, my computer is about to die, and I am going to sleep. Or will at least try to sleep. If my brain stops thinking.

Elegy for Copy Editors

This article was sent to me by three different people this morning. I almost cried when I read it. I noted the same absence of a tribute to copy editing in the Newseum when I went. But I would like to think -- or hope -- that the author is wrong when he says that "if newspaper copy editors vanish from the earth, no one is going to notice."

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tic Tac Toast!

I almost bought this as a gift for a friend today. Tic Tac Toast! You can play tic tac toe on your toast. OK, maybe I am losing my mind...

Friday, June 06, 2008

Of Mice and Men

This morning, I stumbled into my kitchen, ready for work early, to get something to eat so I could have breakfast and read my newspaper before going to work. I was impressed with my morning accomplishments and looking forward to reading article #7,532 on these never-ending elections.

I walked into the kitchen and saw ... a small dead mouse on the floor. My roommates had all already left (the benefits of being a copy editor) and would all be gone through Shavuot.

I walked straight out of the kitchen, trying to think of a way I could avoid dealing with the mouse. I thought maybe I made it up. Maybe it wasn't there. Maybe it wasn't really a mouse. I peeked back into the kitchen to confirm that I wasn't making it up -- and that it had a tail.

I called a friend for a pep talk. She freaked out and advised that I should try to find a boy. I suggested that this was as good a reason as any to get married. (Cue gender issues.) She stayed on the phone with me as I used newspaper (the sports section) to sweep the thing into a plastic bag.

So, yes, girls can do anything boys can do, but I'm not sure why we'd want to.

(Note: Headline has been changed by request.)

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Deep Thoughts: The I Drove to Brooklyn and I'm Not Dead Edition

  • Starting your day with shopping, coffee and good friends is pretty much the best thing ever. Second only to hanging out with a friend in the gorgeous sunshine in a park, sprawled out on a blanket and people-watching (I mean, kid-watching) with, um, coffee. And then recovering from the exhausting experience with ice cream.
  • Being sheltered leads to biases. I'm sorry, I know that may be controversial and even insulting, but it's true. I understand the sheltering, really I do, but I just am completely unconvinced that it's worth the hatred, skepticism, and ignorance it breeds.
  • If you find an H&M shirt you like, buy it in every color.
  • I now know that I can drive to Brooklyn and back without killing myself. Which is a good thing to know, I suppose.
  • This TV show about high school students putting out a newspaper is hilarious in its awfulness. This brouhaha about the high school EIC e-mailing a college student-journalist (who goes to a certain college and works for a certain newspaper) who wrote some negative things about said EIC in a review is even more hilarious. (More to come on this show perhaps, though probably it warrants no more words.)
  • I feel sort of bad for Hillary.
  • I have a long to-do list and no motivation to do any of it, which is highly unfortunate. I am hoping the lure of free Starbucks tomorrow morning will get me up and out of my apartment and working really early.
  • I love Shabbos, but I hate making Shabbos plans with a passion.