So

(This is a rewrite of a post I did in 2013. I have to post it again after seeing the dolt – a beautiful dolt but a dolt nonetheless – that did it twice in the span of about 20 seconds tonight on Jeopardy.)

Somewhere along the line, while we weren’t looking, they changed our language.

We see the obvious culprits, the people who have ripped apart sentences and words and maybe even basic communication itself by doing nothing but text all day long (because they would rather use their phone for any other purpose than to actually talk to someone), completely forgetting about capitalization or basic punctuation, reducing everything to an LOL, a BRB, a “U” instead of you (because it’s too much trouble to type those two extra characters), tortured abbreviations, and maybe a ūüôā (emoticons have taken the place of emotion). We’ve seen the word “the” taken away from us. Suddenly everyone is saying “prom” instead of “the prom” and “hospital” instead of “going to the hospital,” like we’ve all suddenly become British (I’ll have some bangers and mash, and put them in the boot, please!). And we have the truly bizarre habit of using the word “so” to start a sentence, which can be fine if used correctly, but not when you’re simply answering someone’s question. Some quick examples:

Interviewer: “Where were you born?”

Hip Entrepreneur: “So I was born in New Jersey…”

Interviewer: “Tell us about your new app.”

Hip Entrepreneur: “So what this app does is…”

Interviewer: “Do you like pecan pie?”

Hip Entrepreneur: “So the first time I had pecan pie…”

Was there anyone who was the subject of an interview before the 2000s who answered questions like this? Of course not. When people were asked “What do you do for a living?” the answer would have been “I’m a writer,” not “So I’m a writer and I write about…” It’s really the weirdest thing in the world. It’s happening all the time now. You might not even hear it at first but once you do, it becomes very noticeable. It’s a verbal tic that tech and business people, most in their 20s and 30s (I first noticed it with Mark Zuckerberg years ago) but sometimes older, have adopted. Or maybe it’s not even a verbal tic. Maybe it’s actually the way people think you’re supposed to talk. I’d rather people say “um” at the start of a sentence. At least that’s a sound and they’re not inserting an actual word where one isn’t needed.

Communication is weird now. If we’re not starting sentences with the word “so” for no reason, we’re keeping our phones next to us while we eat dinner, getting irritated if¬†people use periods when they text., or we think that people are wasting our time when they take the time to say “thank you.”¬†If this is “progress” I don’t want any part of it.

Keep an ear out for it. You’ll be amazed how often you hear it. It might even start to bug the hell out of you because you’re noticing it and for that I apology in advance.

 

Wisdom

toothachegum1Toothaches are bad.

I know, I know, what a profound observation. To clarify: I hate tooth pain more than pain in other areas of my body. A sprained ankle or a bruised arm or a cut finger, while certainly irritating, can be dealt with. You stay off your feet for the day or you don’t use the arm as much or you put on a Band-Aid. But a toothache is one of those things you just can’t get to. You can’t “stay off your teeth.” The pain shoots up and gives you a headache, and you have to eat and drink liquid on the other side of your mouth, which never quite works because food and drink inevitably wander over to the side where you tooth is hurting you. Your days and nights involve a rotation of Advil and Anbesol and probably some other cures that being with “a” and you wait to see if the pain goes away because it’s “one of those things,” and then you realize the pain isn’t going to go away and you have to call the dentist.

Having said all that, I have a terrific dentist who saw me on short notice. He said it wasn’t too bad and gave me some antibiotics (“a”). Everything should be fine (until the next time it hurts – it needs to come out at some point). It feels a lot better than it did a few days ago, that’s for sure.

By the way, “wisdom teeth” should really be called something else.

Attack of Five Things About Media and Technology Right Now

(I don’t know why I started giving these posts classic sci-fi/monster movie titles, but there you go. Here’s Part¬†1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, and Part 9.)

1. Saturday Night Live went too far. While the first couple of Jake Tapper/Kellyanne Conway sketches were funny, they never veered into mean territory (and even if they did it was sort of a funny “mean lite”). The Fatal Attraction takeoff this weekend was way over the top. As I realized what direction the sketch was heading – they’re going to make her go full psycho? – I cringed. The show has now painted itself into a corner and has given people who hate the show a lot of ammo, just when it was relevant again (more importantly, the sketch just wasn’t that funny). Where do you go in the next sketch – and of course there are going to be more sketches – after you show her as a nutjob who tries to kill a news anchor and is then revealed to be the undead? (Also, come on: Tapper’s forehead isn’t that big.)

The Cheetos and Russell Stover sketches were good though.

2. When the first episode of a network show suddenly appears online before it premieres, it’s not a “leak.” It’s called “publicity.”

3. Geraldo Rivera has decided to leave his post at Yale University because they’re going to change the name of one of their residential schools, Calhoun College. James C. Calhoun was a slavery advocate and a white supremacist and students/faculty don’t want his name associated with it any longer. I understand the uproar against this, because we can’t go back and change the name on everything that exists because someone may have done something unseemly in the past. We’d have to change, well, everything that exists (though they couldn’t have made a better choice for the replacement than Grace Murray Hopper).

But I think I speak for everyone when I say…Geraldo Rivera taught at Yale?

4. I haven’t¬†watched or cared about the Grammys since I was 25 (many years and four presidents ago), but this new world where “everything is pop culture and must be commented on by every media outlet” means I found out that they forgot Kay Starr in their “In Memoriam” montage last night and it really kevins my bacon. She was fantastic.

5. Hey, there’s a name for a 37-part tweetstorm. It’s called an essay. Or maybe a blog post? A column?

Remember?

Winter

It’s snowing again. Or maybe I should say “still.” After weeks of 50 degree weather we got 14 inches the other day. Another 3 expected today before we get another foot on Sunday night/Monday morning. It’ll nearly be like a picture print from Currier and Ives.

I’d like to thank the people who parked their cars on the sidewalk¬†in front of my apartment the day after the 14 inches fell. Not only did you make it impossible to park any other cars in front of or in back of you, you made walking on the sidewalk more difficult. Well done!

Mary Tyler Moore

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Like most men of a certain age, I had an enormous crush on Mary Tyler Moore.

When I heard that she had passed away Wednesday at the age of 80, I got tremendously sad. As 2016 showed us, celebrities Рjust like real human beings! Рdie. But some deaths outside of your immediate circle of family and friends hit you harder than others.

She’s my first vivid female memory, if you don’t count my mother and sisters, and certainly my first vivid female pop culture memory, watching her play Laura Petrie on¬†The Dick Van Dyke Show. I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I was five years old, and my writing hero has always been Laura’s husband Rob. It was because he seemed to have that unique mixture of a great-paying job and a healthy home life. A writer with a great-paying job¬†and¬†a healthy home life?

I’ve always had a dual personality. I’m constantly in a battle with myself (hey, I’m a Gemini). Part of me wants to be the world-weary freelance writer, aloof, always on the go, swinging in on a chandelier to save the day with my typewriter. No bosses, no time clocks, no time for staff meetings or Dilbert-like politics. The other part of me desperately wants to be Ward Cleaver, with a solid home, a wife, the two kids, the wacky neighbors, a lawn, and health benefits. All writers know that those two worlds can never exist together, right?

Then I met Rob Petrie. Well, if you define “met” as in “watched every single episode of¬†The Dick Van Dyke Show¬†approximately 75 times.” He had it all! He had style and was quick-witted and funny and wrote for a hit TV show with friends Sally and Buddy in this big city called New York, a world of advertising and martinis and skyscrapers. But after work, he had a house. In the suburbs! New Rochelle, to be exact. 148 Bonnie Meadow Road (the same street show creator Carl Reiner once lived on). He had the beautiful wife, the cute son, the milkman, the neighbors who were also best friends. Jerry Helper borrowed power tools from Rob and his wife Millie swapped recipes with Laura.

My God, I thought to myself. That’s what I want. How do I get¬†that?

I think the 30-plus years I’ve been a writer has been a search for that life. I want that balance. I write full-time now but I haven’t found the wife or the kids or the home yet, but I will. I used to say that Rob Petrie was the big reason why I became a writer in the first place, and while that’s certainly true, I’m also a writer because of one of the most powerful goals in the world. I wanted to be married to Mary Tyler Moore.

Thanks Mary, for unknowingly pushing this Massachusetts kid to the life he wanted to lead. You not only turned the world on with your smile you turned my world on too.