Thursday, September 29, 2005

Pleasant bus rides like this morning's almost make me want to rescind my vow earlier this week to "serial-kill all of Mississauga Transit."

One of the highlights of my bus ride to work this morning was opening a copy of the newspaper Dose and discovering that the center spread was a travel section all about Brockville, Kingston, Prescott, Gananoque, and the 1000 Islands -- all the places where I grew up. Included were photos of the Brockville courthouse, where I put soap in the fountain as a teenager, the Time sculpture on the Kingston waterfront, past which I frequently walked with girlfriends in university, and even my neighbor Muriel, whose house I helped renovate a few years ago. It was a nice surprise.

The other highlight of my bus ride was that the emergency exit window right in front of me came loose and started flapping around crazily, which was pretty exciting.

They Have a Word for It

From the Amazon review of They Have a Word for It : A Lighthearted Lexicon of Untranslatable Words and Phrases:
How much happier Strunk and White would rest if we could just say Torschlüsspanik when discussing "the frantic anxiety experienced by unmarried women as they race against the 'biological clock'"; Treppenwitz when referring to the "clever remark that comes to mind when it is too late to utter it"; and Schlimmbesserung when lamenting "a so-called improvement that makes things worse."
How can I not buy this book?

In related news, A Hand in the Bush: The Fine Art of Vaginal Fisting isn't on my Amazon Wish List (and I assure you, I only got to that page through a very convoluted set of circumstances), but I laughed out loud at this review:
This has to be the worst martial arts technique book on the market. There was no practical use of the fist for street self defence unless you were attacked by a very wet and naked horny Lesbian on heat. I didn't realise that Master bates was not a martial artist in the true sense of the word. This book was a total dissapointment from a Self Defence point of view although i am a total hit with the ladies. Please forgive any error in grammer as my fingers are still sticky.
I know I shouldn't laugh at that, but I can't help it. That should be book jacket copy on the next edition.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Peter Lynn: Foot-and-Mouth Artist

Speaking of foot-and-mouth artistry, I just came from this conversation:

Me [wielding forkful of chicken]: Who wants a fork in the neck? You?

Housemate: Who wants a fork in the balls? You?

Me: I'll give you a fork in the balls!

Housemate: You can't, 'cause I don't have balls.

Me: I'll give you a fork in the ovaries, then.

Housemate: I don't have those either.

Me: Yes, you do. You're a girl. Do I have to explain how this works.

Housemate: No, I don't. I had them taken out when I was a baby.

Me: So you can't have children?

Housemate: No! My ovaries got taken out. There was a problem. I don't have a uterus, either.

Housemate's boyfriend: What?

Housemate: Why do you think I always talk about adopting?!

Me: So all those jokes about you two breeding alcoholic Irish/Indian children aren't true. Or, I guess it has to be nurture instead of nature.

Housemate's boyfriend: She's joking. Look at her smile.

Housemate [upset]: You think I'm smiling?! Fuck you, asshole!

Housemate's boyfriend: You can't have children.

Housemate: I've never told you because it shouldn't matter. If you love me, it shouldn't fucking matter. What's wrong with adopting?

Housemate's boyfriend: You could have told me.

Housemate: Oh, so you're going to be that guy! Mr. I-Don't-Want-to-Raise-Anyone-Else's-Children-They've-Got-to-Be-My-Biological-Children. Well, fuck you, and fuck you, Pete, for bringing it up!

Me: Uh, I'll see you guys later.


Me [whispering]: Dude, she was kidding, right?

Housemate's boyfriend: I hope so. News to me if she isn't.

Me: But aren't you guys using condoms? What's that all about then? What's the point?

Housemate's boyfriend: Well, she and I are going to have to have a little talk about that.

Friday, September 23, 2005

“Haw Haw, I'm the Mexican Vale Tudo Champion!”

Image hosted by Photobucket.comMy old friend Mike "The Math Librarian" Martelle went down south of the border and then south of the border again to Rosarito Beach, Mexico to make his mixed martial arts debut. As you might have guessed from the photo to the right, he won, and in the easiest way possible.

Here is, in Mike's words, how it went down:

Sadly, my opponent fell for my mind games, and actually fled the arena 15 minutes before go time. I waited in the ring for 10 minutes while they scoured the streets looking for him!

So much for Esteban "El Loco" Garcia being the toughest guy in Tijuana!

So I'm standing in the Mexican ring, and the referee, UFC ref Larry Landless, is really giving the crowd no mercy on the fact that their local boy punked out. He's saying stuff like "This man came from Canada and struck terror in the Mexican fighting spirit. People turn on their heels and flee before him, so I have no choice but to declare him your winner …." The 2,000+ sold-out crowd is booing like I've murdered someone, so I climb on the ropes and act like I'm squinting into the crowd for my opponent. More boos. Finally I remember the heel line suggested by Peter Lynn, and I call out ...


Which resulted in the boos becoming so deafening that Landless and I actually break into laughter, and he raises my hand AGAIN. I have a GREAT photo of the very moment. As we're laughing, I spot Rey Mysterio Jr ( in full mask ) seated at ringside, shaking his head in disdain. So surreal I don't even know what to think, but then I remember the promoter mentioning how he's old pals with Rey Sr., and they both sometimes attend his shows.

Haw Haw! I told off Rey Rey, and by proxy, so did Peter Lynn!!!


Rey. Mysterio. Junior. So awesome. Mike really did me proud even though it sounds like he didn't have an opportunity to get his hands on a microphone while in the ring (unlike in a post-match video interview he did, where he seemingly takes every available opportunity to unnecessarily put his hand on the interviewer's microphone, pawing at it constantly while lamenting the fact that he didn't get to use his Isoceles Triangle Choke or any of his other secret mathematician moves). But if he had, we had so much planned.

I'm sort of Mike's spiritual Jimmy "The Mouth of the South" Hart, and before he went down to Mexico, we met up and discussed at length how he could get some serious heel heat when taking on the local boy. My original idea for him was to play an Ugly Canadian character -- kind of like an Ugly American, but, you know, slightly nicer. "Speak English and French!" he'd demand, Canada being an officially bilingual country. Mike also had a great pre-match spiel worked out:

"Let me just say a few things:
  1. I hate this crowd.
  2. I hate this arena.
  3. I hate this town.
  4. I hate Mexico.
  5. I hate your hat dance. And,
  6. When I get done beating up your local hero, I'm going to find the prettiest girl in your town and buy her for two shiny American quarters."
Although it occurs to me now that he could have also derided their Taco Bell restaurants, I only added the bit about the Mexican Hat Dance to that, for it was perfect already. A co-worker of mine (and clearly an old-school wrestling fan) suggested yesterday that he could have put a large sombrero in the center of the ring, pranced mockingly around it, and then stomped it flat. That would have been fantastic. Of course, this kind of thing also got "Classy" Freddie Blassie stabbed on 21 occasions by enraged fans, so maybe it's for the best that it didn't happen.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


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"Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Mark Messier?!"

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Kamikaze love

"As one who recently put a relationship in the opposite sex in quite possibly insurmountable jeopardy because of his love for edgy jokes, I'm on your side."
It fairly boggles the mind to speculate what kind of edgy jokes a bible college student might make, but Ken’s response to my last post got me thinking about an old girlfriend of mine. We dated for about 16 months at the end of my university career. At the time, I was something less than the perfect boyfriend, I admit. I was unemployed, starving, and gripped by a vicious quarter-life crisis. And yet, through it all, she stuck by me with a loyalty that was all the more admirable in light of the fact that she clearly hated my guts.

Perhaps the hate kept her going. I’d resolve to break up with her, and then she would show up with a carload of groceries. Seemingly an act of charity – even love – to the casual observer, we both knew it was a calculated act of naked aggression designed to trap me with her for at least another few weeks until the food was all eaten and I could again begin to consider breaking up with her with a clear conscience. Besides, she wouldn’t have to hear me talk while I ate, and she hated when I talked. She was, to quote the late, great Undeclared, not my girlfriend. She was my girl enemy. She was obviously dead-set on simply gritting her teeth and staying with me as long as it took to make sure I went to my grave a miserable, beaten man, for hate's sake spitting her last breath at me.

And yet, even in the company of a woman who clearly hated fun, I managed to spite her by enjoying myself.

I fondly recall our trip to the sporting goods section of Canadian Tire. My housemate Jon (who she quite liked, actually) was given to fits of boisterous laughter, usually provoked by childish activity. For example, I once watched far too much Tom Green and then put vinegar in my eyes to make him laugh. I was instantly in so much pain I couldn’t even scream. I just instantly curled up in the fetal position in utter agony, like a salted slug. But by god, did he laugh his merry guts out. Still, it would have been easier to just say the word “jizz”, as he seemed to have some bad wiring in his head that made him cackle with merriment upon hearing it. Jon wasn’t with us at Canadian Tire, but it was with his laughter echoing in my head that I looked at the hockey equipment.

I put on a helmet and gloves. Then I turned, standing knock-kneed, and looked at my girlfriend with a wide, vacant grin. I let a little drool escape. “Mnnnaaaa!” I said, smashing the back of a gloved hand into my own face. “Gnnuuuuh!”

She turned tight-lipped with anger. She turned and stalked off without a word.

I couldn’t find her anywhere in the store for the next 15 minutes, until I climbed a large ladder to look for her, which embarrassed her even further. Lord, how she made me suffer later. But did Jon laugh when I told him the story? No. He roared.

Sometimes, as a man, you do things knowing full well that they will get you in terrible trouble with a girlfriend or wife, and it’s well worth it as long as you know you’ll at least get a story out of it that amuses your friends. When you do the mental calculus, you find it’s a fair trade-off. And the math just gets easier if you and your lady don’t even like each other that much anyway.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Another Airbus disaster

Let me tell you about my commute home yesterday.

After work, I got on my usual bus home, or so I thought. It drove along Eglinton Avenue for a while, then took a sudden left turn. Then I realized that while I was off work last week, Mississauga Transit had made a few changes. I’d carefully checked out the upcoming route changes beforehand, and my usual route home (the 17) was unaffected. The 17 was the only one along Eglinton, so it used to be a no-brainer: A bus comes, I’d hop aboard, I’d go home. However, what I didn’t know until then was that they'd added a new one along Eglinton (the 35), which goes somewhere decidedly not Islington station, and which I was currently on.

So I consulted with the driver about what to do to get back on track. "How about the 27?" he asked, pointing at the bus that was just arriving at the intersection we were crossing. Yes, the 27 would work! I take it to work in the morning instead of the 17, in fact. I ran for the new bus, made it aboard just in time, and settled in for the trip home.

Or so I thought. After a while, this bus also took a sudden left turn. Great.

"This is going to sound like a stupid question," I asked the driver, "but am I on the 27?" He looked at me like I’d asked a stupid question. "What bus am I on?" I sighed.

"You're on the 7. You're going to the airport."

Jesus Christ. Two wrong buses in one trip. This was only partly my fault. The other driver had said (or at least very strongly implied) it was the 27, and the front LED panel that should have confirmed this fact had been so sun-bleached and faint that it hadn't said anything. Why does Mississauga Transit keep conspiring to send me to the airport? Last time, the driver simply got lost for a half hour and an escort car had to be sent to bring him home. Maybe I should take the hint. Maybe I should just get on a plane and never come back to Mississauga.

"Look on the bright side," a girl said. "You get to see a whole new part of town."

"I've seen this part of town," I said. "I hate this part of town. It's terrible." Mississauga is unlovely as a rule, the industrial parts and the parts near the highways are worse than usual, and as for the airport, well, it is not for nothing that Douglas Adams wrote that it was no coincidence that no language had ever produced the phrase "As lovely as an airport."

So we got to the airport, and I had to jump aboard the 192 airport shuttle, which was waiting there. This finally brought me down to Kipling station. Where I'd normally take one bus, and then the subway, I managed to take three buses, only to arrive at the subway at a more distant point than the one at which I'd normally board.

The irony is that I actually arrived home at the very same time I had the day before, when I did everything right. It was a ridiculous detour, but I managed to make all my connections just right, so it didn't really set me that far off schedule.

Still, that doesn't mean I'm not an idiot.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Sorry about the keyboard

There's an old practical joke in which you fill a glass of water, cover it with a thin piece of card, quickly turn it upside-down upon a table, and then remove the card. The result is an upside-down glass of water virtually guaranteed to spill all over the place when it is eventually picked up.* You can use a clear glass, in which case the person who has to remove it instantly sees his eventual fate and despairs, or you can use an opaque cup, in which case the victim is caught entirely unawares. Both ways are good. It's a type of prank in which the perpetrator is usually long gone by the time all the action goes down, but even in absentia, it's immensely rewarding, if a bit childish. You've probably heard of this one. I think I must have first learned it from an Archie comic, which makes it, if not as old as the hills, at least as old as malt shoppes, jalopies, and plaid-pants/sweater-vest ensembles.

I'd kind of forgotten about it, but Jay prompted me while visiting on the weekend to share the tale of another gag from this school of Trojan-horse practical joking that I perpetrated back in university. And as I take a perverse joy in reminders of my youthful misdeeds (the first time something I did showed up in my local newspaper's police report, I kept the clipping for years), I relate it here.

I've probably mentioned that I used to write for a little campus humour newpaper named Golden Words back at Queen's University. The paper's offices were shared with those of the Queen's Engineering Society, by which I mean that they owned a spacious office that housed our operation in a tiny closet into which were crammed a couple of desks, a filing cabinet, and thousands of stale gags about the varying quality of cafeteria food.

It was late one night in the office, and everyone had long since gone home. Jeff, the office manager, had left. Keith, the EngSoc president, had retired to his abode. The only ones around were your narrator and GW stalwart Justin Skinner (one of the paper's true legends, incidentally). It wasn't a press night, as I recall; I believe we had simply stumbled in after the pub upstairs had closed. There was no one but us. Us and it. There it was: an old, broken keyboard sticking out of a garbage can.

Justin and I looked at each other.

We looked at the keyboard.

We looked at each other.

We knew what we had to do.

We pulled that thing out of the garbage can, pulled out the hammers (of course we had hammers; we worked for an engineering humour paper) and set to work on control-alt-deleting its very existence. Keys went flying. Wires were wrenched and left dangling. The adjustable legs were kneecapped, so to speak. Cords were tangled. The space bar stuck out at an ugly angle. The whole unit was bent slightly across a knee. We destroyed it with flair, specifically attacking its form rather than its function in order to make it not only be as broken as possible, but look as broken as possible.

Then we took it over to Jeff's desk, hid his perfectly functional keyboard out of sight beneath, and placed the shattered, murdered remains of the discarded keyboard in its place so that it would be the first thing he saw when he came in the next morning. As a final touch before we left, we left a small Post-It note stuck to the monitor simply reading thus:

Sorry about the keyboard.

As I heard it later, Jeff came in the next morning, saw the mangled keyboard, and absolutely freaked out, thinking the place had been vandalized and robbed. Then, as Jeff read the Post-It, Keith happened to walk in. As Jeff was strangling Keith, the two of them managed to piece together that the last two people seen in the place were Justin and Peter, and they worked out what had happened. Both being good-natured guys, they immediately saw the humour of it, and we all had a good laugh over it in the end.

As for the upside-down glass of water thing, I did that one too that night in the office. Only, I used urine instead of water. History does not relate how that one worked out, but I imagine I'm the only one who had a good laugh over it in the end.

* In fact, you could probably sweep the glass off the table into a bucket with a minimum of fuss. If you thought of it. Or if you read footnotes.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


"I know you can be underwhelmed, and you can be overwhelmed, but can you ever just be, like, whelmed?"
Chastity [Gabrielle Union], 10 Things I Hate About You, 1999

"And why, come to that, can we be overwhelmed or underwhelmed, but not semiwhelmed or--if our feelings are less pronounced--just whelmed?
Bill Bryson, The Mother Tongue, 1990

As you can see, I know 10 Things I Hate About You isn't original screenwriting 'cause I looked it up. That's one of the skills that I learned in my school.


When I was a kid, I hated country music. It's all I heard coming out of my dad's radio, and for the most part, it sucked ass. And the country music of today, well, it definitely sucks beyond ass. But the old stuff, the Patsy Cline and the Johnny Cash, I've always respected. Lately, late at night, after Conan O'Brien ends and the infomercials begin, there's been a thirty-minute ad that keeps airing. Tammy Wynette singing "D-I-V-O-R-C-E" in the thickest of southern accents, looking absolutely heartbroken. Donna Fargo singing "Funny Face" even though she herself isn't really a classic beauty or anything. A young, heavily madeup and false eyelashed Dolly Parton singing "Coat of Many Colors" and making one realize that by God, if there's one person in the world who's completely good through and through and doesn't have an evil bone in her body, it's probably that Dolly Parton.

And all of this has made me reaize something: Country music is awesome. It's just not the sort of thing you can appreciate as a kid. It comes with age. There's an old Kids in the Hall sketch where a just-dumped Bruce McCulloch says that country music all makes sense to him now. It's played for laughs, but that's the thing about old-school country music. It wasn't this current adult-contemporary-in-hats thing. It was straight from the heart, direct from people who'd loved and lost. It was as real and raw as the blues used to be and as rap is today. And it's maybe not something anyone can really understand until he or she has had his or her heart broken.

All of this is introductory to the fact that I was talking today to an old friend I haven't seen in a long, long time, and I asked how his girlfriend was, only to find out that they broke up. Ouch. It was kind of like the conversation I once had that went "How's your grandma? / Oh, she died." (This was followed by my digging a hole, crawling into it, and dying.) I'm no expert on interpersonal relationships, but I've had my share of country-music experiences, so here's my advice for what it's worth:

If you're in such a situation such as mine, after you collect yourself from under the table where you've surely slid into cringing, foot-in-mouth mortification, the thing to say is not how you never really liked or approved of his girlfriend all along. He doesn't really want to hear that. Part of him probably still loves her, and it's like telling him he was an idiot for ever loving her. Just tell him how much you like him, that you're on his side.

That's it. Final thought. Be good to yourselves, and each other. That's Jerry Springer. Close enough to country music.

I'm a drunk dude

I'm a bit of a drunk dude right now. I know posting has been a bit light as of late, but I've been on a nine-day weekend lately. Where blogs are concerned, there are basically two things that can happen when you're on vacation. Either you're so busy doing things like travelling and whatnot that you don't have time to post, or you're sitting around in your underwear the whole time and not leaving the house, and not having any new experiences, and thus not having anything to post about. Unless you want to hear about how awesome the newly released NHL 06 is, of course.*

All that said, here's my chance to pass you off to some people who may have things to say. Follow the hyperlinks. In lieu of content, link-o-rama! Good old Jay Pinkerton was back in town tonight, and it was good to see him. He brought his nice little girlfriend Karla with him, and it was lovely to finally meet her. Also in attendance were Matt and Sofi. And then there were a few old friends with lives, not blogs.

Now, I think the roof of my mouth is bleeding for some reason, so I'm going to see to that, and then off to bed.

* It's not totally awesome, actually. There have been a few times where the interface has been so unintuitively put together as to make me literally shake my head with disapproval.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

The box step

In the spirit of Brian McFarlane's It Happened in Hockey book series, there's a thread on the Hockey's Future message board about the oddest things ever to take place on the ice. There's some good stuff there, but here's one that made me laugh out loud:
One night in MSG, referee Wally Harris awarded penalties for dancing to two players who had dropped their gloves and circled for over a minute with no blows being exchanged. Crowd roared with laughter and Rangers coach, Emile Francis almost wet himself when the penalties were announced. NHL president Clarence Campbell, later to embark on a life of crime, was not amused.
A minor penalty in hockey is punished by a two-minute sentence in the penalty box. But, officially speaking, these ones were probably given for fighting, a major penalty. That's five minutes for dancing.

P.S. This is from another thread, but I find the idea of Manute Bol playing a game for the Indianapolis Ice pretty weird too. And hey! Isn't that Saddam Hussein on the ad on the boards below him?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Quitting English

In the comments section of a recent post, Ken 1 pointed out an egregious lexicographical flub with the following comment:
Pretty soon I'm just going to have to quit the English language.
I’ve been thinking about this. Let’s do it. Let’s quit English. Anyone can pick it up, but few bother to master it, and there’s the problem. The vandals have taken over, so let’s just abandon it and start up a new language. Or if that’s too much trouble 2, let’s at least have a premium, subscribers-only version of English. We’ll reboot the language, lay down new rules, and give it room to grow in the right way. Eventually the two versions of the language will diverge as the people using the free version of English twist and pervert it into an increasingly debased pidgin tongue, and for all purposes, we’ll have a new language of our own. I’ll still have to use regular English at work, of course, but I use Internet Explorer there too, but that doesn’t mean I can’t use Firefox at home.

Here are a few ideas for English Premium. Some are new things, some are old, I don’t take credit for any of them, but I like them all:
  1. The first place to start is with our lack of a satisfactory gender-neutral third-person pronoun. The generic he is unsatisfactory and a little sexist. He or she is cumbersome. They is (or is that are?) plural, and ought to stay that way. We’ve got it, but it’s a little inanimate, where we’re looking for neuter. We’ve got one, of course. But one may find oneself sounding a little stilted when using it in conversation with one’s friends. We could do worse than to give it a shot using Spivak pronouns such as E, em, eir, and emself. They’re just the they forms with the th knocked off. That makes some sense.
  2. We might be introducing a new batch of pronouns there, but there’s some good old ones we should take another look at. Unless you’re a Quaker, you’re not using the archaic singular second-person pronouns thou, thee, and thine anymore, and more’s the pity. There’s no need for a distinction between singular and plural second-person pronouns, you say? If only. Then no one would be using words such as youse and y’all. Clearly, there’s a linguistic need here. Let’s fill it with some old favorites and ditch the regrettable replacements. Youse, scram. Y’all, don’t come back now.
  3. Now and then, it would be handy to have not just a third-person pronoun, but also a fourth-person pronoun, as in Algonquian languages. When you have a lot of sentences like “He gave it to him”, things can get a little confusing. Yeah, you could just use people’s names, but that takes longer and it doesn’t help much when you’re trying to distinguish between the dozen girls named Mackenzie in your niece's class. Split the work up among proximate and obviative pronouns, and you lose potential for Abbott-and-Costello-style comedy routines, but you gain in clarity and speed.
  4. Along the same lines it helps clarity to have different pronouns denoting the inclusive we (including the listener) and the exclusive we (excluding the listener). This is also common in Algonquian, as well as in Austronesian languages and others throughout the world. If nothing else, it’d be handy for ditching people, as you could more easily say things like “We [but not you] are going to the bar” and not worry about sending out the message “We [including you] are going to the bar.”
  5. Following from that idea, we have two main ways of denoting grammatical number: singular and plural. Some languages, however, have the concept of dual number. Arabic has it. Inuktitut has it. A bunch of Slavic languages has it. Old English had dual pronouns, and we still observe differences between both and all, among other things. I like the idea of bringing back dual pronouns. It could only make love poetry better. It might make things easier when taking about pants or scissors too.
  6. That’s five on just the pronouns, and that amounts to a lot of changes, frankly, so let’s move on. Making things short and sweet, I’m up for some new punctuation: the interrobang, the rhetorical question mark, and the sarcasm point. (Two of these are actually old punctuation.) I’ve mentioned these before, and I’m still all for them.
  7. Th isn’t just the pairing of t and h. It’s a separate letter. It’s two letters, in fact: the voiced th, as in them, and the voiceless th, as in this. The Québecois can’t make these sounds, invariably substituting d and t, respectively. Let’s flaunt our mastery of interdental fricatives by bringing back eth (capital Ð, lowercase ð) and thorn (capital Þ, lowercase þ), the characters that Old English used to represent these sounds and that Icelandic and Faroese still use. It might also make it easier to figure out the liner notes of Sigur Rós albums.
  8. I’m a proud Canadian, and I make sure I put my u in when I’m spelling colour, but in the spirit of compromise, I suggest a general guideline of using British punctuation but American spelling. Frankly, it makes sense. Noah Webster was on the right track when it came to simplifying spelling for the colonies, as the Brits had and still have a lot of idiosyncratic orthography, such as gaol instead of jail. On the other hand, the British system of punctuation is more logical in some respects, especially governing the placement of periods and commas in relation to quotation marks. I still want the serial comma across the board, of course. It’s clearer. And I like the diaeresis in words such as coöperate. The New Yorker does it, Ray Smuckles does it, and it’s just plain classy.
  9. Whom, whence, whither, hither, thither, yonder, will, shall – they may be archaic, but they’re all good words, and they were invented for good reasons. Let’s not let them slip out of use, and let’s use them correctly. None of this business with whom used in the nominative case, or the redundant from whence.
  10. Finally, the French may not be able to pronounce th, but make no mistake – the French have got it together. We might scoff at the Académie française for wasting time by deliberating whether French people are allowed to say hot dog or if they must instead say chien-chaud. But when people start using junk English such as verbed forms of impact and dialogue, I wouldn’t mind having an official authoritative linguistic governing body in charge of telling them to knock it off. Let’s give binding legal power to the people who put together Lake Superior State University’s Banished Word List. Let it be like the Académie française, whose forty members are called the Immortals.3 That’s just plain cool.

1. For more on Ken and what he might do after quitting English, check out his recent scholarly discussion of speaking in tongues. The dude makes Bible college seem like some kind of actual education.

While I'm on the subject of young Ken, our old pal and occasional contributor Scott recently gave him some terrific advice on the forum, and I thought the following bit was worth repeating.
So far I've seen direct references to your head being both too big and too small. Very upsetting.

Solution: Keep better tabs on your head size. Monitor it from time to time. It's not the kind of thing you want to just let slide. When you hear people saying that your head is too big don't just pass it off as inaccuracy or jealousy. Try to make your head a little smaller. For the times that you peek in a mirror and find that your head is too small just grow it a bit. We're not talking rocket science here.

2. And it is too much trouble to start up a new language. A few months ago, I was at my friend Barry's house and I saw a little plaque of a guy hanging up that was labelled "Zamenhof". So I asked what the Esperanto guy was doing on the wall, and Barry's head almost exploded, because I was the only person he knew who'd ever made that connection except for his dad, who it turned out, is the only Esperanto speaker either one of us has ever met. He told me it would make his dad's day -- year, in fact -- if I told him I wanted to become his Esperanto student, but I had to decline. I don't want to break an old man's heart by lying to him. Esperanto is like the linguistic equivalent of Mah-Jongg; it's supposed to be fun and easy to learn, but just seems too foreign and too uncommon among the under-80 set for me to work up much interest in it.

As for Klingon, let's not even get into the kind of people who learn that.

3. This flies in the face of the oft-quoted maxim "There can be only one", of course. But then again, it has always been the French way to be contrary, n'est-ce pas?

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