I have, from a very young age, had to work to dumb down my speech and writing. Really, as bad as I am now, as a teen, Troop would have had to beat me up on sheer principle. It took me years to master the word “ain’t”.

Of course, referring to it as “dumbing down” is somewhat pretentious in itself. It’s a combination of reducing vocabulary and using simpler, smaller or more common words and slang, using simpler grammatical constructions but primarily being concerned with communication.

That’s what it’s all about, ultimately, right? Communication?

A lot of grammar is contrived. That is to say, it’s bullshit. Not ending a sentence with a preposition, for example, is one of many Latin rules that were imposed on English that just don’t make sense. It’s one thing to champion a rule for the sake of consistency if it doesn’t sacrifice any clarity, but the preposition thing results in some highly convoluted phrasings.

One I’ve given up recently is the use of “their” for “his or her”. I’ve gone from using “his” (meaning “his or her”) to phrasing sentences so that “their” agreed with the verb (“The children open their presents” versus “Each child opens his presents”) to just using their, even though it doesn’t agree (“Each child opens their presents.”). My justification is the 1,000+ years prior to the subject-verb agreement rule where English speakers have used “their” with no ramifications.

I was thinking of this because I’ve given up on “Yeah!” I think most people see that and pronounce the “eah” as though it were the same vowel sound as in “bat”, which it can be. But it can also sound like the vowel in “bay”.

Problem is, in writing, as an exclamation, it’s not really useful. If I write:


You don’t know if I’m doing an Austin Powers “Yeah, baby!” or if I’m cheering for something.

So I’ve broken down and started using:


This post is really just a not gentle reminder that your host is a serious word nerd.

Betsy Russel Gets A Cramp

I was looking through my site referrals and discovered the maelstrom comes up first if you Google:

betsy russell i’ve got a cramp private school

I mention Betsy Russell in the context of the “Saw” movies, but I do recall this scene perfectly. Private School was a “high concept” movie (that was when the term was first popularized) that played out as Some Like It Hot meets Animal House.

Three high school boys are trying to get laid (duh) and the handsome one is in love with the acharacteristically reticent Phoebe Cates, while the fat one and the skinny one provide comic relief and sexual slapstick. Cates’ rival for the affections of the handsome one is Betsy Russell. (And what does it tell you that I can barely remember the boys in this movie at all but know Cates and Russell offhand? The supporting cast included Ray Walston and the movie’s absolute high-point, Martin Mull as a pharmacist helping the boy pick out condoms based on various aesthetic qualities.)

Anyway, at one point in the movie, the boys sneak into the girl’s dorm dressed as women because, you know, that way no one will recognize them or suspect anything. Betsy figures this out and decides to cause trouble by pouting and preening in front of the handsome one, so as to later feign outrage when his cover is blown.

At this point, she’s stripped down to her underwear, including some fetching tiger striped panties and complains about her figure. (Funnily enough, on a good screen, the lighting is not very flattering, but I assure you no one noticed at the time.)

Then she utters the immortal words, “I’ve got a cramp” and beseeches handsome boy to rub her thigh to help her–placing her foot between his knees and her thigh at face level. She may even be topless at this point.

What makes this post worthless is the absence of pictures, of course. But seriously, what do you expect me to do? Dig up a 25-year-old movie and post a clip?

Well, all right. Here you go. I think the cramp part comes after this (and after she takes off her shorts). It might be that she also takes off her top which is why the clip ends here.

Meanwhile, we’re still getting hits on Janet Leigh’s breasts, post-apocalyptic stuff (yay!), and barbarian sex novels (I feel guilty about this one).


I only put up a few of resolutions last year.

I wanted to exercise in a more structured fashion. Mission accomplished there.

I wanted to read a book a week. Nope. I don’t think, anyway. I didn’t keep track. But I still have this big pile of unread books so…no, I don’t think so. I’m going to try this again this year. What I have to do is take some of my late-night ‘net reading and switch to books.

Most of my failures to accomplish seem to fall under the category of “developed competing time-consuming habit.” Heh. I mean, it’s certainly not like I didn’t do a ton of reading last year. But I think the problem, in part, with limiting one’s reading to blogs is that there’s a limited amount of topics you can get depth on. And a limited area of fiction. (Though I did read Pride & Prejudice and Turnabout online last year.)

So I put up an average of nearly 2 posts a day here in 2008. And, perhaps surprisingly, movie reviews take a fair amount of time, as do the longish screeds. But I’ve been doing that online since ’91, and is probably the whole reason I hang out online at all.

So that probably won’t change.

I’d like to put up some original music and writings in the next year, and take another crack at the NaNoWriMo. We’ll see how that goes.

The business hit some snags last year. I’ve got some ideas how to proceed; we’ll see how those pan out.

This Year

Another year’s gone
Here comes a new one
What’s gonna happen?
This year

We’re gonna make it
Not gonna take it
Make no mistake it’s
This year

Last year was a fiasco
A real disaster
So full of sorrow

This year will be a great year
I just can’t wait, dear
Until tomorrow

Forget the old pain
Sing a new refrain
Uncork the champagne
This year

No, it’s not too late
We’ve got a clean slate
The future’s our fate
This year

Last year was a fiasco
A real disaster
So full of sorrow

This year will be a great year
I just can’t wait, dear
Until tomorrow

It’s after midnight
I’m just a bit tight
Hey, but I’ll be all right
This year

The year is brand new
The old one’s all through
And it’s time to kiss you
This year

–Loudon Wainwright III