Friday, January 29, 2010

(Another) Funky Friday

(Relax. I've put the posterior-themed posts to an *ahem* end.)

This past Monday was birthday to both Robert Burns and Etta James. But as much as I love the egalitarian sentiment of "A Man's a Man for a' That," it simply doesn't have the same funkitude as "Rock Me Baby:"

I just read that Etta's a bit under the weather, but she's expected to recover. Hope so -- even if she can't shake it like she used to in the '60s (check out "Etta James Rocks the House"), her performance last year on Dancing With the Stars proves she's still got plenty of soul. (And I hope I'm that smokin' hot when I'm 71!)

Anyway, I'm hunkerin' down here in Bubbaville for the latest round of winter weather; we're expecting up to a foot of snow by tomorrow night. Provisions are on hand, but if we lose electricity I won't be able to listen to Etta while I dance around to stay warm. Hmph!

Monday, January 25, 2010

I know, I know . . .

. . . I'm a "little behind" on posting something here.

I'm waiting for inspiration.

(Don't hold your breath.)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Funky Friday, Redux

It's been a rough week all around, folks.

Listen up and feel the love:

Read more about Elton and Betty White here and here.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Cabin Fever

While my house isn't quite as drafty as the one pictured left, I do feel justified in complaining about the cold. The spell of arctic weather verifies my suspicions that, of the multiple renovations our 100+ year old house has undergone, not one has included the addition of insulation.

At least we do have central heat, and of fairly modern vintage; one winter during my freewheeling youth I shared a beautiful old Pennsylvania farmhouse, built in 1783, that had no such amenity. There was a modern woodstove installed in the old fireplace downstairs, but the stone mass of the house was just no match for the stove's meager heat output. My housemates had kerosene heaters in their bedrooms, but I kept from freezing to death at night thanks to my cat, and my electric blanket. (Luckily we had indoor plumbing -- and plenty of hot water!)

I can't claim to suffer from cabin fever today. I can, however, use the sub-zero wind chills as an excuse to stay indoors and surf the 'net. Let hardier souls than I take to the ski slopes....

Thanks to the internet, I learned that today is Jimmy Page's birthday. And of course, yesterday would've been Elvis Presley's 75th. This celestial juxtaposition can have only one logical consequence:

OK, maybe the onslaught of winter has affected my sanity just a smidgen.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Apostrophes -- Our Next Endangered Species

(This repost from my JournalSpace blog is dedicated to The Plashing Vole.)

Twice yesterday my grammar radar was activated by the improper use of apostrophes in roadside signs. The fuel oil company's promotion of their "Summer Fill – Get Your's Now" was still fresh in my memory when, less than a quarter of a mile down the road, I drove past a furniture store that advertised "All Sofa's On Sale." These offenses against the rules of proper punctuation were compounded by the fact that the felonious signs were two-sided; the errors were in view both on my way in to and out of town, making a total of four apostrophes squandered, four apostrophes that won't be around when someone really needs them.

Lest you think I'm overly possessive with regard to apostrophes, consider that unlike the rhetorical apostrophe, the punctuation mark of the same name is not a resource with infinite reserves. In sixteenth century England, printers were the first to recognize that our supply of letters and symbols was not limitless. In Britain, there was in fact a shortage of the letter e around 1583, but the crisis took a backseat to larger political concerns. It was believed that additional vowels could be plundered from the Romance languages if necessary.

There was also widespread public resistance to printers' attempts to charge their customers a premium for vowels, so the symbol / '/ was appropriated as a stand-in for the /–e/ in the genitive /-es/. Hence, "the Queenes hand" became "the Queen's hand." This usage became the standard in Britain, and stocks of the letter e recovered sufficiently to allow for their export to colonies in the New World.

The discovery of the apostrophe led to still more grammatical changes, and the invention of the contraction allowed for further morphemic conservation. As is so often the case with progress, however, the apostrophe turned out to be a mixed blessing. The public's appetite for the /'s/ construction became insatiable. There arose a commonly held misconception that each and every terminal /s/ must be preceded by a /'/, and soon even possessive pronouns were not safe from having apostrophes wantonly insinuated into their spellings.

Today it is not only merchants' signage that offends; widely-respected periodicals, newspapers, and even handouts our children's teachers send home are the carriers of this epidemic. The omission of apostrophes is a rarer offense, and has done little to ameliorate the impending apostrophe shortage.

It is time for grassroots action. The media has become a major offender; feminists insist we address the issue of missed periods first; politicians would like us to go on believing that possessives and plurals are interchangeable. That is the kind of thinking that leads to empire building, unfettered greed (note the absence of any apostrophe in the first-person genitives "my" and "mine"), and reckless consumption of resources such as the apostrophe. But we cannot assume that there are stores of undiscovered apostrophes in distant lands, there for our taking. We must remember that the English language does not hold sole dominion over this mark. Without sufficient apostrophes, the future of communication itself is bleak.

I urge you to be aware of how you use apostrophes, and talk to your friends about their consumption. Form apostrophe rescue societies, educate your community, and give misused apostrophes a second chance.

Coming soon - Homophones: It's Not Just About Gender