June 30, 2004

Oh, Oprah.

I was in WalMart the other day, searching for a book. I know, it's strange to go to such a store for a book, but the previous week I purchased a book at our town's bookstore, which is rather tiny. I'm trying to think of dimensions, but I've been in bigger living rooms. Anyway, they reccommended a book there; I bought it and read it already. Ergo, I was at WalMart, the only other place to shop.

I picked up a Janet Evanovich book, and I think that I'm on number nine. However, upon reading the back of number seven, I couldn't remember if I read it or not. And then I thought for a second, and really couldn't remember the plots of any of them, really, except for maybe the first two (remembering big scary boxing guy, rouge cop, and then a funeral home burning down. I think that was all in the first and second installments). Anyway, I thought to myself, Gee, it's bad news if I can't remember plots of books. Sad. Then I thought: Even sadder, I'd read this book in under four hours. Six WalMart dollars for four hours. Four hours = 1.5 days of reading.

Ergo, I bought Anna Karenina.

I've seen the movie. Two movies, to be exact. All starring Greta Garbo. I don't know why, but it was during my addiction to Turner Classic Movies.

I've been trying to stay away from Oprah books since the Fall on Your Knees incident. That was the single worst book I've ever read. I'm just not big on incest, prostitution, suicide and religious fanaticism. But, at least it took me a few days to finish.

It's day two of Anna, and I'm starting book three. Wish me continued success.

Posted by Julie Young at 11:44 PM | Comments (3)

June 22, 2004

Tahini, Tahina, let's call the whole thing off...

Oh, you've got to love the Allegheny National Forest, and all its little surprises.

It all started with my love of hummus (hummos?). Naturally, I can get either Tribe brand (eh) or Prince Omar brand (yuck) in the lovely supermarkets of Sparkle City. However, neither are hitting the spot, especially after experiencing the My Organic Market goodness of Heba's Cilantro with Extra Garlic Hummos. Drat them all.

So, I want to make my own. Hummus(os) is simple, you see, it's just chick peas (aka garbanzo beans), olive oil, lemon juice and tahini.

There's the rub.

Tahini paste. If I can't get tasty hummus(os) in Sparkle City, where do I think I'll find tahini?

Ever adventurous, we set out for the next county -- the big town of DuBois to be exact, home to an anemic mall and the smallest Old Navy known to man. Luckily, they have a Martin's, which is really a Giant, but not a Giant Eagle. Don't get them confused. Anyway, Martin's is big, more upscale, and not quite the size of a good old suburban grocery wonder store -- you know, the stores that have their own special organic section, lots of fine cheeses (even Gruyere, which one cannot find up here). Ah. But I go on too much.

I was at Martin's. And I nearly found it. They had two (2) cans of Tahina Sauce. Buzz. Not the same thing. I need the paste -- the sesame seed version of peanut butter, not the runny saucy substance offered in the canned Kosher section.

Foiled again, and not really into purchasing ground up sesames online.

Posted by Julie Young at 11:55 PM | Comments (3)

The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation

What is a "Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation?" It's the subtitle to Eats, Shoots & Leaves, but its kind of vague -- maybe "The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation Errors" is more appropriate.

I have great feeling for Lynne Truss' punctuation book, Eats, Shoots & Leaves -- it's pretty much a love-hate relationship, I think. It took me a long time actually finish reading it because it didn't really grab me or interest me much. The "scandal" surrounding it does, though.

I liked this book, because, like this Slate commentator, I already knew the rules, and really only learned about how the English apply said rules along with a few grammar history fun-facts. I'm human, so I know that I often get carried away with commas and that I forget to remove the pesky apostrophe in the "it's" when making a possessive, but nonetheless, I'm a fairly intelligent writer/editor.

However, I thought that the New Yorker column about the book was a bit over the top. Yes, there are tons of puncutation errors in all sorts of books. I opened a paperback the other day only to learn that Jennifer Crusie had written Crazy for Your -- err, I'm sure in following editions it will be appropriately titled Crazy for You. Things like that happen because some times you don't catch everything. Granted, it is sad that a book about punctuation contains errors, but Truss never claimed that her book was error-free either -- it's just like every other error-riddled book. Maybe one could place more blame on the publisher's minions. Anyway, Truss' so-called punctuation sticklers united, and ripped on her in the article.

Of course, no big surprise, as she used the New Yorker as a frequent example of over-wrought comma usage in her book anyway. So, it's revenge, really.

However, in the name of fairness, I too could pick on the New Yorker and their assertion about the Oxford comma:

The book also omits the serial comma, as in “eats, shoots and leaves,” which is acceptable in the United States only in newspapers and commercial magazines.
I and a fellow language lover researched the serial comma, and never was the word "only" used. In fact, the rule on the Oxford comma appears to be: "well, whatever you like, unless your editor mandates something." So there, New Yorker.

Now, I expect that they'll pick apart my personal inconsistency in the application of the Oxford comma in their next issue. But, I did like what the article said about voice.

Anyway, I also read an Economist review of the book, which seemed to be more in the spirit of what Truss may have really meant.

Punctuation, says Lynne Truss, is the track along which language runs. When it breaks down, so does meaning. She illustrates her point with countless cheerful examples. Where, for instance, would extra-marital sex be without its hyphen? In a completely different moral sphere.

The book is less instruction manual than celebration. “You know those self-help books that give you permission to love yourself? This one gives you permission to love punctuation.” Not the exclamation mark, however, which smacks of laughing at one's own joke.

But I digress. I found the book to be a little too English governess (if I knew what one was like) and I was severely annoyed by the way she belittled people like green grocers who misplaced their apostrophes in the name of ESL learners everywhere. However, I was perturbed right along with her about the movie title Two Weeks Notice, and I liked the way she used the last chapter to address the sillyness of emoticons, even though I like to use them. :)

So, when it comes right down to it, it was a good book about punctuation -- not a style guide, but more of a memoir (a memoir? a retrospective?) of punctuation's journey through time by one of its admirers.

See previous Truss Discussions:

  • The Jerz Entry that spawned this diatribe
  • My early responses

    Posted by Julie Young at 08:37 PM | Comments (6)
  • June 18, 2004

    Bravo!

    It all started with watching the occasional episode of Queer Eye....then, I noticed that they replayed the West Wing four or five times a day (and it's the Aaron Sorkin episodes -- as far as I'm concerned his last episode marked the end of it).

    Then I became addicted to Texas Hold-Em. Celebrity Poker Showdown -- I find myself captivated. And last night's was one of the more interesting ones with Lauren Graham winning big... Anyway, I'm sure I'm world's worst poker player, but I can't help to laugh when people go in with hands that contain a 7 and a 2.

    Worse yet, I keep watching Jefferson in Paris, a horrible movie that Bravo continues to show. It stars Nick Nolte and Gwyneth Paltrow, and it's a big yawn. That, and my recent visit to lovely Monticello, convices me that Jefferson was indeed a freakshow....my least favorite founding father.....a big perverted weirdo, even with his notable letter-copying inventions. However, I like the scenes in Versailles, which I think is why I keep watching it. That, and to figure out what is going on with Maria Cosway and Jefferson.

    So, I need to stop watching TV.

    Posted by Julie Young at 05:55 PM | Comments (2)

    June 15, 2004

    Missing cable? So am I.

    Every time there is a major storm up on top of the mountain peak that I call home, we lose cable. And, if it's like tonight, we lose cell phone reception. So, how do I spend my time?

    Why, on the Internet of course, making tons of lists! (Note: these lists are not terribly amusing, but rather, kind of sad.)

      What I'm missing on TV.
    • Watching someone chop vegetables in Japanese.
    • A real list made up by David Letterman
    • Flipping between CNN and Fox News, attempting to figure out who's the biased one.
    • The possiblity of catching Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood or Inside Edition to get the real scoop on J-Lo's wedding.
    • Berkinstocks on QVC (not quite sure why I watch...)
    • Etc.
      What I'm doing instead.
    • Talking on the phone, until the reception went.
    • Attempting to figure out my last two blanks on the TV Guide Crossword puzzle: a four-letter word for Hungarian Sheepdog and a six-letter word for More Slender (Help!)
    • Dispatching emails across the country.
    • Talking on IM.
    • Thinking about reading The Lovely Bones.
    • Thinking about reading Sick Puppy.
    • Thinking about having a snack, but I only really have roasted red pepper hummos (hummus? Depends on the container, evidently), which isn't as tasty as it ought to be. My favorite hummos is made by some company named "Heba's" and is flavored cilantro with extra garlic. Yum yum.
    • Clearly, filling the blog that has scrolled off into nothingness.

    Yeah, that's it. Time for bed.

    Posted by Julie Young at 12:10 AM | Comments (12)