March 2008 Archives

Oxford wonderings while colon and semicolon freeze in the cold!

| 2 Comments

"Well, start waving and yelling, because it is the so-called Oxford comma (also known as the serial comma) and it is a lot more dangerous than its exclusive, ivory-tower moniker might suggest. There are people who embrace the Oxford comma and people who don't, and I'll just say this: never get between these people when drink has been taken." (Truss, 84)


Finally! I have found an answer! Well, at least a part of one anyway. I, myself am a fan of the Oxford comma (despite the fact that I'd never heard it referred to in such a manner before) and I always wondered why some people failed to add a comma between the last "and" in a list and the item mentioned before it. What truly confused me, was the fact that those who omitted this little bugger were never told wrong for their actions. I used to pull my hair out over this unfortunate, mystifying occurrence, but now all has been laid to rest. I need not worry anymore. In fact, I now have a correct name for the item that I was so worried over. Perhaps we should hold elections over the internet or some such in order to determine exactly which comma to use: the Oxford comma or its close-knit relative? No, better not. Look what's happened with the last few elections!

"But sadly, anyone lazily looking for an excuse not to master the colon and semicolon can always locate a respectable reason, because so many are advanced. Here are some of the most common:
  1. They are old-fashioned
  2. They are middle-class
  3. They are optional
  4. They are mysteriously connected to pausing
  5. They are dangerously addictive (vide Virginia Woolf)
  6. The difference between them is too negligible to be grasped by the brain of man" (Truss, 109-110)


I must admit, that I have my own fear of colons and semicolons. When should I use them? When are they grammatically incorrect? Then to top it all off, I start wondering if I'm using too many of the little suckers! It's quite true, they are addicting! However, when I was reading this list, I was surprised to note that some individuals thought them middle-class; are we referring to the fact that wealthier punctuation marks think themselves better than others? I was surprised though at the fact that the colon and semicolon were so old. Then again, to today's society it seems as if anything older than ten years is obsolete, unnecessary, and certainly not needed. (Oxford comma!) In the end, I suppose it's up to each and every single person as to whether or not they'd prefer to use a colon, a semicolon, or simply use a mundane (though greatly important) period. And ya know what? That's probably one of the few creative options that you may actually have when writing with subsequent punctuation!


Ohhhh no. Here comes the Oxford boys! Best not let 'em get too near the other young fellers and have 'em be startin' a brawl now ya hear? POW!

Hear bell. Run to master. Drool uncontrollably.

| No Comments

“To those who care about punctuation, a sentence such as “Thank God its Friday” (without the apostrophe) rouses feelings not only of despair but of violence. The confusion of the possessive “its” (no apostrophe) is an unequivocal signal of illiteracy and sets off a simple Pavlonian “kill” response in the average stickler.” (Truss, 43)


I must admit, I have the above Pavlonian response whenever I read a literary item. I’ll be perusing a text of some sort, stop at a usage of “its,” and wonder exactly what it is the world’s coming to. I’v made it a practice to conciously think about every “its” and “it’s” that I may use in any of my works. (This goes double for graded papers.) That being typed...I have indeed made a mistake or two when utilizing this particular form of punctuation. However, with that in mind, I have sought to better myself and to fix this problem. It’s not like it can’t be done. We simply have to put our minds to it. Though I must end this blog with a dare, I believe. I dare you to think about how many times a day in which you use the word “its” or “it’s.” Anyone surprised?

And the young man turned to the little boy and said, “I’ve one-upped ya kid. I see dead people and dead PUNCTUATION.”

“We are like the little boy in The Sixth Sense who can see dead people, except that we can see dead punctuation.” (Truss, 3)


When I read this sentence, and those that immediately followed after, I couldn’t help but relate. I know that I, myself am wont to notice incorrect punctuation and subsequently point it out to others. What to I hear most often in response? Well, it’s more often a look that borders between “Are you serious?!” and “Whatever.” I know I’m not the only one out there who has experienced this all-encompassing phenomenon, and it seems that only English majors feel the need to hone their unique seventh sense in order to better communicate. I’ve passed road signs and had a nasty little smirk cross my face when I read the grammatic errors. I’ve even pointed them out to people in the car while I’m driving, asking “Did you see that? It should have said such and such. They must have run out of space not only on the board, but between their heads as well!” So what can be done in the face of such adversity may you ask? Well, keep on telling others how to fix their grammatical mistakes and maybe one day (hopefully sooner rather than later) they’ll actually catch on.

Stand frim my little computerized minions! I’ll push this button and we’ll win the battle! ...OOPS.

What a way to go...

| 1 Comment
"Not many people remembered to come out to the country to see her except the old priest. He came regularly once a week with a bag of breadcrumbs and, after he had fed these to the peacock, he would come in and sit by the side of her bed and explain the doctrines of the Church." (O'Connor, 252)

Wow. When I read these lines in the closing paragraph of "A Displaced Person," I couldn't help but hope that my own future days never end in such a like manner. Not only did Mrs. McIntyre only listen to the priest in order to gain cheap labor years ago, but now she has to listen to him drone on about the same old subject day after day. What's worse is that she can't even speak back to him since her voice failed not long after she first took ill. However, think about the breadcrumbs that the priest brings: when I read this I immediately thought of the Hanzel and Gretal fairy tale where the children left a trail of breadcrumbs to find their way home. In the end thought, the crumbs were eaten by birds, just like the peacock. It also seemed kinda strange to me that the peacock would still be on the farm when all of the livestock had been sold off. Maybe no one wants an ornery old bird, or maybe the peacock represents the brilliantly colored past of the farm.


Attention Wal-Mart customers. We are currently having a special on our black-hole traveling spheres. If you'd just put your feet on the glowing pad, we'll begin. Just relax while your particle realign and POW!

Voice: "the narrator of a literary work, of FICTION of POETRY, is the one who tells the story." (Hamilton, pg. 112)

Foil: "a character who contrasts with the PROTAGONIST in ways that bring out certain of his or her moral, emotional, or intellectual qualities."


When reading the passage pertaining to Voice, I was pleasantly surprised to read that the narrator of a literary work is always different from the author in some way, shape, or form because the narrator is partly made-up by said author. Even if the author is telling about a specific point in their life, the narrator differs from the author now because the author has had experiences since the point in time that the narrator exists in. "That voice may be implied by various aspects of the NARRATION,..., which emerge in the telling and which may be discerned by the attentive reader." (Hamilton, pg. 113) Anyone ever wonder why I sometimes write funny? It's 'cause I don't know how to spell the wurds, it's jus' 'cause it makes the attentive reader pay 'tention to what I'm writin'. That, an' I find it pretty funny too! We form judgments about characters by how they sound in our heads. Nothin' like accents an' whatnot to bring that inta focus, eh?

Now for the next bit, and I'm not writing about aluminum foil here! Our good man, The Bard, Shakespeare, is probably the most notable author who created foils for his main characters to be measured up against. I find foils useful in the fact that they allow the reader to gain important insight into the protagonist. Without the foil, it would be much harder (not to mention time-consuming) to make the reader see the complexities lying deep within a character. We all need them, you might say that your enemies (or the people that you dislike) can easily display your negative qualities, while your friends bring about your good qualities. Think on it long enough and you'll realize that the mirror is not a foil, only a reflection; only other people will truly provide a surface from which we and others can judge us.


Alright, who wants to COLOR!

Voice: "the narrator of a literary work, of FICTION of POETRY, is the one who tells the story." (Hamilton, pg. 112)

Foil: "a character who contrasts with the PROTAGONIST in ways that bring out certain of his or her moral, emotional, or intellectual qualities."


When reading the passage pertaining to Voice, I was pleasantly surprised to read that the narrator of a literary work is always different from the author in some way, shape, or form because the narrator is partly made-up by said author. Even if the author is telling about a specific point in their life, the narrator differs from the author now because the author has had experiences since the point in time that the narrator exists in. "That voice may be implied by various aspects of the NARRATION,..., which emerge in the telling and which may be discerned by the attentive reader." (Hamilton, pg. 113) Anyone ever wonder why I sometimes write funny? It's 'cause I don't know how to spell the wurds, it's jus' 'cause it makes the attentive reader pay 'tention to what I'm writin'. That, an' I find it pretty funny too! We form judgments about characters by how they sound in our heads. Nothin' like accents an' whatnot to bring that inta focus, eh?

Now for the next bit, and I'm not writing about aluminum foil here! Our good man, The Bard, Shakespeare, is probably the most notable author who created foils for his main characters to be measured up against. I find foils useful in the fact that they allow the reader to gain important insight into the protagonist. Without the foil, it would be much harder (not to mention time-consuming) to make the reader see the complexities lying deep within a character. We all need them, you might say that your enemies (or the people that you dislike) can easily display your negative qualities, while your friends bring about your good qualities. Think on it long enough and you'll realize that the mirror is not a foil, only a reflection; only other people will truly provide a surface from which we and others can judge us.


Alright, who wants to COLOR!

"Her voice when she spoke hand an almost pleading sound. 'Aren't you,' she murmured, 'aren't you just good country people?'...'Yeah,' he said, curling his lip slightly, 'but it ain't held me back none. I'm as good as you any day in the week.'" (O'Connor, GCP, pg. 193)


This seems to be a recurring theme: Good versus Evil, or some representation of the two. Hulga/Joy is presented in a greatly unflattering manner while the young man, Manley Pointer, is seen in the light as an honest (albeit poor) salesman. However, not everything is as it seems, one constant that can be seen throughout several of O'Connor's works. It's obvious from the line above that Pointer's conscience isn't a very strong one nor does he feel overly remorseful in any way for the items that he's stolen from women.

Hulga/Joy goes on to shout at Pointer that he's a fine Christian when she herself professed as an atheist and himself a devout Bible salesman. I mean, if you're out there selling Bibles, it'd be a good bet that you at least have a greater faith than some others, right? However, Pointer replies, "I hope you don't think,' he said in a lofty indignant tone, 'that I believe in that crap! I may sell Bibles but I know which end is up and I wasn't born yesterday and I know where I'm going!" (pg. 193) So basically, he knows right from wrong...he merely chooses to do the wrong. Well, at least someone knows exactly what they want; seems as if Hulga/Joy doesn't know what she really believes despite her spouting of philosophy.


Anyone up for a jump out the barn? Just a simple press and you'll land in a bale a hay...GO!

“But on another level it also suggests Christ’s rebuke to Peter when Peter tried to call him good, and Jesus responded that no one should be called good (Mark 10:18)--a mistake that the Grandmother makes repeatedly in her encounter with the Misfit. At the same time, it is also true to say that, excepting Satan, no one should be called totally evil, certainly not in any absolute sense. Good and Evil, as potentialities and as actualities, are inextricably inter-twined in human beings, and this is true for bothe the Grandmother and the Misfit.” (Desmond, Essay on O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find”)


Everyone has a mixture of good and evil within them. Often times, people of high ideals try to look at the world through eyes with only black and white vision. By doing this, they mix the intricate range of gray that flows everywhere and through everyone. Debating the fact of whether one is good or evil is one of those moral questions that ethics teachers no doubt like to ask you, perhaps more accurately law professors and lawyers in the courtroom. I, myself like to ponder questions that often seem to have no definitive answers (at least until I start to get a headache).

However, after ruminating over this conundrum, one starts to think about the criminals that are so often condemned as evil. What does the above quote have to say to the murderers, the rapists, the child molesters, etc., etc.? Well...that’s just it. It’s ultimately up to each and every individual person as to what constitutes good and evil, and where the final blurry line between the two ends.

There is no sorting hat to choose for you, you've got to step forward under your own power. Now choose: Good or Evil? (Don't worry. You'll eventually end up at the same place!)

"Do you know what great birthday this is?" he asked." (O'Connor pg. 69)


This is gonna be the birthday to end all birthdays folks! Not only is Ruby the soon-to-be unhappy mother of a bouncing baby, but today's the birthday (or death most likely) of her former lifestyle. Kids do that ya know. All her life Ruby's never wanted to become like here mother, so beaten down by the birth and/or loss of her children that she seemed to have died on the inside a bit. I've heard it said that with every birth there comes a death, even if it may be small. Well, Ruby's certainly going to get a crash course in motherhood, especially if she keeps on denying the obvious. That's why it seems all the more ironic when Mr. Jerger asks Ruby what great birthday it is, because for here, it's really a great deathday. I know, morbid much. At least its better than Ruby having heart trouble or another terrible illness, though knowing Ruby, she'd probably rather have the illness as opposed to the kid. However, perhaps Ruby's experiences with Hartley will spur her into raising her own child in a better manner than Hartley's parents obviously did.


Now, if you'd kindly step up to the ledge, yes, that one. you just hold still 'till I push you over the edge of that there bottomless pit. Understand? Good! Click HERE to fall into never ending darkness.

Your major's yours, but your major's not you. Get it?

| 3 Comments
"Regardless of your major, however, remember: Your major is not you. Nor is your future determined or limited by your major. If it were, every politician would have majored in political science." (Lemire, pg. 183)


There have been quite a few questions that this book has helped to clear up, mainly involving exactly how an english major can survive out in the real world. The sentences above though, really spoke to me. In high school, several of my peers thought that if you went to college in search of a degree in english, that you were going to teach it. As for the rest, they mostly asked, "English? What're ya gonna do with that?!" Well, at least an accomplished author (Lemire) believes that various english majors can succeed in the world. Not only that, but we are not owned or eclipsed by our majors. We choose to step on the paths that lead to teachers, journalists, professional writers, or any of the other multitude of jobs available to english majors. It's simply sad that others can't see the same choices for us. In today's world of nine to five jobs, a family, a house with a two door garage, and two cars to fit in the garage, people can't help but wonder how a would-be writer can support themselves in addition to the perfect society family in the future.

I personally found it gratifying that an accomplished english major was willing to give so much advise to those just walking onto the playing field. "At certain points in your life - and not just when you're fresh out of college - you may have to look for work outside your field, outside your comfort zone, and outside your expectations of yourself. And guess what: You might find what you're looking for, out there." (Lemire, pg. 183) So here it is, it's gonna be scary steppin' out into the dog-eat-dog world, but when we do, we might just find something that we never realized that we were lookin' for.

Lookie here kiddies! Watch the birdie. That's good...stay right there and click. No worries, nothin' bad's gonna happen...not yet. Now CLICK!

By God's grace, THAT'S IT!!!

| 2 Comments

"Epiphany: a sudden, overwhelming insight or revelation evoked by a commonplace object or a scene in a poem or a work of fiction." (Hamilton, pg. 102)

Ya know, if you go searching for an example of an epiphany on the internet, you're going to come up with a lot of people asking questions...mainly for an example of said epiphany. So what exactly is an epiphany, or an example of one at least? Well, everyone's had one at some point. You may just not remember it. It's that exact moment when you've almost given up on understanding something, when out of the blue, it seems to click in your mind. That's usually when you start saying, "By jove, I think I've got it!" Or something like that anyways. They're especially useful in literary texts, particularly when the author has chosen to not reveal their entire point. If they did, well, what point would there be in reading the text at all? We all want to have something click in our minds and go "Ah Ha!" over an occurrence, no matter how small.


*Click* Now you know what to do with this: BUTTON.

It's MINE! Ya Hear?! It's ALL MINE!!

| 3 Comments
“It’s the clothes that I relate to, though, not the customers. And now a funny thing happens to me here on my new shift: I start thinking they’re mine, not mine to take home and wear, because I have no such designs on them, just mine to organize and rule over.” (Nickel and Dimed, pg. 166)

When I read this quote, I couldn't help but smile at the familiar feeling of possessiveness. I worked as a kitchen aid in a girl scout camp last summer, and I can definitely relate to Ehrenreich's mindset about patrolling her area with a shopping cart and making sure that everything was in order. If anyone were to enter that space, blessings be upon them 'cause they're gonna need 'em! That kitchen was my domain and if any one of those kids, or counselors even, decided that they wanted to go over the counter for the food, they were going to be snapped at post haste! It sometimes got ugly, but then again, no one wanted to tick off the head cook, so we kitchen staff merely drew an imaginary line across the floor and God help ya if ya crossed it. (It tended to be worse it we'd just scrubbed and mopped the floor and someone would then walk all over it, but that's another story.)

However, after reading this section of the book, I can definitively say and write that I will never look at a Wal-mart "associate" the same way as before. I mean, you've gotta give 'em props just for staying there if the working environment's anything like in the book. Barring that, they've got to put up with all of us pesky customers to boot! Treat them respectively as is best else they might have to clean ya up in aisle 6 somewhere down the line.


Attention shoppers! Attention all Wal-Mart shoppers! Food spill aisle 6. Bill's on it, but ya should take the detour HERE.

"I mumble thanks for the advice, feeling like I've just been stripped naked by the crazed enforcer of some ancient sumptuary law: No chatting for you, girl." (pg. 35, Nickel and Dimed)


At some point or another, most everyone's walked into a restaurant, sat down, and looked up at a harried waiter/waitress who looks as if they're barely standing on the feet, even with the 15 cups of coffee that they've probably already had. They take your order and go haring off to the kitchen with it and then proceed to flit from designated table to designated table. Manners are a nice essential to life, but not always beneficial or helpful in a life where time is money (or food). People want to be fed and its almost always immediately. Barbara Ehrenreich most likely never noticed the enormous strain that servers are put under in order to do their job and be quick about it. Being nice is great, but in this world at least, it seems to hinder the necessary work pace. Then again, Ehrenreich was quite bowled over by the pace as well. Perhaps no one can truly realize the responsibilities of a particular vocation until one has experienced it for themselves?


Do you want a baked potato or the vegetable platter with your mystery meat? Press BUTTON to confirm and return to home page.

When's it best to do what and...Sweden's NOT neutral?!

| 1 Comment

Ch. 3: "What's the best time to attend graduate school? There is no best time, just as ther's not a best time to get married or to have children or to buy a home." (pg. 49, Lemire)

Ch. 6: "Seldom do you encounter an individual who considers differences in taste to be morally neutral, and simply something to be tolerated because nothing can be done about it." (pg. 119, Lemire)


Everyone wants the answers to all of their questions. All too often, people want someone else to tell them what to do, give them advice, or walk them gently through hard decisions. So naturally, people will want to know exactly when its the right time to surge on towards graduate school or even when to go back. No one holds all the answers (or if they do, they're not telling). Everything depends on the individual and Lemire aptly demonstrates this concept. Although, I've heard that quite a few monster-in-laws will having something to say about the married thing.

The second quote above gets to the heart of the matter. Tolerance and understanding needs to be present in some form in order to understand others and the manner in which they work. As English majors, most all of us have encountered those individuals who either say that they can't read, that they dislike to read, or well and truly can't read in order to save their lives. Not everyone likes to read the same thing, as evidenced by the many genres of literature. Everyone's got their own unique take on things and that is the way of it all.


Alright kiddies, time to step onto the nice, giant elephant. I swear he won't eat you. Hopefully.