29 February, 2008

Leapfrog Day

Well, the proverbial (but not actually proverbial) Leap Day is upon us! Happy February the 29th, my dear readers! As always, Leap Day is a day to contemplate our inadequacies and failings. I’ve got six loathing sessions planned for the day, and I hate myself because that’s two less than last year. But in all seriousness, this date is one that lives in infamy in my heart. It is a painful expression of how… Actually, if I’m going to do this right, let’s set some things straight first:

Television has led me to believe that my life is quite lacking in many ways, not the least of which is that I was born without a twin. Just think of all the crazy shenanigans I could get myself into. I could accidentally ask two girls our on the same night! Oh, how hilarity would ensue! Or what if a new teacher came to my school and my twin and I pulled some crazy prank on her or him, leading them to believe they’d entered some alternate plane of existence. Wow, that’d be a hog-whoopin’ good time.


The perfect twins


This is why The 29th of February is such a disappointment to me. I’ve always thought about how much fun it would be to have my birthday on Leap Day, and then how that fun would be exponentially greater if I had a twin whose birthday was either the 28th or 1st. Unfortunately, I was denied this great joy. “It’s Wilson’s sixteenth birthday, but it’s only my fourth.” Wow, I’m almost having convulsions the idea is so funny.

But then again, what if my twin were evil? One must consider these things. What if I were the evil twin? For matters involving evil twins, I will defer to Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields, who knows enough to write a song about it:


I wish I had an evil twin
running ’round doing people in
I wish I had a very bad
and evil twin to do my will
to cull and conquer, cut and kill
just like I would
if I weren’t good
and if I knew where to begin

down and down we go
how low no one would know
sometimes the good life wears thin
I wish I had an evil twin

my evil twin would lie and steal
and he would stink of sex appeal
all men would writhe
beneath his scythe
he’d send the pretty ones to me
and they would think that I was he
I’d hurt them and I’d go scot free

I’d get no blame and feel no shame
’cause evil’s not my cup of tea

down and down we go
how low one would not need to know
all my life there should have been
an evil twin


Merritt certainly blurs the lines between the good and the bad twin. Who am I (besides Jean Valjean, of course)? Maybe the whole twin business is a bit more difficult than I had ever before imagined. Thanks for the song, Merritt.

I take back my complaints – the last thing I need is another person to measure myself against. Okay, Leap Day, here I come!

28 February, 2008

Who Put the Bomp in the “Bomp, Bomp, Bomp?"

I like sounds. This may be the least shocking admission I have ever made, and yet I stick by it all the same! Silence is a fine thing, don’t get me wrong here, but sounds have a certain quality to them that make me want to stomp my feet and whistle with my lips.

Yes, dear reader, today we are examining onomatopoeias, or words that imitate the sound associated with the thing or action in question.

Aside from being an amazing sounding word – which I believe is onomatopoetic itself – onomatopoeias are large parts of our lives. Had circa 1960 Batman been without these little dandy words, he never could have fought the villains plaguing Gotham City.


Pow!


However, we are not all masked crime fighters, so how can we as common-folk take advantage of the onomatopoeias? Let’s pretend that you are in some way interested in living an onomatopoetic life and that you haven’t noticed how much I like typing our buzz word for the day.

The best way to take advantage of onomatopoeias in everyday life is to narrate your every action. I know this may sound a little crazy, but you’ll be surprised at how frequently these little guys come up. Allow for me to demonstrate:

Eric typed away on the keys of his computer, ignoring the hum of the white noise in his cubicle. A small insect buzzed by his ear, but he swatted it away. The clock overhead ticked and tocked, but Eric hardly noticed it because of the cars revving their engines as they drove by. A whoosh or air ran through the office as Eric’s boss slammed the door. It was time to look diligent and concerned despite the convoluted apostrophes flying through the air.

I hope this has clarified things.

And thus I end this language series with a smashing end!

27 February, 2008

This is a Bad Article…

The following statement is false.

The previous statement is true.

If your eyes haven’t melted yet, this is a little something we call a paradox – and I’m not referring to a pair of physicians. A paradox is a statement, proposition, or situation that seems to be absurd or contradictory, but in fact is or may be true!

Granted, some paradoxes will just get us into trouble. If we say: “There is no truth!” it is very difficult to say it with any conviction, as if that statement is true there is truth, and thus the statement is wrong – and as Winnie the Pooh says: “Oh bother.”

No, this little gem of language is not for my cretin ramblings, but rather is reserved for my dear friend, Søren Kierkegaard.

For my dear readers whom are not yet acquainted with Mr. Kierkegaard, he was a most disagreeable Dane in the mid-nineteenth century who felt it his duty to irk just about every religious official in Denmark. Naturally I am quite drawn to him.


The Kierk in fine form


“Now wait here, Eric,” you have remained quiet for quite an agreeable amount of time, “we’ve been quiet for a while now – don’t do that! Anyways, why should we care about this Kierkegaard bloke? What does he have to do with paradoxes? Why are you making so many poor jokes?”

All good questions, my dear reader, most of which I will positively ignore. As for Kierkegaard, he was a philosopher of sorts; however, as all good existentialists do, he did not see himself as philosophy’s golden boy. Kierkegaard went about saying a great variety of things the Greeks would be aghast by! He claimed that an individual needed to step outside the universal (moral) for the sake of faith – thus (as you may have guessed) making faith a paradox! Egads! Dear reader, do you see how big this is?

“Not really caring. Nice try though.”

Dear reader, I can see that paradox is not very conducive for blogging... particularly after a long day. Thus, my final entry of this series shall be a whoop-pow good time.

I suppose my only consolation is that you find my bad writing good, thus making this a good article! If that’s not paradoxical, I am my own grandpa!

25 February, 2008

The Continuing Adventures of the Hyperbolic Boy

Hyperbole will kill me one day! But that may be an exaggeration.

Yes, dear reader, today’s installment focuses around the fair art of overstatement! Hyperbole is a deliberate and obvious exaggeration used for effect – and we all know how affected I am.

I have often pictured myself as a daring superhero that darts about the streets while donning a cape and form-fitting spandex, of course, and fights the most nefarious villains ever to grace (?) the face of the earth! During the day I would play the role of mild-mannered Eric, but at night I would become The Hyperbolic Boy, the greatest superhero of all time!

Granted, the Hyperbolic Boy would not be like just any superhero – no, he would go around saving the world by giving everyone a taste of overstated joy! He would not battle against Magneto’s or Lex’s, but rather against monotony and literalism! It is not fascism or communism, but rationalism that is the greatest foe of the Hyperbolic Boy! No one dares fight against him because he’ll just throw an infinite amount of absolute statements in his foes’ faces until they die!

Wow, I’m pretty much the smartest guy ever for coming up with the most-clever superhero of all time. Besides, if that doesn't work out for me, I could be the most evil - and stylish - communist in world history. And that’s no exaggeration!

23 February, 2008

Homonomonibus

Have you ever seen the original Superman movie? You know the part where a gang of evil Kryptonians is imprisoned in the Phantom Zone by sentence of the council and Jor-El, Kal-El’s (Superman’s) father? My February has been very similar to that.


In spite of that banishment, my dear reader, here is a long-belated entry that will signal another series of posts; however, this time we will not traverse space and time like we did last time. No – here we begin a journey across the English language!

“So let me get this right,” you’ll have had a long time to think about this in my absence, “you’re going to bore us into forgetting your negligence?”

Anything but, dear reader! What I am about to present to you is one of the most time consuming cognitive hobbies one can have: homonyms.

A homonym is a set of words that are spelled or pronounced in the same way as another but have different meanings! What fun!

During the madness that was this last summer at Mount Hermon, I began playing little games to keep my mind sharp and my co-workers on their toes. Of the least benign of these games, homonyms were at the center. I do not know if it was Wink (Emily) or Mr. Roboto (me – as an aside, do you think “Pumpernickel” would be a good camp name?) who began collecting these words first, but it became a great joy to us both. We did not collect words that are spelt the same, but rather only shared similar pronunciations.

What fun to make up sentences like: “I need an eye but you’ll see I was kneed in my butt by the sea on Yule day” or “Where is he who swayed the Heroin Heroine to wear suede?” or “We praise him when he prays while he does not know how to knot two shoes, so he shoos in the inn while I sew eye patches.” The nonsense is almost limitless!

Ask me for a more complete list of homonyms if you like, dear reader, and prepare yourselves for more exciting adventures in the near future as I, like a literary Steve Zissou, document the marvels of our fair language!


I just needed a way of inserting this picture