Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Victory Lap!!!

Well, we made it! I didn't know, at the beginning of the month, if I'd be typing up my 30th post in as many days today, but it worked! Thanks to all of you who have stuck around during this undertaking.

I've realized that blogging more frequently is a lot of fun, and completely doable as long as I make time for it specifically. That being said, I've also realized that I don't necessarily have enough to say to keep blogging every day. Looking back at the last 30 days, I've done:

*A whole lot of cop-out posts, usually about how tired I am because of something the Little Guy has been up to. Don't get me wrong; I would much rather be tired and boring and have the Little Guy around than be energetic and witty and still childless. But as I have said before, being a good mommy sometimes means I have to be a bad (or at least uninteresting) blogger.

*A few posts about musicals you may not have heard of but should totally check out.

*A book review.

*A series about word nerd-age.

*Much linkage.

*A moderately successful De-Lurk Day (if you never did de-lurk, or if you thought you weren't included because you don't technically lurk, you are still more than welcome to comment now!).

*Maybe one or two actually interesting posts about random stuff from my brain.

Not too shabby, I suppose, but it also has lots of room for improvement, substance-wise. I'm thinking of some changes and organization for the blog which I hope to implement in the coming month. But I reserve the right to occasionally pop in with nothing more than a note saying I'm still a mommy, and I'm still alive. But I guess if you've made it this far with me, you'll probably understand that. And, as always, if you have any suggestions and/or requests for blog post topics, please let me know and I will do my best to oblige.

Thanks to all of you for reading, and for making me feel like there were people I shouldn't disappoint, which kept me posting here this month. I love knowing that people read this random stuff I write, and that some of you even enjoy it.

So I guess I'll see you in December!

My Amazon PayPhrase today was "Elliespen's Unstable Essays." I'm not sure what to think about that.

And, in case you didn't notice before, yes, this is DAY 30! Mission accomplished!

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Many Faces of Eileen

Earlier this month, I talked about She Loves Me, a musical based on a play that has been re-adapted many times, most of which I love.

Today's featured musical has a similar adaptation record. It was originally a set of short stories, then a book, then a play, and then a 1942 movie starring Rosalind Russell, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.

Rosalind Russell was so amazing in the role of aspiring writer Ruth Sherwood, who is overshadowed by her beautiful sister Eileen (an aspiring actress), that some other amazing people (see: Betty Comden, Adolph Green, and Leonard Bernstein, among others) decided to adapt the play-turned-movie into a Broadway musical called "Wonderful Town," just so Roz could reprise her role. Which she did, although she wasn't much of a singer beforehand. She apparently learned to sing just fine, though, because she won the Tony award for her performance.

The musical was revived in 2003 with Donna Murphy as Ruth, and I adore this particular cast recording. I know there used to be a video on YouTube of Donna Murphy (who was also nominated for a Tony) singing my favorite song from the musical, "One Hundred Easy Ways," but I couldn't find it. So I'll give you this version instead:

Other great songs include "Ohio" (I've not caught up on this season of "Glee" but I hear that this was sung as a duet with Jane Lynch and Carol Burnett), "Conversation Piece" (especially the bit about re-reading Moby Dick), "Conga," "My Darlin' Eileen," and "It's Love."

The great thing about this story, though, is that it's actually a two-for-one musical deal. In 1955 the story was again revisited, this time as a movie musical called "My Sister Eileen," but with different songs than "Wonderful Town" and a slightly tweaked plot. It featured the wonderful Betty Garrett as Ruth, Janet Leigh as Ruth, and Jack Lemmon (who sings!!!), Tommy Rall and Bob Fosse all as suitors for the sisters. Bob Fosse choreographed, which lead to this amazing dance number (dancing starts around 3:00):

I have to say that I like the 1955 version of the story best (Eileen comes off as less flaky, in my opinion, plus who doesn't love Betty Garrett? Plus Jack Lemmon in love is so sweet and adorable), but all of the versions are worth checking out, both movie and soundtrack.

(I think it was also a TV series in the 1960's—you've got to love stories that get so much mileage. Kind of like this 29-day blogging streak I'm on.)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Another cop-out post, but with food!

So I have a great post half-written and a couple of others that I'm working on in my head, but no energy to actually finish any of them. I think it's a combination of a four-day weekend, another does-not-want-to-nap day, and the fact that it snowed for most of the day, which usually puts me in relaxed, hot chocolate, stay inside and do nothing much mode.

I feel okay with all of these things.

I also feel okay with this:

And the fact that I made it for Thanksgiving and again today (what else was I going to do with the leftover pumpkin puree? I mean, really). Check out the recipe here.

And now I think I'll just head to bed. Till tomorrow, then!

Day 28 = four straight weeks of blogging. This has been more intense than I thought it would be.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Really, now.

If Hulu Plus is supposed to be so great, why don't they have all of the episodes for the current season of Psych?

I'm just sayin'.

Day 27 and I miss Shawn Spencer already. . . .

Friday, November 26, 2010

Insert contented sigh here.

How I spent Black Friday:

*Slept in (thanks, Little Guy, for helping out with that).

*Ate leftover pie for breakfast.

*Stayed in my jammies until 11:00 a.m.

*Watched Psych.

*Ate leftover turkey and more pie.


*Took a nap.

*Snuggled with my baby.

*Had a movie night with good friends.

*Did a wee bit of shopping online without having to deal with crowds or the cold.

And that is how Black Friday should be done.

Day 26 down. Nearly done!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving, folks!

Happy Thanksgiving!

We're heading off for a delicious Thanksgiving celebration with family, so I'll just leave you with this family favorite:

The yams did it!

Here's hoping you all enjoy day 25 as much as I plan to!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My favorite holiday.

I love Thanksgiving. It's my favorite holiday. It has all the good food and relatives gathering and crisp weather and good cheer of Christmas, but doesn't involve as much stress or shopping. (I dislike shopping, unless it involves unlimited resources and lots of books.)

KEY, when I told her this, challenged my assertion that Thanksgiving is less stressful than Christmas. I told her that meant she was doing Thanksgiving wrong. (Don't worry; our friendship is awesome enough that we can tell each other things like that and not get upset. Unless it's about James Joyce. . . .)*

The key to Thanksgiving is delegation. It should be like a very, very organized potluck. Everyone has an assignment and everyone brings that item to dinner. If only one person is in charge of all the shopping and cooking for everyone else, of course that's going to be too much stress for them. If you show up to a Thanksgiving dinner that someone else cooked and you haven't contributed to at all, you haven't really joined in the point of the holiday. You might be grateful for their efforts but you haven't made yourself a full part of the communal Thanksgiving experience. Everyone cooks; everyone shares. That's how Thanksgiving should be, at least in my opinion.

One of my favorite aspects of Thanksgiving is Pie. Pie, pie and more pie.

Oh, and pie.

Which I actually need to go make now. So I will leave you with these two awesome pie-related things:

Pushing Daisies. If you haven't seen any episodes of this delightful (and, unfortunately, now-cancelled) TV show, do yourself a favor and introduce yourself to Ned (the Piemaker, who has a special power), Chuck (his alive-again sweetheart), Emerson Cod (a private investigator who knits to calm his nerves), Olive Snook (the waitress who loves Ned unrequitedly), Aunts Lily and Vivian (retired synchronized swimming duo with agoraphobic tendencies and a proclivity for waving around shotguns, at least in Lily's case), and Digby (an alive-again dog). You won't be sorry. As Ned says, "Pie is home. People always come home."

I've always liked this particular Wondermark.

Now go forth, eat pie, be thankful, and take looooong afternoon naps.

*Love you, KEY! Even if I don't love Jimmy like you do. ;)

Day 24 and I'm posting in the middle of the afternoon, yo! How's that for being on top of things!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Something about names and roses and something that smells.

Yeah, I spent a long time trying to think of a good, clever name for this post and all I could come up with was that old overdone Shakespeare quote. So yeah. Whatever. (Today was another no-nap day. That may have something to do with it.)

Following up on yesterday's discussion about words that are tainted by association, I just want to take a moment to talk about names.

Everyone, I'm sure, has had the experience of a name being "ruined."

In elementary school I met a girl named Lizzie. I won't go into details, but the experience was so unpleasant that I've had issues with the name ever since. The only reason I'm still okay with Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice is that when people call her by her nickname, it's spelled "Lizzy."

Another example is that several of the boys' names I liked growing up ended up going on to be the names of boys I dated.* So I could never use them for a child, which made our quest to find a name for the Little Guy that much harder, since most of my favorite names were now off the table. (Also, Shallow Man didn't particularly like most of the others, but that's neither here nor there.)

I'm also pretty sure I could never name a child any variation of Isabella now.

Of course, name associations don't have to be bad. Positive associations with names are what lead to namesakes. Which are pretty awesome. The Little Guy's middle name is actually in honor of one of our dear friends (who was not only Shallow Man's roommate, but also his best man, our wedding photographer, our chauffeur, our bouncer, etc.). My nephew is named after my maternal grandfather, who passed away a few months before said nephew was born, and now I have two awesome associations with that particular name.

I don't really have any grand conclusion about this. It's just something I've thought about in connection with the rest of my word musings. So if any of you has a pithy way to end this, please feel free to share it with the class.

*Oddly enough, almost all of them also had a sister named Amy, or some variation thereof, which was also one of my favorite girls' names. Go figure.

That's it for Day 23—we are now entering the final week of NaBloPoMo, yo. (Okay, sorry for that. Couldn't help myself.)

Monday, November 22, 2010

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Today we enter the wonderful world of malapropisms!

A malapropism, for any less-geeky readers out there, is when you mean to use a certain word, but accidentally use a similar-sounding but different word instead. The character Dogberry in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing frequently engages in this behavior:

"Our watch, sir, have indeed comprehended two auspicious persons." (III.v.41-42)

He obviously means they have taken two shady characters into custody (apprehended two suspicious persons); what actually comes out is that he understood two favorable people.

Malapropisms can be entertaining and endearing in literary characters or as a once-in-a-while slip of the tongue; good-natured ribbing ensues. However, malapropisms as a result of someone pretentiously trying to sound ultra-intelligent can start to grate on the nerves.

What? Personal experience? Whatever gave you that idea?

If you've ever wondered about my bio information and why "quintessential" matters, it all comes back to the reason I went to law school: the Curly-Haired Boss, or CHB for short (closely related to the PHB). Leaving aside the more traumatic elements behind this situation, the CHB had an annoying malapropism habit, such as the following exchange:

CHB: We need to get the correct address, because that's quintessential in getting the letter sent out.

Me: (longish pause) Did you mean "essential"?

CHB: (even longer-ish pause) Did I?

Me: Yes, I think you did.

CHB: (longest pause yet, then continues as if nothing has happened at all) So I'll call and get the addresss....

Want to guess how he thought "prima donna" was spelled?

Anyway, I told you that story so I could tell you this one.

Okay, so it's not a story really, but thinking about word aversion made me think of the way certain words become pet peeves, not because of any aversion to the way they sound, but because of association or connotation. (Note also the difference between this kind of aversion/pet peeve and the kind related to words that are misspelled or grammatically abused.) For me it's mostly association that ruins words, and it's probably no shocker to hear that most of those bad associations are because of the CHB.

He liked to sound smart in order to impress his direct superior (who, I think, realized what a mistake he had made in promoting the CHB about a week too late to do anything to fix the situation), which included using what he (the CHB) apparently thought were intelligent words as much as he could.

These words usually tended more towards the "buzzword" category than to the "how to build a better vocabulary" side, and his tactic was to take one word, latch onto it and use it as often as possible for the next month or so until he had leeched all possible meaning out of it, then rinse and repeat with a new word. As a result, I now have almost physical reactions to the following words/usages:

Task. v. To assign. "I'm going to task you with this project."

Massage v. To tweak carefully. "We'll need to massage this letter so it doesn't sound so angry."

Robust adj. Whatever you want it to mean, as long as it's preceded by "more." "This should be more robust. I want a more robust system. Our client list should be more robust. That's the most robust sweater I've ever seen."


Do you have any words that are tainted by association?

22 days in and just over a week to go for NaBloPoMo!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

. . . we'll be right back. But not quite yet.

So I was going to continue the Words, Words, Words series today.

But that was before the Little Guy peed on me.

Four times.

In 45 minutes.

And then had a major blowout.

(Thankfully, not on me. It was pretty much contained by his onesie [which was like the sixth one for today; we've had some impressive eruptions from the other end today, too] but it was still very intense.)

So we graduated him to the next-size-up in diapers.

One hopes this will solve the problem.

Especially because I'm pretty much out of clean clothes (four changes of clothes for me today).

And my brain is kind of frazzled from all that and not really up for exploring the intricacies of vocabulary.

So we'll take this moment to celebrate the Little Guy's first, uh, graduation.

(pause for applause)

Thank you, thank you, you're too kind.

Till tomorrow, then!

Three weeks, baby!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

After these messages . . .

So today is kind of a cop-out post. Again. But that's okay.

I think I may have done this before, but books and book lists are always worth revisiting. (Like Brideshead, I guess, although I'm not sure since I've not read that one.) But I've definitely read more than 6.

I've seen this list go around several times and it always makes me wonder:

1) Why does the BBC thinks people have only read 6 of these books? Do they really have that low of an opinion of the reading habits of the modern adult? And who came up with the number 6? I even have my doubts that the BBC is actually involved in this at all, but that's another story.

2) Who chose these books? What was the criteria? Why do we have The Da Vinci Code but not Don Quixote? And why include the complete works of William Shakespeare as well as Hamlet, and didn't anyone notice that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is actually part of the Chronicles of Narnia? (Another reason why I doubt the BBC's involvement. Surely they would know better.)

3) So which six of these books does the BBC expect people to have read?

4) What does this say about my book and movie habits?

The answer to these questions is a pretty firm "I have no idea." But it's still fun to look at lists of books, right?

So, without further ado, here's the actual meme with my answers.:

Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here.

Instructions: Copy this into your NOTES.
Bold those books you've read in their entirety.
Italicize the ones you started but didn't finish or read only an excerpt.
Put an asterisk after the ones you've seen a film version of.

Tag other book nerds. Tag me as well so I can see your responses! Feel free to add comments too.

1 *Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 *The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 *Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 *Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 *To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 *The Bible
7 *Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 *Little Women - Louisa M Alcott

12 *Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 *Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 *Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 *Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald

23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 *The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 *Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

30 *The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 *David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 *Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 *Emma - Jane Austen
35 *Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 *The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 *Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 *The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 *The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 *Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 *Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 *Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 *Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov (I've only seen part of the movie, though.)
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 *Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 *Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville

71 *Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 *Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 *The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 *Possession - AS Byatt
81 *A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 *The Remains of the Day - Kazu Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 *Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 *Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 *The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 *The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 *Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 *Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

100 *Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

So that makes . . .

44 I've read in their entirety,
13 more I've read excerpts or abridged versions (or just didn't finish), and
42 movie adaptations I've seen. (I've seen brief snippets of several more, but I only included movies I've seen all or nearly all of.)

Which, I guess, makes me not-completely-uncultured. Or something.

Day 20! She could . . . go . . . all . . . the . . . way!!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Just saying it makes me sick.

I hadn't really thought much about word aversion, even after reading the article I mentioned before. I know other people who hate the word "moist" but it has never bothered me; in point of fact, I rather like it. It makes me think of either chocolate cake or moist towelettes, both of which are amazing things in their own ways. (And after you've eaten particularly moist chocolate cake you could probably use a moist towelette to tidy up.)

There aren't that many words that really bug me like that (leaving aside words that are by definition offensive or used specifically to offend, but that's different than regular word aversion). I don't generally have the kind of visceral response to a word like people do to moist, so I wasn't going to really do a separate word aversion post.

But then Lost in Translation regarding her extreme aversion to the word "lecithin" and it gave me one of those rare moments of personal insight. (Well, two actually; the first one being that while I like the word "adjectival," I don't like using the word "nominal" to denote nouns. Probably because it sounds like I'm minimizing their importance. But that's not the important moment of personal insight here.)

I don't hate "lecithin." But I hate the word for what it is.

I do have a word aversion. An extreme aversion to the word—I shudder to type it . . .

. . . "emulsifier."


Just saying it, just thinking it—nay, just typing it—gives me a serious case of the jibblies, the same way you get when you see a snake or a really gross spider or a really soggy something-that-shouldn't-be-soggy, like cake. It just sounds WRONG. And gross. And—

Okay, that's it, I need to go take a shower to get rid of the grossness.

Are there any words that you absolutely loathe? Leave 'em in the comments so we can all be grossed out together!

Day 19! Wahoo! We're nearly two-thirds of the way there!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Word Girl! But not like on PBS; or, Pick a side.

I think there's a PBS show called Word Girl, isn't there? It's something like that in any case.


In looking at the lists of favorite words you've left so far (keep them coming!), I came to a realization.

I have to blame KEY mostly, but Lost in Translation helped, too.

It has to do with "serendipitous" and "pugnacious."

My lovely friends gave the adjectival forms as their favorites, but I prefer the nouns "serendipity" and "pugnacity."

I guess I could also have called this post "Are you a Shuss or a Tee?" ("shuss" being "-cious" and "tee" being "-ity" if you didn't catch that). Team Adjective vs. Team Noun. I find it interesting that some people lean more to the adjectives when I guess I like nouns more, even though it's all basically the same word but for the suffix (if my prose lacks clarity or beauty here, today was another non-nap-day).

And I wonder why that is. Is it another weird property of word attraction that some people just like the way certain forms sound or feel more? Or does it have more to do with usage?

Because Shuss is really, when you get down to it, a prettier sound than Tee is. And yet, for all my love of good sounds, I think the auditory connection is trumped by my old creative writing teacher's mantra.

No, not "Show, don't tell," although she did like that one, too.

"Use strong nouns and verbs."

The point being that if your verbs and nouns are strong, you don't need to qualify them with adjectives or adverbs, which tend to gum things up. Also, that means that when you DO whip out an adjective or adverb, it makes a stronger impact; it hasn't been diluted by superfluous words. (There are exceptions, though. For example, I like "superfluity" better but it just makes the sentence more awkward. Which brings us to another mantra, "Use good judgment." Although come to think of it, that one was my mother's mantra, not my teacher's. Huh.)

So keep your adjectives; give me a noun!

I am Elliespen, and I am a Tee.

Goooooo, Team Noun!

Also, just incidentally, gooooo Day 18! So, are you a Shuss or a Tee? Let's forget Teams Edward and Jacob (or whatever other Teams may be out there) and pay attention to much more interesting teams. I want Team Noun and Team Adjective to battle it out in the comments section. Woohoooooo!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Word lovin'.

I came across this article about word attraction today and it got me thinking. (There's another article here about the opposite effect of word aversion in general and the word "moist" in particular which is also quite interesting.)

It's true that I love words. A lot. And I love coming across those dollar-vocabulary words like "ebullient" and "viscosity" (words like "thither," "felicity," "mischance"!) and sharing them with friends, family, casual acquaintances and even, occasionally, strangers on the street. I know other people have favorite words (my sister's favorite word being "perforated." Which, you have to admit, is a pretty dang cool word).

My grandpa used to have fun teaching us words that were disproportionately long for our size. Nothing quite as funny as a two-year-old trying to say "hypothetical." And given a little more time, I'm sure we'll be trying to get the Little Guy to say things like "anticipatory repudiation" or "temerity."

Probably some of the reason why I love Amazon PayPhrase suggestions so much is because they tend to include awesome words. I mean, "metallurgical?" Come on! That's good stuff right there! (Today's PayPhrase: Elliespen's Scarlet Equity. I don't know what it means, but I like it.)

But my favorite word is not a majorly complicated five-syllable word. ("Polysyllabic" is a great word, though.) It is, however, pretty much the most amazing word in the English language:


How can you not love that word? It looks and sounds exactly like what it is. Let's take another look.


Ahhhh. Gotta love it.

I also enjoy its cousins, "ajar" and "askew." And many, many other words, some of which are fancier and more impressive to the lay ear.

But "askance" will always be first in my heart, lexically speaking.

Let's celebrate Day 17 with awesome words! Please list some of your favorite words in the comments so we can all share the joy and beauty of vocabulary.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Tale of Four Socks; or, Really Just Two Socks Now.

The Little Guy has roughly two pairs of socks (out of the dozens that he owns) that consistently stay on his feet. As fate would have it, these are also his only two pairs of brown socks. I'm not sure why we don't have more brown socks for him when most of his wardrobe falls into the green and brown category, thus clashing with his multitude of blue socks. But so it goes.

So why is it that on the same day that half of one pair goes missing in the laundry, half of the other pair decides to fall off of his feet for the first time? And why is it that this happens in the middle of a cemetery full of fallen leaves?

Imagine looking for a light brown sock in a pile of light brown, orange and yellow leaves.


Farewell, sock. We hardly knew thee.

Hopefully I'll have better luck with the dark brown laundry sock. Or else infant sockbuying might be in my very near future.

Day 16! We are officially over the halfway point now. Who would like to celebrate this milestone by sending me brown baby socks?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Brief Book Review: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

I have had a request for more book reviews, so here's a quickie one for another late evening.

My book club just finished reading The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë. Here are a few of my thoughts. (I apologize in advance that these thoughts do not form a coherent review.)

*I was surprised that the titular tenant is, in fact, a woman. Having heard the title of this book for some years without knowing anything of what it was about, I had always envisioned said tenant as being male for some reason. Male and brooding and probably much too old for the heroine. Not sure why.

*Oh, wait, yes I am sure why. See: the author's last name.

*I was also surprised how much I enjoyed this book given the amount of time I spent being annoyed with the two main characters.

*Seriously, not since Edmund of Mansfield Park have I wanted to slap a character upside the head so badly. This is including Katniss Everdeen, folks. (And they're supposed to be the good guys!)

*I do not include Bella Swan on that list because that goes WAYYY beyond needing a slap upside the head.

*But no, if I had been reading Tenant in paperback form instead of on my Kindle, the antics of Gilbert and Helen would have merited a session of throwing the book against the wall in disgust. (Literary characters take note: putting your fingers in your ears and saying "Lalalalalala I can't HEAR you!" is NOT an effective coping mechanism.)

*Don't worry. The bad guys need a slap upside the head, too. But you expect that in a novel.

*Brontë sisters take note: NOT EVERYTHING IN LIFE IS WEIRD AND BEYOND DEPRESSING. You need to get away from those moors, yo. And I'm not talking about Othello. Or a place to tie boats.

*I'm pretty sure Anne didn't quite know how to end the book because her characters kept being stupid and not cooperating to come to some sort of resolution for the story. (See: slap upside the head.) So she had to end the story by sheer force of will, and it kind of shows. We're not quite into deus ex machina territory here, but I bet if you'd made Anne spend one more week writing this book it would have come to that.

*Literary characters take another note: Hitting someone over the head, knocking them off their horse and leaving him on the side of the road in the rain when they (understandably) refuse your offer of assistance (remember, you're the reason they need assistance in the first place) is also NOT an effective coping mechanism. Hanging out with people who do this is also a bad plan. (Victorian heroines, are you listening?)

*Brontë sisters take note again: Seriously, have you NEVER met a normal happy couple? Wow.

*Book club members take note: This was a lot of fun. Have I mentioned how much I like you folks?

To sum up: I liked this book but it was not my favorite Brontë book ever (Jane Eyre), nor do I think it is the best-written of the Brontë books (I have to admit that award goes to Wuthering Heights, as weird and depressing as it is). But definitely worth picking up; once you start reading it you want to keep reading it until the end.

I know you're probably sick of me mentioning what day we've reached in my NaBloPoMo blogging streak. But being able to give myself a virtual high-five everyday like this is what has gotten me to day 15 (halfway there!); it's kind of like the little pick-me-up you get when you cross an item off your to-do list.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

This post is not about poop.

Before I became a parent, poop was not a part of my daily conversational routine. Despite the fact that everyone does it, it's not something I talked or thought about on a regular basis.

That is no longer the case now that the Little Guy is in our lives.

However, I realize that for all the folks out there who did not just become parents, the topic retains its less-than-savory nature. So out of concern for their tender sensibilities, I try not to talk about it in great detail or at great length.

But it's pretty much all that's on my mind at the moment.

Which doesn't leave me a lot to blog about.

So this post is not about poop. So sorry that it ever came up.

And, having thus exhausted my topic, this post is now finished.

I can't believe this is still going after 2 weeks. I would like to point out that today is the closest I've ever run it to the deadline and still made it on time. Procrastination for the win, I suppose.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Seven weeks!

So today the Little Guy is 7 weeks old. I would just like to take this moment to say that is crazy. I cannot believe it's been both that long and that short of a time. I have loved every minute of it.

That's pretty much all I have to say today.

I'll post something better tomorrow. But I wanted to be able to gloat about my 13-day streak.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Three things that make me laugh.

Courtesy of Booklicious.

I'm kind of in love with this show.

Just saw this movie and loved it. John Malkovich definitely stole the show.

12 days and counting! I could totally be a Christmas song at this point.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Days like today are why I decided to not worry about NaNoWriMo. I know the Little Guy HAS to be tired because he has not slept longer than 30 minutes at a time all day, and not for very many of those 30-minute chunks, either.

But he Will. Not. Sleep.

I've finally got him in his crib and more or less calm (no noise from the baby monitor yet) but then we're only at about minute 12 so there's about 18 minutes to go before he decides the world is ending and he must have Mommy NOW. Which I love that he likes me and needs me and all that but that's about 15 hours straight of all mommy mode all the time. (Okay, to be fair, I did get a shower while Shallow Man held the Little Guy and the Little Guy screamed because he decided right after I got in the shower that he needed to eat again NOW even though I had just finished feeding him about 10 minutes before. Oy.)

The punchline of which is: I love being a mommy, but sometimes it means I can't be a good (or at the very least, an interesting) blogger, so this is all you get today.

But at least I did manage to post today for Day 11, right? Maybe if we all cross our fingers and hope very hard, he will start sleeping again and give me a chance to do a bang-up job tomorrow for Day 12. Maybe? :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Poor Little Bunny

Thanks to all who have De-Lurked so far. I've enjoyed seeing your comments.

So the Little Guy has had a tummy ache since yesterday as he tries to come to terms with his digestive system. It's nothing serious, but it does mean he needs even more love and attention (poor little guy can't even cry real tears yet), which means less time for blogging.

Which means it's time to shamelessly lift hilarious videos from other blogs!

I laughed at this. Very hard. Because it is TRUE.

As Bridget kindly explained:

(PS - the one line in the clip that's difficult to catch is "you've not heard of LemSip?" which is like TheraFlu. And at the end he asks to watch cbeebies, which is like British Sesame Street.)

(Thanks, Bridget, and I hope your family feels better soon!)

Here's hoping that the Little Guy's tummy ache doesn't turn into a Man Cold. (Do you think it's related to the Cold of the Century?)

Till tomorrow, then!

A 10-day streak! Admit it, you didn't think I'd make it this far. (I know I sure didn't!)

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

A Trip to the Library; or, Thank You, Jerry Bock.

Don't forget to De-Lurk, please!

Jerry Bock passed away last week. For those of you who aren't geeky enough to recognize that name without more explanation, he was the Bock half (obviously) of the duo Bock and Harnick, who wrote Broadway musicals (Sheldon Harnick, the lyricist to Bock's composer, is still alive). And if that doesn't help, maybe this will:

So let me pause here because I want to make one thing very clear. I adore Fiddler on the Roof. I think it is brilliant and quite possibly one of the best musicals ever written.

But it's not my favorite musical by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick.

That distinction goes to the little-known 1963 gem She Loves Me.

It's the story of The Shop Around the Corner in musical format. (The movie was originally adapted from a play called Parfumerie, by Hungarian playwright Miklos Laszlo, and subsequently remade as In the Good Old Summertime and, later, You've Got Mail.) The music is sweet, the story and characters are charming, and, of course, the guy gets the girl in the end. (If you think that's a spoiler you're not paying attention.)

Unfortunately, this beautiful little musical was overshadowed by the mega-shows Funny Girl and Hello, Dolly that year, with which it couldn't compete, and so it only played for a short run, and was mostly shut out come Tony time.

Which is a real shame. It features such songs as "No More Candy" (trying to sell a musical candy box to a skeptical customer), "Tonight At Eight" (our leading man is nervous about his impending date to meet the girl of his dreams), "Perspective" (the older clerk in the store explains how to keep your job), "Romantic Atmosphere" (a frustrated maitre d' tries to impress upon a bumbling waiter the importance of setting the mood for lovers' meetings), "Tango Tragique" (a cautionary tale about anonymous pen pals), "Where's My Shoe" (leading lady gets a bit of a crazy-go-nuts scene), "Ice Cream" and "She Loves Me" (the leading lady and leading man, respectively, discover a softening of their feelings of animosity toward each other), "Grand Knowing You" (the skeezy clerk's big farewell), and several others.

Including my very favorite, "A Trip to the Library."

In this scene, when last we saw our secondary lady, (who is a bit of a floozy), she had just had her heart stomped on by the skeezy clerk for the last time, and valiantly resolved to change her ways and not be taken in by such a skeezy guy again. She comes back to work the next morning and reports on her progress to the leading man. It seems that last night, she found her feet taking her on an unexpected route . . . to the library. "You've never seen anything like that library! So many books! So much marble! So quiet!"

I chose this version out of all the many on YouTube because even though she flubs a couple of the lyrics, she sings it more closely to the way the original actress, Barbara Baxley, did. I prefer the slightly more vulnerable and sweet tone to the brassier belting featured in most of the other renditions. If you'd like to see how it plays out on stage, though, I did enjoy this version:

I ask you, how can you not love a show with a song that rhymes "respectable" and "bespectacled"? And who could resist a lyric like this:

I have to admit, in the back of my mind
I was praying he wouldn't get fresh,
And all of the while I was wondering why
An illiterate girl should attract him.
Then all of a sudden he said that I couldn't
Go wrong with the way of all flesh—
Of course it's a novel, but I didn't know
Or I certainly wouldn't have smacked him!

If you have never heard of She Loves Me, I suggest you do yourself a favor and check out the soundtrack. Or keep an eye out on your community theater notices, as this show is frequently mounted around Christmas time. Check to see if there's a production going on near you and go to see it. Take a friend and sink back into this lovely little musical. I promise you won't regret it.

Day 9! Wahoo! (When was the last time you went "wahoo"?)

Monday, November 08, 2010

De-Lurk Day 2010

There's a blog I read which sports the saying "I don't hate comments" on its sidebar. I can agree with this sentiment. Another blogger has explained the reasons why it's okay to be a blog stalker.

I freely admit to stalking blogs and am well aware that there are some people who stalk my blog. I know this mostly because Google Analytics—which is one of my favorite toys, just by the way—shows some regular readers in places where I do not know anyone (or at least, I'm not aware of knowing anyone from these locations).

Which I think is pretty awesome. I like the fact that I can get to know a little bit about someone I've never met, or that I'm sharing my quirky little random stories and thoughts (because, let's face it, that's about as "themed" as this blog gets) with others that I wouldn't have had the chance to share them with otherwise. I like the way the blogging world shrinks the real world in some ways.

But in other ways, I'm a little sad that it tends to be so anonymous. I've found some really cool blogs from people who comment on this and other blogs, and I wonder how many more I'm missing because people are lurking and not commenting. I admit that I frequently lurk at blogs without commenting, usually because I don't want them to freak out about the fact that I happen to be lurking. It may take months of lurkage before I post a comment.

So I don't want any of you to feel worried about this. Following the lead of yet another cool blogger, I declare today to be official De-Lurk Day at The Scritchy Nib. Please leave a comment and let me know if you're reading the blog, where you're from, your favorite dessert, any requests you have for future rants well-thought-out commentaries, any questions you have for me, or anything else you feel comfortable sharing.

I love comments and I love finding new blog friends. Let's make this a day to celebrate both.

(And if you are a regular commenter, please know that I already hold you in the highest esteem, and feel free to continue in that excellent vein.)

Please note: In keeping with the theme, all of today's blog links are brought to you by blogs of people I do not personally know, and at which I have lurked and subsequently de-lurked and commented.

Wahoo! More than a week down and I'm still on track (and, I might add, posting well before midnight)! Help me stay on track with lots of awesome comments! (Yeah, okay, now I'm just shamelessly begging.)

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Sunday Message

We blessed the Little Guy in church today and gave him his official name. Which isn't Little Guy, or Sharkbait, or Houdini (because no swaddler can contain him!), but which also will not be featured on this blog. If you really want to know, send me an email and I'll tell you that way.

But because of that, we had family over and there was some celebrating, plus you factor in the Sunday afternoon naps and the fact that the Little Guy blew through about six diapers and four changes of clothing in just under two hours, and I think you'll cut me some slack for doing a video post.

This is from a talk by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and I've been thinking a lot about it lately. It's what I've needed to hear many times. Enjoy!

So day 7 is cutting it pretty close, but I think it counts if I haven't gone to bed yet.

P.S. Just to give you an indication of the mush-like state of my brain at the moment, when I originally posted this it said "blew threw" instead of "blew through." Yeah. I'm embarrassed for myself.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Short and sweet: The Amazon PayPhrase.

Today was rather busier than usual so we're going with the short and sweet post today.

All I really want to say is that Amazon PayPhrase is one of the joys of my life. I have not yet and never will set my Amazon PayPhrase because if I did, it would stop suggesting pay phrases for me. And I get such good ones.

Like today's gem:

"Elliespen's Austere Sofas."

Past favorites include:

"Elliespen's Sketchy Seat"
"Elliespen's Unstoppable Disco"
"Elliespen's Glowing Jewels"
"Elliespen's Unfocused Thoughts"
"Elliespen's Social Fraternity"
"Elliespen's Extreme Retention" (This was either a good omen for bar study or an apt reflection on the size of my pregnancy feet.)

A friend of mine once got "Metallurgical Episodes" and "Racy Writings." Today, Shallow Man got "Gradual Layers," and once it was "Shallow Man's Wild Missions."

Yes, an Amazon PayPhrase suggestion can brighten up a grey day or add extra zest to a happy one. What are some of your favorite past PayPhrases?

Today, mine should be something like "Elliespen's Continued Triumph." Day 6, baby!

Friday, November 05, 2010

Remember, Remember...; or, A Memory.

So . . . Happy Guy Fawkes Day! I actually remembered it before midnight this year. Actually, I remembered it before three in the afternoon, which I think is making great progress.

All together now:

Remember, remember,
The fifth of November
Gunpowder treason and plot;
We see no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

Yeah, I have a confession.

I don't really actually care about Guy Fawkes Day. Not like I care about other not-really holidays, like International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

I just like to point it out every year because it reminds me of the first time I heard of Guy Fawkes Day.

Which wasn't on Guy Fawkes Day. At least, I don't think it was. At any rate, it might have been, but if it was, I didn't know it at the time and it was purely coincidental and actually has NOTHING to do with the story I am trying to tell but keep getting sidetracked from telling.


Do you remember book orders in elementary school? (YES THIS IS IMPORTANT. I am laying a foundation here, like Prof. Goldsmith would want me to do.)

(We just watched an episode of Psych in which he was in court and NO FOUNDATION was laid for anything whatsoever but the judge for some reason kept allowing stuff. That's what made me think of foundation laying. Sorry. Tangent over.)

I loved book orders. I loved getting those fliers made out of the flimsy newsprint type paper with the pictures and the blurbs and the little red-ribbon labels for the Newberry winners. I loved turning to the last page and reading down the full list of titles and then trying to find each of them in the flier, like a little game of hide and seek.

I also loved filling out the order form (Confession [and apology for yet another tangent]: I like filling out forms. Especially when it's a little stack of forms on top of each other, making it all cushiony when I fill in the blanks with a black ball-point pen. Yeah, I know I'm odd.) and cutting it out and putting it in a little envelope with the money for my order (although I always wished that it didn't ruin the rest of the flier; it was harder to re-read later if some of the entries from the other side of the form were half-cut-out and missing) (see above comment re: I know I'm odd).

Most of all I loved the day that the actual books from book orders came and the parent volunteer in charge of coordinating book orders for that year would come hand out the stacks of books and put them on the desks of their respective order-ers. And then the new book smell coming from the stack, and the anticipation. Which book would I read first? What new words and stories would I discover in these pages? Would I be able to avoid getting any papercuts from this stack of awesome on my desk?

One time I ordered a collection of short stories by Agatha Christie featuring a funny little Belgian detective. The book was called Murder in the Mews, had an oh-so-pretty cream-and-purple-and-dark-green cover with an attractive art deco design with the silhouette in red of a man with a bowler hat and a cane, and was my first introduction to M. Hercule Poirot. (I shortly thereafter made the connection that this detective was also on TV on Masterpiece Mystery. Gotta love PBS.)

I pretty much devoured the book but my favorite story was the titular case. I'm not sure why. I just really liked it. (Maybe it had something to do with the name of one of the key characters: Miss Jane Plenderleith. How could you not fall in love with such a story?)

And this story opened with Hercule Poirot and Inspector Japp walking home one evening and remarking that it would be a great night for a murder because no one would hear the sound of a shot.

Why? Because of all the fireworks going off for Guy Fawkes day.

For your benefit, here is the passage from which I gleaned my knowledge of this day.

"Rank excuse for begging, that's what Guy Fawkes day is!" said Japp.

"An interesting survival," mused Hercule Poirot. "The fireworks go up—crack—crack—long after the man they commemorate and his deed are forgotten."

The Scotland Yard man agreed.

"Don't suppose many of those kids really know who Guy Fawkes was."

"And soon doubtless there will be confusion of thought. Is it in honor or in execration that on the 5th of November the feu d'artifice are sent up? To blow up an English parliament, was it a sin or a noble deed?"

Japp chuckled.

"Some people would say undoubtedly the latter."

So, penny for the guy?

(Yeah, you were worried I wouldn't ever get back to my original point, weren't you? I totally showed you!)

(Also, happy 5th NaBlo post! Which, I think, is a much more exciting event to commemorate.)

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Well, That Was Unexpected.

I had my six-week checkup today (my incision is doing great; the doctor says I'm "a great healer").

Everything was normal until they called my name to head back to the checkup room and there, standing with the nurse, is an adorable 10-year-old girl, looking like she thinks she belongs there.

Apparently it was Bring Your Daughter to Work Day, or something of the sort. She was my doctor's daughter and was shadowing her father for the day as part of a school assignment. (Don't worry, she didn't come into the room to help during the actual checkup. The proprieties must be observed at all times.)

I have to say, Daughter pretty much rocks. Because not only does she have the coo-over-the-patient's-baby demeanor down pat (like I said before, Little Guy is eminently coo-overable; I'll try to do a photo post sometime soon); she also takes blood pressure like a pro.

Better than the pros, actually, because when she took my blood pressure today it has finally started creeping down towards normal levels. It was low enough, in fact, that while it's not normal yet, I don't have to take the blood pressure medication anymore.


I think maybe the pros were doing it wrong before. I may have to talk to them and see if they can bring Awesome Daughter in every time I go back for an appointment.

The girl's got skills, is all I'm saying.

Ooh, and I got it in just before midnight! Go me on day 4!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

It's Freaking Awesome, That's What It Is.

Sometimes awesome things happen.

(Like the fact that, while trying to post this blog entry, my internet service hiccupped [no, that’s not the awesome part] and while looking at my network settings I noticed that apparently some of my neighbors have named their wireless networks “BaconFace”, "Howdy :)" and “Gellin Like a Crellin.” Yup. I think maybe I need to make better friends with my neighbors now.)

(Oh, and don’t worry. My internet service came back in time to post this blog entry before the deadline. Which is why you’re reading this now. Which is another one of those awesome things that happens, although not, again, the main awesome thing in question here.)

No, sometimes awesome things happen, like what happened to me last Saturday.

I went to my cousin’s baby shower on Saturday. Okay, technically she’s my cousin’s wife, but it’s easier just to call people plain cousin; they’re all family anyway. But the in-law factor is important to this story of awesomeness because it meant that some of her other relatives who are not directly related to me were also present.

Said other relatives were sitting on the other side of the room during the main festivities but came over to coo over Little Guy during the munch-and-mingle phase. (Because, let’s face it, Little Guy is eminently coo-over-able. The dude is adorable, is all that I’m sayin’.)

One of them asked who he belonged to, and I fessed up to being the mother in question. After congratulating me, she said, “We were trying to figure out who he belonged to before, but nobody here looked like they’d just had a baby.”

Yes, my friends, sometimes awesome things happen.

(Yeah, it’s been several days and I am still floating over this one.)

(And. AND—what is also awesome? The fact that I’m still on track here after three days. Yeah, with the whole parenthood and sleep deprivation thing, I take what I can get.)

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Remembering; or, One Year Later

So I'm cheating a little bit again today for NaBloPoMo by re-posting an entry from last year in honor of this first anniversary. But I still think it counts. :)

Three for Grandpa, 1914-2009
The Secret

We have a secret, just we three:
The robin, and I, and the sweet cherry tree.
The bird told the tree, and the tree told me,
And nobody knows it but just us three.

Of course the robin knows it best,
Because she built the -- I won't say the rest --
And laid the four little --somethings-- in it.
I'm afraid I shall tell it every minute!

But if the tree and the robin don't peep,
I'll try my best the secret to keep.
But when the little somethings fly about,
Then the whole secret will be out.

- Anonymous

The Swing

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
River and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside --

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown --
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!

- Robert Louis Stevenson


A girl. Arms outstretched, swooping wildly
across the sky, returning mildly
to earth, on the end of a string
madly running, she catches the wind,
rises aloft. She holds the twine
to her ear to hear the wind sing.

A grandfather. Smiling slightly,
weathered hands grip his own string tightly
hovering steadily in the sky,
teaching her to hear the wind sing,
watching her swoop. He is remembering
the giddy new thrill of first learning to fly.


Touched you last, Grandpa!

Monday, November 01, 2010

No Mo?

So November is the month of Mo's. NaNoWriMo, NaNoReaMo, NaBloPoMo, etc. We'll see what happens.

As far as blog posting goes, though, I think it still counts even if it's not an exciting post and is barely squeezing in under the deadline. So there.

See you tomorrow (perhaps. It all depends on the whim of the new master of the house).