Not a grammar nazi

You know like, so, um

grammar naziI looked it up: “A grammar nazi is a pedant who compulsively criticizes or corrects people’s grammar mistakes, typos, misspellings, and other errors in speech or writing.” And that never was me, although I have been accused of the same.

Either in this blog or my old Times-Union site, I openly surrendered the fight over its and it’s. I’ve discovered that even people who are otherwise good writers simply can’t get it. It reminds me of a Paul Simon interview about how, when working with Ladysmith Black Mambazo, they just didn’t understand things in minor keys.

The only people I correct over typos are a handful of my fellow bloggers, and then always by email or text. The number of typos I have made on Facebook is enormous, ironically often made worse by autocorrect.
I can NEVER spell tintinnabulation, which means “a ringing or tinkling sound,” without looking it up. For years, I misspelled Pete Townshend’s last name as Townsend.

Basically, if I understand what is intended, I’m good. This is why the new definition of literally so utterly confounds me.

In part, that’s why I’ve adopted the singular they, because, ultimately its, I mean it’s, less confusing.


I’ve come around to accepting the use of the filler in informal speech. What is that? “In linguistics, a filler, filled pause, hesitation marker, or planner is a sound or word that participants in a conversation use to signal that they are pausing to think but are not finished speaking…

“In American English, the most common filler sounds are ah or uh and um … Among younger speakers, the fillers ‘like’, ‘you know’, ‘I mean’, ‘okay’, ‘so’, ‘actually’, ‘basically’, and ‘right?’ are among the more prevalent.”

It’s not as though I like, you know, “like”, especially in its Valley Girl intonation. However, I’ve been watching JEOPARDY – no surprise. During the interview section, Mayim or Ken will ask about something on the contestant card that they fill out. Mayim in particular will ask a question as a statement. “You hung out in the South Pacific with sharks. Tell us about that.” So many contestants will reply with “So” before launching into the story that I’ve given them a pass.

And if you’ve been on enough ZOOM meetings, you know it’s difficult to ascertain when a person is finished talking. A “you know” or “um” is actually a useful cue to keep me from interrupting someone.


Finally, I’ve never been that fussy when the culture tries to verbify a word from another part of speech. I remember that a columnist – I don’t recall who – was fretting about the word “party” becoming a verb! PARTY is a NOUN, they grumbled. Somewhere between Sam Cooke’s “We’re having a party” and Prince’s “We’re gonna party like it’s 1999,” that fight was SO lost.

Word debates: sheroes and herstory

Nellie Bly

Nellie Bly statuesSomeone on a Facebook page that is about words asked a question. “Heard on NPR a discussion of heroes and sheroes. What’s wrong with heroine?”

Folks on the list replied that heroine is a diminutive for “hero” and may demean and trivialize the qualities of the women. They noted that words such as comedienne and poetess have fallen by the wayside. I remember that, in my lifetime, some people were trying to reintroduce the word authoress. For what purpose, I no longer recall. It hasn’t been embraced, fortunately, except as an “old-fashioned” word in some dictionaries.

The one word that has survived is the word actress. While I’ve often heard “actor” used for all performers, “actress” still is in the lexicon for awards, such as the Oscars and the Tonys. That is understandable. Getting rid of categories by gender might be someone’s idea of “equitable,” but one could reasonably believe that men would end up receiving the lion’s share of recognition.


“Heroine” also has people thinking that it sounds very much like something else, which I’ve believed for a half-century. Even the Free Dictionary and others note this. “Not to be confused with: heroin – highly addictive narcotic derived from morphine: He had a hard time kicking heroin.” This I did not know: “The name heroin was coined from the German heroisch meaning heroic, strong. Heroin is stronger (more potent) than morphine.”

One objection to sheroes was this: “I just think it’s mostly patronizing. If a woman is a hero, she’s a hero. ‘Sheroes’ sounds like the Women’s Auxiliary of Heroes. It’s the ‘Hear Me Roar’ version of heroism.” I don’t hear it that way, but OK.

We can beat them, just for one day

Another noted all the female heroes we have had for decades. “Alice Stebbins, first American woman police officer hired in the 1910s. Loretta Walsh, the first woman to enroll in the military in 1917. A whole century earlier in 1815, Molly Williams was the first woman firefighter and I’m pretty sure women have been doing ‘everyday stuff’ since the beginning of time.

“I mean, sure, let’s go with sheroes but don’t excuse it thinking that women police officer/military/firefighter are some progressive new thing. That’s just the wrong narrative and honestly, most of my personal heroes are some (my mom and grandma for example) and a new word just seems unnecessary in my opinion.” Ah, but what of severe pushback are some of those women still receiving, particularly in the US military?

“Language is a social thing and if the majority decide to start using this kind of language, then my opinion becomes irrelevant. Let society decide.” Which, inevitably, it does. I really don’t have skin in that game. Maybe it’s because of the ease people are presently dubbed heroic, IMO. Though I’m rather fond of the Misty Copeland-inspired Barbie ‘Sheroes’ Doll.


On the other hand, I’m rather fond of herstory, though my spellcheck is not. Sure, women’s history IS history, just as black history IS history. But there are so many examples where it’s not as well-known as it should be.

I was particularly taken by a monument of several statues honoring journalist Nellie Bly opening on Roosevelt Island. It was created by sculptor Amanda Matthews. “In 1887, Bly went undercover as an inmate at the island’s asylum. Her report ‘Ten Days in a Mad-House’ revealed the deplorable treatment of women in the facility and prompted outrage and reform.” On the backs of the sculptures are engraved with the quote from Bly’s writings that inspired the selection of each subject.

“Matthews also made a sculpture of educator Nettie Depp. It will be installed next year at the Kentucky State Capitol. She said she made the statue after she discovered the state lacked sculptures honoring women.” The only female who had been honored with a statue in KY heretofore was a horse.

“‘Women’s history didn’t show up in our history books the same as men. It’s not written down as much. It’s not portrayed as much. So, we have to reach back into history, find this information, bring it into the 21st century,’ said Matthews.” And I would agree. For instance, I had never heard of Alice Stebbins Wells, Loretta Perfectus Walsh, or Molly Williams.

What do you all think of sheroes and herstory?

January rambling: The lips move, but not much else

Put Down the Duckie

climbing-helmets-486644_1280Agreeing with Karl Rove

Rep. Jamie Raskin On Surviving A Double Blow of Tragedy and Finding the Strength to Lead

The “Gaslighting” of Jan. 6: TV News Grapples With Capitol Riot a Year Later

Examining mental health issues among black men – A Guide To Freedom

Letting Go: Wisdom From Our Grief

The quits rate, the percentage of resignations relative to total employment is the highest on record

How to help you stop being so late (or at least make you more honest about it)

Lowell, MA Mayor Sokhary Chau is the first Cambodian American mayor in the nation

Groundbreaking of the Maternal Center of Excellence in Kono, Sierra Leone

Should We Ban Jingle Bells?

MCU’s Hawkeye and a Theology of Disability

Dick Cavett interviewing Mel Brooks. The Bill Cullen story

The NYS Thruway, c 1951

How to Rescue Your  Photos From an Old Computer

Synchro-Vox: The lips move, but not much else. (Think of Clutch Cargo)

Now I Know:  How to Lick a Killer Serve and Profit That’s Easy as Pie and  Frosty, The Snowman Reaction and Mr. Bubble, Pink Super Hero and
 The Stinging Feeling of Expertise e


John Madden Honored Across the NFL on First Sunday After His Death. I really knew that the player/coach/broadcaster with 16 Emmys/video game consultant was significant when my wife, who does not follow football, wanted to watch the special about Madden, which first aired only three days before his unexpected death.

Peter Bogdanovich, Oscar-Nominated Director, Dies at 82 (The Last Picture Show, What’s Up, Doc? and Paper Moon)

Trailblazing feminist author, critic, and activist bell hooks has died at 69

Harry Reid remembered as a fighter, skilled Senate dealmaker

Remembering Franklin Thomas, the first Black foundation president in America

The US’s oldest surviving WWII Vet, Lawrence Brooks, has died at 112

Dwayne Hickman, Star of ‘The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis,’ Dies at 87

Bob Saget Dies at 65. I didn’t watch Full House or AFV, but I’m taken how well-respected he was by other performers.

Ronnie Spector of the Ronettes died at age 78

Laura Curtis, the MIL of my eldest niece, died. I have only one memory of her, which is here 

Virtual DC Feb 7 2022


From respair to cacklefart – the joy of reclaiming long-lost positive words

Graminovore – An animal that feeds on grass
Granivore – An animal that feeds on grain and seeds

Ecdysiast is a fancy word for stripper

Either or neither of three?

Inspired by Roger Owen Green

Ask Arthur Anything: To blog, or not to blog and Biblical endings and me and NZ seriousness, me, and fun

To love the Three Stooges is to love America.


Move On – Bernadette Peters from Sunday in the Park With George.

Sondheim medley in a roadside diner – Carol Burnett, Tony Roberts, and Bernadette Peters

The 2021 (reduced) mashups 

Coverville: 1384 and 1385: The 2021 Coverville countdown. 1386: The David Bowie 75th Birthday Cover Story

Put Down The Duckie – Sesame Street

The Trolley Song – Voctave

Franklin Shepard Inc. from Merrily We Roll Along, London 2013

I Liked Me Better -Lauv

Catch Us If You Can – The Jalopy Five

At This Performance – Christine Pedi as Liza Minelli

Musicians who passed in 2021, Part One and Part Two

What Is the word misogynoir?

a racialized nuance

misogynoirUntil 2019, I was unaware of the portmanteau “misogynoir.” Yet, once I saw it, even before hearing the formal characterization, I knew two things; the definition, and how accurate it was.

From the Blackburn Center: “Coined by the queer Black feminist Moya Bailey in 2010, the term is a blending of concepts that combines ‘misogyny’ and the French word for black, ‘noir.’ According to Ms. Bailey, misogynoir is the anti-Black racist misogyny that Black women experience.”

Way back in 2015, the Guardian noted the reaction to a black woman complaining about treatment at a London nightclub. “‘Misogynoir provides a racialised nuance that mainstream feminism wasn’t catching,’ says black feminist commentator, Feminista Jones. ‘We are talking about misogyny, yes, but there is a specific misogyny that is aimed at black women and is uniquely detrimental to black women.’”

Sometimes it’s for speaking up to stand up for oneself or others. Here’s a  good example from 2020: “Trump… spoke at two separate press conferences and harshly singled out Yamiche Alcindor, a White House correspondent for PBS NewsHour who is black… Critics argued that his treatment of the journalist amounted to misogynoir. Trump called her questions ‘nasty’ and lectured her to, ‘Be nice. Don’t be threatening. Don’t be threatening.'”


Often, it has to do with physical attributes. To the Twitter trolls, Serena Williams and Michelle Obama, to name two, are “gorillas”, “more manly than any man”. Far-right radio show host Jesse Kelly snarked on Faux News that Kamala Harris “cackles like a dead hyena” with Tucker Carlson laughing in the background.

According to the Los Angeles Times’ Noah Bierman, “Research shows that Harris may be the most targeted American politician on the internet.” Why? She “checks every box for the haters of the fever swamps: She’s a woman, she’s a person of color and she holds power.”

What reminded me of the word is in the description of the late Gloria Richardson, An “Influential Yet Largely Unsung Civil Rights Pioneer.” She “was on the stage at the pivotal March on Washington in 1963 as one of six women listed as ‘fighters for freedom’ on the program. However, she was only allowed to say ‘hello’ before the microphone was taken.”

It isn’t necessary to agree with someone’s policy, position, or life situation to recognize misogynoir for the specific bigotry that it is.

I love this arcane stuff

Jane Seymour turns 70

My wife had purchased a few bushels of apples over the late summer. She kept them in the basement, which tends to be cooler than the rest of the house. But by December, the last of the apples were looking wrinkled.

“They’re wisened,” I observed.  This led to a conversation about why the word has a short I rather than long I sound, though it has one S rather than two. Maybe because the long I sounds more like someone who is wise? I love arcane stuff like this, items that make me ponder.

Not a new decade

My friend David and I had a nice back-and-forth about whether the decade should start with 2021 since the century began with 2001. I favored the inconsistency. After all, September is the ninth month, not the seventh.

I think he was won over by how we define people. “An individual who has been alive for two full decades is referred to as being in their 20s for the next decade of their life, from age 20 to 29.” 

Census stuff

My Census buddy, also named David, and I exchange articles about the Census. Several of his finds I’ve used in various articles. I noted for him a Daily Kos report indicating that “the state-level population data from the 2020 census that is needed to determine how many congressional seats and Electoral College votes each state receives is not expected to be released until April 30, four months after the original deadline.”

Likewise, “the more granular population data needed for states to actually draw new districts won’t be released until at least after July 30, which is also a delay of at least four months from the original March 31 deadline. Consequently, these delays will create major disruptions for the upcoming 2020 round of congressional and legislative redistricting.

“New York University Law School’s Brennan Center for Justice released an in-depth report in 2020 looking at which states have deadlines that are in conflict with a potentially delayed data release schedule and what the impact of a delay may be.

“The most directly affected states are New Jersey and Virginia, which are the only two states that are set to hold legislative elections statewide in 2021 and would normally redraw all of their legislative districts this year.”

I remain a Census geek.

Music and art

My friend and FantaCo colleague Rocco tipped me off about the book Will Eisner: Champion of the Graphic Novel (2015). It has a graphic that would have been on a Kitchen Sink Chronicles if FantaCo had ever published it back in the 1980s.

I had just purchased The Beatles (The White Album) [6 CD + Blu-ray]. So I gave him the three-CD set I bought a couple of years ago but didn’t need anymore.

We got into an arcane conversation about the album Graceland by Paul Simon. I had purchased the 25th Anniversary Edition (2011) CD a few years back. It also featured the Under African Skies film on DVD. I gave my old copy of the Graceland CD to a blogger buddy who had never heard it.

But Rocco had NOT purchased it, and I knew why. It was because it did NOT include the 6-minute version of Boy in the Bubble. Rocco had purchased the 12″ from the Music Shack record store back when it came out. I tried to get a copy but it never arrived. Rocco lent me his 12″ and I recorded the song on a cassette. But we BOTH were disappointed that the song failed to show up on the anniversary edition.

NOT the third wife of Henry VIII

The performer  Jane Seymour turns 70 today. I often note people who reach three score and ten in this blog. Though I’ve seen her in few guest appearances, a miniseries or two, and some infomercials I’ve come across, I really only know her from one thing. And if you know her for only one thing, it’s probably the same show: Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. I didn’t watch it regularly, but I didn’t turn it off when I happened across it.

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