Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Crappy Poem of the Day #006

A sleepy Nick today the gym had made.
To bed he went. "Goodnight to all," he bade.

Say What? – Specimens 1 & 2

Welcome to the first edition of Say What?! In this series, I will take on the role of a linguistic treasure hunter, digging through the vast untamed wilderness of the internet to discover gems of unspeakable value. What sort of gems, you ask? The most glaring abuses of the English language. Actually, the rare gem analogy isn't very good. These gems would be lying all over the ground. They're so common that you don't notice them anymore, but when you pick one up and examine it, you just have to marvel at its simplistic beauty.

I'm not talking about mere misspellings, punctuation errors, or text message abbrevs. The specimens in this series are sentences that make me laugh out loud when I read them. Often, the people who wrote them are trying to be taken seriously, and then suddenly all their credibility goes out the window because of one foolish mistake. I know I'll probably come off as a little bit of an asshole in this series, or perhaps you'll even peg me as troglodytic. I hope you don't. I understand that the English language evolves. Maybe these writers are just the most avant-garde of the English revolutionaries.

Please don't read these entries as criticisms. Instead, think of them as exhibits – specimens to examine and interpret as you see fit. I interpret them as hilarious.

~ ~ ~

Specimen 1
  • Location of Discovery: online gun forum
  • Context: discussion of firing large-caliber guns at the range, which some shooters find obnoxiously loud
  • Required Background: definition of "nomenclature": a system or set of terms or symbols especially in a particular science, discipline, or art

"You got to keep in mind that we're all there to have fun and hone our skills, no matter what gun you use. I agree, you get some morons there that don't understand the nomenclature of the range and just shoot for the sake of shooting, whether they disturb anyone or not."

  • My Immediate Reaction: befuddlement
  • Analysis: Perhaps he thought "nomenclature" was a fancy word for "culture", "protocol", or "etiquette"?

~ ~ ~

Specimen 2

YouTuber1: "JUST AWESOM! I bet in 2 month we have some stupid raper doing a shitie remix!"

YouTuber2: "Rapper is spelled like that you (lol) spelled Raper lol"

  • My Immediate Reaction: snickering, head shaking
  • Analysis: The comment by YouTuber1 is typical: use of incorrect homophones, typos, and otherwise bizarre spelling. YouTuber2, despite overuse of "lol", nobly scoffs at YouTuber1's post. Unfortunately, any efforts at behavior correction on YouTube will prove futile.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Crappy Poem of the Day #005

My stomach rumbles.
What's on the menu today?
Sandwich: Turkey, Swiss.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Crappy Poem of the Day #004

Blue tube of ChapStick, I miss you so.
I cannot find you, where did you go?
My lips crack and bleed,
Petroleum I need,
Come back ere I start to go loco.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Crappy Poem of the Day #003

House: ridiculous.
Scrubs: pretty good, but check out...
Childrens' Hospital.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Giddy Fanboy

I've mentioned the NPR podcast All Songs Considered on my blog several times. It's where I find most of my new music. To meet the host, Bob Boilen, is one of my dreams. Well, today I got one step closer to that dream.

I made Bob Boilen laugh.

I know you probably didn't even know who he was five seconds ago, and making a random person laugh seems like no big deal, but imagine how you'd feel if one of your favorite celebrities laughed at one of your jokes. It's a pretty cool feeling.

To see how it happened, look at this post on the All Songs Considered Blog, then look at the comments, starting with the oldest ones.

"Tweet! Tweet! Tweet!" – How annoying.

I consider myself to be pretty tech savvy. I like playing with the newest technologies and participating in social phenomena (derogatorily referred to as fads). I still love Facebook, though I don't really use it for fun anymore; mostly it's just another way for me to contact and communicate with people, and occasionally to passively stalk people I don't put any real effort into keeping up with.

Given my predisposition to embracing new technologies and internet fads, you'd think I'd be all over Twitter. I've read about it for years in more nerdy circles – Wired Magazine, tech blogs, etc. – but it has never really captured my interest. In fact, the more I hear about it, the more perplexing it's increasing popularity becomes to me. The major news media seems to have caught on to it in the last six months or so. I think just about every day now, you can find a story about twitter in the news. Usually when this happens, it means that the social phenomenon (a.k.a. fad) in question has already reached its peak, and is becoming increasingly crowded with bandwagon jumpers and curious but hopelessly out of touch Midwesterners (see: Myspace, Facebook, Fixed Gears). I'm just amazed that Twitter has reached this point without me. To this day, I still don't understand the appeal.

I have a few theories on why I am so disinterested:
  1. None of my friends – as far as I am aware – use Twitter. Maybe the Midwest is just even slower than usual to catch on to this trend. Maybe once I know some people who use it, I'll start to follow them and I'll discover what all the fuss is about.
  2. The 140 character SMS format of Twitter does not seem significantly different from the short Facebook status update, which I already use.
  3. Most Twitter messages, like Facebook statuses, are extraordinarily uninteresting. (This is an assumption, since I've never actually read Twitter messages.)
  4. The 140 character format is too short for most limericks.
  5. If I want to peek into a celebrity's personal life, I'd much rather read a blog. And even if the celebrity in question has hired people to write their blog for them, they have probably done the same with Twitter, anyway.
It frightens me when I'm so disinterested in new technologies or internet trends, because it makes me seem like a cranky, out of touch old guy. Sometimes, though, you just have to take a stand against things that have no merit. If someone can explain the true merit of Twitter to me, I'd be happy to reconsider my position.

Crappy Poem of the Day #002

Weatherman is nuts.
Six to ten inches of snow?
Ha! Yeah, right. It's March.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Crappy Poem of the Day #001

I recently rediscovered the giddy pleasure of writing poems – hastily written, trivial, semi-nonsensical poems, to be more specific. I'm going to try to make it a daily feature on my blog. [I know, right?! "Le Suerg? Every DAY?! We'll see how long he keeps THIS up! Hmph!"]

Welcome to the first edition of "Crappy Poem of the Day".

There is a young blogger named Nicholas
Whose poetry is quite ridiculous.
His rhymes are a stretch,
His words make us retch,
And his meter is likely to pickle us.

Limericks are my current favorite form. Haikus will also be a regular. If you know of other very short poem forms, please let me know. Rhyming forms are preferred.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

TV 225 - Week No. 9

Okay, class. I've been doing my fair share of research. I just finished watching the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I know it was due twelve years ago, but I'm hoping I can still get half credit.

Now it's your turn to concentrate. Just give me ten minutes of your attention, please. In class today, we're going to watch a short video. It's from one of the best shows on television, though you've probably never heard of it, because it's a British show. It's called "Top Gear". I've watched the vast majority of the last twelve seasons. Yes, twelve. They're all brilliant. Please take out your pencils and copybooks, as you will be asked to take down notes during the program.

Click here to watch.


WAIT A SECOND, EVERYONE! YOU HAVE HOMEWORK! Episode 6 of Season 12 of Top Gear is available for free download on iTunes right now. Here. You must download and watch it before next Monday, March 30. (It will no longer be free after that.) Be prepared to discuss it in class!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

An art form I could do without... most of the time.

I am not really a fan of music videos. Most of the time, the only reason I post them here is because there are no decent websites from which to stream audio clips by themselves. (This infuriates me. Audio desperately needs its own version of YouTube.) Every once in a while, however, a music video really jumps out at me. I saw this one a few months ago on Adam’s blog, but was reminded of it today. It captures such an intense energy that you must be careful when watching it, lest it scorch your eyeballs or make you involuntarily dance so furiously that you spontaneously combust.

Gnarls Barkley – Going On

Here's one my brother really likes. Overall, it doesn't get me really fired up, but it is extraordinarily pretty to look at. Also, anything with Space Invaders earns some extra cool points.

Röyksopp РHappy Up Here

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Just had to post this freaking beautiful song. Heard it on the All Songs Considered SXSW Preview Show that I just got around to listening to today. Enjoy.

Passion Pit - Sleepyhead

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Malcolm Gladwell

I love Malcolm Gladwell. Some people say that his books, “The Tipping Point” and “Blink”, are vastly overrated and have done nothing but spawn a new series of corporate buzzwords. Maybe that’s true. I don’t know; I haven’t read them yet. All I know is that I love most everything of his that I have read (or listened to) to date (mostly his articles in The New Yorker).

Gladwell is a journalist who has a knack for finding remarkable social phenomena to write about, but that’s not what makes him truly great. What makes him great is his writing style. He takes one of these phenomena, gathers all of the expert research on it, studies it carefully, then writes about the research in a way that makes it fascinating: brief; full of anecdotes, examples, and personal reflections; and light on numbers and research method details. The solid research is all there but it’s hidden behind the curtain in his writing, because it is ugly and boring. Sure there are lots of people who try to do this sort of thing, but Malcolm Gladwell has a very real, intense curiosity that allows him to write about these academic subjects like he’s excitedly explaining them to a close friend who hasn’t the first clue about sociological research. His excitement makes you excited.

~ ~ ~

Most of you probably don’t care, and don’t want to take half an hour to read one of his New Yorker articles or listen to him talk about spaghetti sauce, but here’s some of his work for those of you who have been blessed with that most definitive of nerdy qualities: curiosity.

Most Likely to Succeed
A New Yorker article about finding the right person for any particular job, and how most recruiters are doing everything wrong. This is a subject that I’m actually pretty passionate about. The one issue I have with Gladwell is that sometimes it takes him too long to get to the point, but it’s impossible for me to edit this down in a few minutes without screwing it up, so just read it. It’s worth it.

What the Dog Saw
The first Gladwell article I ever read. It’s about Cesar Millan and body language. I actually started reading it because of the really cool headline photo, but as soon as I finished it, I thought, “Who the heck wrote this? That’s one of the most interesting magazine articles I’ve ever read.”

Malcolm Gladwell at The Moth
This is Gladwell telling a hilarious (probably exaggerated) story about his early days at The Washington Post. The Moth Podcast is a brilliant podcast of people telling (mostly) true stories live and without notes. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a link directly to Gladwell’s story, so you have to click on the link above (to a This American Life episode), then click the orange “Full Episode” link on the left, then fast forward to 45:15 for his story.

What We Can Learn From Spaghetti Sauce
First, a warning: Malcolm Gladwell is about the weirdest looking dude you’ve ever seen. This is a video of him speaking at TED about, well, spaghetti sauce, and why focus groups suck.

Million-Dollar Murray
I just read this one today. It's about how a very tiny fraction of the homeless population is chronically homeless. These very few people account for a huge portion of government health-care costs, and when these few people are given better housing, closer care, and constant supervision, they actually end up costing the system less money. Money is actually saved by giving these people constant care rather than fixing them up and sending them back into the street to get hurt again. I was reading this, thinking, "Yeah. This is so true. Why don't people do things this way?" when I realized, "Wait a second. This is exactly what God calls the church to do." He calls us to truly care for these people and to show mercy, not try to impose justice. When they tear up their rent-free apartment, get them a new one. For the few very worst cases, this really does seem to be the best approach. Read the article.