Can I have your opinion….part 2

I had fun asking your opinion last week….so here’s another one:

What’s worse:

1) that my daughter called from college to ask me where her gloves are (in her dorm)

Or

2) That I actually knew the location of her gloves (in her dorm)

Where you from?

My Husband and I recently attended parent’s weekend at my daughters college. We took my daughter out for non-dorm meals, went to a concert at the Kennedy Center, and attended a collegiate football game. As we sat in the stands, the man behind my husband said to him

“You from Brooklyn?

After my husband replied yes, they played the six degrees of Brooklyn thing- which high school, which deli, which bowling alley, etc. At one point the guy said to him

“Look at us. Did you ever think guys like us would have kids at a school like this?”

When we ran into him at the elevator of our hotel the next morning (right? what are the chances?) he said to me “How did you guys meet? You’re certainly not from the neighborhood?”

To answer that question, my husband and I actually met on a tennis court. I am not as well educated as my husband, but I have a pretty flat accent that screams Northeast quadrant, but can’t actually be placed.  My husband has two graduate degrees, and is an executive in a large company. But he still looks and sounds like the blue collar neighborhood that he grew up in.

So….

Do we make judgements about people based on their regional accent and dialect?

When I discussed grammar the other day, a few people responded that there is a certain bias towards certain areas of the country due to how they speak. People might hear a thick Southern accent and think something along the lines of, OMG, is that banjo’s I hear? If you ever watched “Gilligan’s Island”  you probably remember the ‘Locust Valley Lockjaw’ way that the Howell’s spoke, and assumed that was the tone of the rich. My friend hated “Green Book” because she couldn’t stand the accent that Viggo Mortenson used because it made him sound classless.

What about the American love of British accents? There was an episode of “Frasier” where Roz meets Daphne’s brother. (Daphne is British). Roz exclaims “Doesn’t he sound so classy?” because of the accent, even though the content of his exchange is anything but.  I know I hear a British accent and I swoon and assume whatever they’re selling is better than what I have…

I grew up on Lon Gisland, a suburb of New York City. Many of you know it as Long Island, but you wouldn’t know that from the way many of us speak. I admit, I have spent years taming my accent so that I would not immediately sound as if I grew up going to the Roosevelt Field Mall…

Are we elitist towards certain groups of people based solely on the way that they speak? Do we think the regional accent of some is superior or inferior to our own?

What Kind of Phone You Have?

I don’t own an iPhone.

I use….a droid.

I know- What kind of loser am I?

When I am at a store famous for texting 20% off coupons, I have had clerks mock me because it takes me longer to pull up the coupon from my phone. They snicker because it’s slightly more difficult to scan the barcode. Once a clerk whispered to her co worker that I must really need that 20% off….

Here’s another secret….my Mother……she uses a flip phone.

Can you imagine?

My Mother is the recipient of all sorts of digs. People assume she’s stupid, or poor, because she hasn’t succumb to the smart phone generation. They don’t understand how she doesn’t want her apps and her email at the ready. Is she a Neanderthal? A luddite? Even I have thrown the occasional dig at her because I want to be able to text her pictures forward her articles, tickets and such and I am unable to do that. I have accused her of being stuck in another era…

When my daughter first got a phone, there was no such animal as a smartphone. It was easy back in the day to get your kid a phone, because you went to the store and bought the cheapest one they had. Then- smart phone. A whole new way to make kids feel bad about themselves, and compare themselves to others.

What does a kid without an iphone do now? How do they feel on a daily basis? One of my daughter’s best friends did not have a smart phone while he was in middle school. He just didn’t care that he got taunted every day. But then he got to High School, and even he bought into the smart phone culture. By the end of September Freshman year, he was the proud owner of an iPhone.

So what is your stand on smart phones?

Do you or anyone you know not own a cell phone? About fifteen years ago, my Husband did not have a cell phone. His boss actually stated that he needed to get one so he could be reached throughout the day…remember, my Husband is a CFO/accountant type…it’s not like he’s saving lives…

Do you own a smartphone?

iPhone?

Droid?

Do you feel inferior if you don’t have the latest and greatest cellular device?

Have you ever inadvertently made someone else feel bad because they are behind the cellular times?

Smart phones are not cheap, nor are the plans. But do we live in a world that now almost demands the ownership of a cell phone? Some venues in NYC have switched to virtual tickets only. Some NYC subways are currently testing the use of scanning your cell phone in order to pay your subway fare. While I don’t “need” my cell on a daily basis, it sure helps…

Is the reliance on smart phones and their assorted technology elitist?

Are we making people pay for something that they shouldn’t “need” to get on with their lives?

 

 

 

 

 

TV- Is it Still For the Masses

I remember a time when there was a certain group of people prided themselves on the fact that they watched no TV, other than the McNeil/Lehrer news report on PBS, and occasionally something else on that same channel. Television was known as the boob tube, was apparently for the hoi polloi. Anyone with substance did not admit to watching TV. They had little sets tucked away in corners, and owners were secretly proud that they gathered dust.

Last week when I entered my apartment building, a delivery was being made. Someone in my building had bought what appeared to be an 80 inch screen. My 70’s era building is not known for its spacious interiors, and this particular TV was about to land in a studio apartment. I whispered conspiratorially to my doorman- “Is there a wall big enough to hold that thing?”

Television is having a moment.

As I find myself watching less TV, I find that others are watching more. Admittedly, there are so many options out there now. Not only do we have cable stations with 500+ channels, there are satellite providers and streaming services. And it seems as if literally anyone can produce a television show, and people will watch it.

Currently my home makes use of cable, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. Oddly, we get Prime more for the free shipping: the extra shows are just a bonus. I admit to using the free option on BritBox, and I know my daughter is going to make use of the Hulu free option in December, but as of now, I am refusing to add another pay option. I was sorely tested recently when I saw the ads for “The Morning Show” a new program starring Jennifer Anniston, Reese Witherspoon ad Steve Carrell that is going to make its debut on AppleTV. I really was intrigued by that show until I saw the reviews, and all I can say is “Whew- dodged a bullet there”.

So in a world where home viewing systems are often more elaborate than what is in theaters, and there are now myriad options to watch televised programming, has TV become elitist?

I have had friends say to me- “How could you not watch ‘Game of Thrones’ or ‘Breaking Bad’?” What do you mean you don’t get HBO? You don’t watch Blue Bloods- well what do you do on Friday nights?” “You must be the only person in America who doesn’t watch X”.

Have people become entirely engrossed in the television industry to the point they can’t imagine that someone DOESN’T watch certain shows?

Or pay for a variety of channels?

Or own a huge TV set?  I do freely admit to owning a large set- maybe 55 inches- but the sheer fact that I don’t know the size, or that I don’t have surround sound, or that I don’t have a set in my bedroom is enough to make people look at me aghast.

Let’s think about the cost. Though sets have come down in price, they’re still not cheap. Plus you have all the accessories. Cable or internet provider. Streaming service. Pay for individual stations.

How much money does it cost the average person to watch TV?

Can the average person afford to watch TV?

Are people who don’t watch particular shows mocked for not being with the times?

Has TV become the pastime of the elite instead of the opiate of the masses?

What do we really think about television?

Grammar- Art Thou Elitist?

I recently read a book titled “The Grammarians”. I’m about to discuss why this book has me thinking, so there are bound to be spoilers. Spoilers is probably not the optimum word as the book really has no plot, so I wouldn’t be spoiling much….

In a nutshell, the book is about two sisters who share a love for words and grammar. One sister ends up writing a grammar column for a major newspaper, while the other one is a teacher…until she isn’t. At one point, the teacher begins research basically stating that grammar is elitist.

You get where I’m going with this?

Is there a case to be made that proper grammar is elitest?

I realize grammar is “the rules” but in a world where rules seem to be “for someone else”, that the rules which we hold written etiquette are outdated?

For the moment let’s dispense with punctuation rules. We all know that we need a certain amount of punctuation to make sure intent is clear. Let’s eat Grandma is way different than Let’s eat, Grandma. So basic, clarifying punctuation is necessary.

Does it matter if your participles dangle?

You know I play by my own grammar rules. I’m sure there are people who will not read my blog because of that. I don’t really care: not in a snobbish way, but in a “I write for me” way. As one of my IRL friends states, “When I read your blog, I picture you. You write exactly as you sound when we’re having a conversation.” Honestly- that is my goal. I see blogging as a conversation tool- I feel the point is to communicate with one another. When I’m speaking to my someone, I want the ideas to matter, the meat of what I’m saying. I want to have fun with words, deliver them in a fresh and playful way. To be a slave to the rules of grammar would take away the fun…

But back to the main point.

If you read/listen to someone with poor grammar, do you make a snap judgement about what sort of person they are? Their education? Their socioeconomic status? Their intelligence?

Do you think I’m uneducated because I am not a grammarian? Poor? Slovenly?

Do you judge the grammar of all equally, or are you more harsh with some groups?

Are you a grammar snob?

When my daughter was in public school she was obviously taught to write. And in those beginning days, kids were told to just put something on the page. Spelling didn’t matter. Punctuation didn’t matter. Grammar wasn’t even a thought. The idea was to get them excited about writing their ideas down on the page. As she went through school, grammar was still secondary. Of course, she copiously studied the rules of grammar for standardized tests: but that was all about the score.

SAT.

ACT.

The mark of whether or not you get into college.

Recently, there was a thought that there should be a socio economic indicator to the standardized testing process, because those of a lower economic class generally do not do as well on these tests. Was this a thinly veiled way of saying that grammar is a tool of the upper middle classes?

Some schools have dispensed with standardized test requirements. The mark of intelligence does not lie in a number. I firmly believe this. But as the ELA part of the test is more difficult, largely due to the grammar component, are these colleges inadvertently saying that grammar doesn’t matter?

Does equality mean we all need to speak in the same vernacular?

Are the rules of grammar, as they stand now, archaic?

Discuss.

 

Book Review: The Grammarians

I’ve been thinking about doing book reviews, so I thought about trying one out today. What do you think of the format? It’s a work in progress. The sectional ratings are out of 10.

The Grammarians    by  Cathleen Schine

Sarah Crichton Books      Farrar, Strauss and Giroux   New York   2019

Synopsis- The lives of  highly intelligent, identical twin girls who tend towards the pedantic. We see their story played out via the help of an archaic dictionary that their doting father brought them home as a gift. The novel takes place in the second half of the twentieth century in New York City and its surrounding suburbs. It would be classified as General Fiction.

The Ratings

Characters- The main characters in this book are not likable. They come off as rude, condescending and boring. If you want characters that you root for, this book is NOT for you. Rating: 4

Plot- There is really no plotline. We see the girls grow up, and while there is a climax of sort, it’s mainly underplayed. You do not wonder what will happen, you wonder if anything ever will happen. If you are plot focused, this book is not for you. Rating: 5

Setting- While there is some colorful New York City in the seventies/eighties references, this is not a lush narrative wherein the location makes the book move along. It could really take place in any urban area with suburbs. If you like highly descriptive novels, this is not for you. Rating: 4

Language- This is the strength of the book. As one would expect with a book titled grammarians, words, and the way that they are used are extremely important. Every section (there are no actual chapters) begins with a word and its archaic definition. There is a clever way that the author makes us look at the word, and the duality of meanings that some words have. If you are entranced by words, you might give this a try. Rating: 8

Structure- The novel is fairly straightforward and in chronological order. It is told third person omniscient, which is a good structure for the novel because we get a peak into each sisters thoughts independently. The novel lacks depth in certain areas, because there are entire parts of their lives that are skipped over. If you want to know EVERYTHING about the characters, it will leave you yearning for more information. While you often get a peak into their souls, there is not much background. Much is left for the reader to imagine or assume what happened. Unfortunately, the reader may not care what the characters are thinking. Rating: 5

Readability- As one could imagine, a book that lacks plot, setting and likable characters is sometimes difficult to get through. If you do not like clever word play and an almost essay like structure, you may have difficulty getting through it. Because of this, I found that I could only read a section or two at a time. There is not an immediate draw to pick up this book and read it. Though only 200 e reader pages, it often seems longer. If you want a page turned, not for you. Rating: 3

Message- This book made me think. While the traditional things on which we base a book are lacking, I still thought that reading this book was a worthwhile experience. There are underlying themes and messages in this book that are highly discussable, and relevant in todays world. After reading the book I was captivated by the thought of what is language, and what does it mean in the greater context of our culture. I will continue to think about this book for awhile, no matter what its shortcomings were, because I think its broader message is that important. Rating: 10

Overall Score: 39/70, which for today we will equate to 3 out of 5 stars.

There are many things wrong with this novel, but at the end of the day I’m glad that I read it. As always, open for discussion with anyone that has read it.

 

 

 

The reason

Yesterday I asked if this was a bag of candy or a bag of chocolate:

But to give you the reason, let’s step back in time:

Friday- I made a Target run, where I bought several household items and the above bag of Halloween treats. When I got home, I was too lazy to get the step stool out to put the treats on the shelf in the cabinet so I sort of tossed it up and hoped for the best.

Saturday morning- I enter the kitchen and see the above mentioned bag on the kitchen counter. The conversation is as follows, as the bag remained unopened.

Me: Did the bag of candy fall out of the cabinet when you opened it?

Husband: What?

Me: The bag of candy that’s on the counter. Did it fall out of the cabinet?

Husband: No

I scratch my head, wondering if I’m indeed having a senior moment and just didn’t put the candy away yesterday. I’m thinking back to if the bag was on the counter when I made dinner the night before. FYI- I have almost no counter space, so I’d really need to question my sanity if I didn’t remember.

I toss the bag on the dining room table.

Husband: Yeah. That fell out of cabinet when I opened it

Me: But I just asked you if candy bag fell out

Husband: it’s a bag of chocolate

Semantics argument ensues.

Husband: you’re the only one that calls that a bag of candy

Me: Challenge Accepted

And then you know the rest…..

Thank you to all who participated in my survey. Candy was the predominant answer, though my favorite answer was “dinner”.

Stay Away from My Mommy

Many of the parents of my friends have hit the senior dating circuit of late, either do to death or divorce. In most instances, this means the children are grown and flown, and are not really a part of their parents everyday lives. You would think that this makes relationships easier- let’s face it- your adult children shouldn’t have anything to say about your new relationship- should they?

Yet

When I think to my friends and acquaintances, none of them are taking too keenly to their parents new “friends”. In fact, I’d say they are quite vocal about their displeasure.

One of my friends had parents who divorced after about forty years of marriage. The father began dating within a few months. (you know what they say- after 65 if you can drive at night and have your own teeth and are male, you’re a catch) The mother did not find a partner that quickly. The kids were totally annoyed with their father and refused to meet the new girlfriend. To be clear, this wasn’t someone he’d had a affair with- he met her after he’d moved out of the house. The kids didn’t like her because they chose to “side” with their mother, because they didn’t want to see her hurt. It didn’t help that the mother would call them up hysterical and tell them to never speak to their father again….

Many of the people I know have a problem with their parents mates for the most basic reason of all: money. This is especially true in the case of the widowed. They’re worried that their parents are going to leave the estate to their new partner, or spend it before it can be even left. Some kids have factored in their parents wealth into their own long term plans. If new partner A spends a hundred thousand redecorating the parents house, how much is left for me? While you can make a case that the child is trying to protect the parent from a gold digger, is it always the case? Should you be counting your parents chickens before they hatch?

I know of one scenario where the man must leave his house when his girlfriend”s son comes over. The son does not approve of the boyfriend and refuses to be in the same room as him, and this extends to more than just Sunday lunches: the man does not spend any holidays with his girlfriend because of the dynamic between son and boyfriend.

Of course, some kids simply do not wish to see their parent “replaced”. I understand this- your father had a certain chair at the table- you don’t want to see anyone else occupy it. Your mother made the apple pie at Thanksgiving- you don’t like the idea of someone else having that responsibility. But it is fair to your surviving parent?

We all grew up worrying about what our parents would think of our mates/partners/spouses. Sometimes we listened to their gut feelings that something just wasn’t right. But  the tables have turned. Do we, as  grown children, have the right to interfere with our adult parents and their choice of new mate? Does our opinion matter?

What About the Kids

We’ve discussed asking parental permission to wed. But as Laura pointed out, how important is it to ask the children of your intended for permission to marry their parent?

Many have seen the commercial (I can only assume it’s for rings) where you see a serious faced man asking the question- May I marry her- and then the camera pans to a little boy, who shakes his head up and down.

But what if the kid were to shake their head side to side?

How important is it for a potential stepparent to get along with their stepkids?

How many relationships are ruined or complicated by the step dynamic?

If you’ve ever watched “This is Us”, you know that the adult Kevin character has issues with his stepdad, even though his Mother didn’t remarry till she was older, and my all accounts, the stepdad is a great guy and loves the Mom. I’m betting, that if he’d been asked, Kevin would have stood on the mountain top screaming “Hell No. You are not marrying my Mother.” But this is a TV show.

What happens in real life?

What if your kids don’t like the person you want to marry?

Do you still marry them?

I know that there are many cases of step parents and step kids having amazing relationships. On a Father’s Day episode of The Chew, chef Michael Symon’s stepson made a speech about him that was so endearing and explained the biology doesn’t matter part so beautifully that everyone was crying. Recently, a college football player legally changed his name to reflect that of his stepfather and showed his stepdad the new jersey with the new name printed on the back. Cue the tears.

But do we hear about these moments because they are rare?

If your kids don’t like the person you want to marry, do you do it anyway?

How important is it for you kids to like your intended spouse?