Sunday, April 30, 2006

Non-Issue of the Week: "The Star-Spangled Banner"

Real inabilities aside, the American president isn't going to hoist himself out of the abysmal 32% approval rating into which he's managed to sink if he doesn't stop taking idiotic positions on non-issues.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Piss Me Off: Double Copula

I just noticed that my blog doesn't have any lists of things that piss me off. I can't really call myself a blogger without such material. So, for all you people out there who have been thinking, "If only I could make Jesse angry..." I've started this feature called Piss Me Off. And, because I'm an English teacher, it makes sense that my first Piss Me Off is linguistic in nature.

The Double Copula (AKA The Double "Is")

I don't mind teaching my students a few non-words here and there. Bling. Crunk. Blogosphere. Idiotic as these words are, I give them a fair shake. If I am asked about such words, I answer objectively and without any (visible) disdain. Such is my attitude toward the inevitable corruption and re-corruption of English; it's not pretty, but what can you do?

There is one alarming trend, however, that I will not allow to overtake the English language without a fight. It is the "double copula," whereby one uses two successive "be" verbs where only one is necessary.

As if "the thing is" wasn't already the dumbest possible way to begin a sentence, somebody went that extra mile to make it even dumber. Somewhere in the recent evolution of American English, it was decided that "the thing is" should be treated, not as a subject and verb (which it is), but just as a subject (which it is not). After deciding that "the thing is" can be classified as a noun, it became necessary to add another "is" after it when forming a sentence.

Correct: "The thing is that I'm allergic to mustard."

Incorrect: "The thing is, is that I'm allergic to mustard."

What the Christ?: "The thing is, was that I was allergic to mustard when I was a kid."

Don't ask me why people talk like this. It's ridiculous, both by virtue of the nature of the error and the amazing rate at which it happens. I even hear radio and TV personalities whose job is to speak English making this error.

The double copula is a symptom of the very same stupidity that will ultimately end humanity forever. If you start sentences with "the thing is, is," then the thing is, is, is, is, you are dead to me.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

What's With Earthquakes These Days?

There has been a noticeable earthquake in Tokyo every day for the past week. I don't know whether I should be relieved (lots of small earthquakes means less chance of a big one, right?) or nervous (lots of small earthquakes means WE ARE DOOMED, right?). As if to punctuate the phenomenon with an extra-heavy bullet point, there was a sudden tremor no more than five seconds after I had the idea to write about earthquakes, just minutes ago.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Let's Learn Japanese: Otsukaresama

(Spoken to co-workers when they leave the office at the end of the day. Means something like, "You must be tired.")

He goes by many names...not the most insulting of which is "Puffy McMoonface." Just don't call him Press Secretary, because Scott McClellan is done! Stick a fork in him. He's beginning to smell delicious.

After nearly three years of lying, stuttering and laying his finger aside his nose, McClellan is resigning from the White House Press Office. But his classic one-liners, ranging from "I can't comment on that ongoing investigation" to "I've already answered your question," will outlive us all. Take heart, friends. We still have the worst leadership in American history, but at least now we are Scott-free.

[the story]

Friday, April 14, 2006

Portrait of a Badass: Casey

Character: Casey Brown
Actor: Jodie Foster
Film: Candleshoe (1977)
Badass Moment: In her first five minutes onscreen Casey Brown goes on an unstoppable rampage, stealing a basketball, throwing a banana peel into a mailbox AND deliberately knocking over a 50-gallon barrel of machine oil.


Back in the days before I started viewing The Walt Disney Company as a threat to humanity, my sister and I really used to like this Disney movie called Candleshoe. It's a cookie cutter family film about a juvenile delinquent (Jodie Foster) who is recruited by a con man to infiltrate the estate of Lady St. Edmund ("What a shack!") in order to discover the location of a buried treasure. And then she comes to love the patsies she's meant to be defrauding, becomes a "real member of the family," blah blah blah, The End. It would be a very unmemorable film, if not for the fact that I watched it something like 75 times as a child.

Candleshoe does, however, deserve credit for giving Jodie Foster the skills (or skillz, if I may) she would later need to track down Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs, scare Forrest Whitacre out of her house in Panic Room and complain endlessly to stewardesses in Flight Plan. It should also be noted that, like so many other live-action Disney films of the era, Candleshoe culminates in a final battle royale of slapstick chaos. See also Babes In Toyland and Swiss Family Robinson, two more mediocre movies that rest on the strength of their climactic goodguy-vs-badguy showdowns.

Casey Brown, you are a badass. Quid pro quo, Casey Brown.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Spring Has Sloshed

Haru ga kita, haru ga kita!
Doko ni kita?

Despite the unfortunate meteorological conspiracy to prevent me from doing my Big Walk, I did take advantage of this season's photogenic sakura trees as best I could. For example, here's a closeup from the nicest tree in my neighborhood, at the top of the hill leading down to Shimokitazawa:

Hmm. Admittedly very similar to a few of the pictures I took last year. Well, if that picture doesn't make you want to drink yourself unconscious in a public park, try these shots from last Saturday's trip to Inokashira Park in Kichijoji. El vino did flow (and so did el Esmirnov Ice):

The last picture is of a sign that reads, "Gomi wa omochikaeri wo!" ("Take your trash with you!") Seconds after I snapped this one, a young man walked up and drunkenly sang, "Gomi wa omochikaeri wo... bye-bye!" and then hurled his own trashbag onto the pile.

Inokashira Park is famous as a top picnic spot and potential "problem area" during hanami season. The crowds, the garbage, the noise, the police...spring is in the air!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Big Wash-Out

The Big Walk did not happen as scheduled, due to bad weather. Doubly disappointing is the fact that the same wind and rain that caused me to cancel/postpone the Big Walk is, at this very moment, blasting the sakura petals off the trees, effectively ruining any further chances for a cherry blossom photography walk this year. The good news is that Girlfriend and I went to Inokashira Park in Kichijoji last night for a hanami picnic and I got a handful of half decent (and half inebriated) cherry blossom photos there. Those photos will be posted on this blog when they're good and ready.

I will probably do a Big Walk later this spring, although it won't have anything to do with cherry blossoms.