by Jo Slade - Story: 92072
May 20, 2013 / 5:00 am
May 20, 2013 / 5:00 am
My daughter, Heather, likes to torment me by sprinkling the following two terms throughout email messages:
When I reply to the emails, I carefully put a space between ‘for’ and ‘sure’ and ‘never’ and ‘mind’. This does not help, because she does this to be cruel, she does it to get me. And she does a pretty good job of it, too. It has backfired, though, because she occasionally forgets, and uses the terms non-ironically, which is highly embarrassing for her. And that’s good, it will teach her a damn good lesson for trying to be smart with her mother.
Unfortunately, being smart with each other runs in my family. Apparently, back in another lifetime or so, my uncle, while an engineer student, loved to mispronounce words for the sole pleasure of driving my grandmother, a stickler about such things, around-the-bend crazy. He succeeded, but he played the game too often, and one day mispronounced a word while in the company of his peers, who then jeered at him. Good. Payback = a mother.
That was my mother’s side. My father wasn’t as bad about messing with words, but he was no saint. When I was a teenager, he informed me that real Hawaiian people pronounce their state ‘Havaki’, not ‘Hawaii’. He was so serious about this that I believed him, and went forth to inform everybody else of this enlightening bit of information. To say they were incredulous of my news is an understatement. All I can say is, thank god we didn’t actually go to Hawaii. Or Havaki.
When Heather was little, at that endearingly impressionable age when a child believes everything their mother tells them (read: is a sap), I went on mispronouncement-sprees. Heather was too wise by then to believe me when I told her chocolate milk came from brown cows but she sure wasn’t savvy enough to realize that ‘pedesTEERian’ is not actually how you pronounce the word ‘pedestrian’. I was doing her a favour, letting her learn the hard-knocks way that a) kids can be cruel when you mispronounce words, so you should be careful not to do it, and b) parents can be real bastards. She got the lesson, alright. I can tell, because all these years later she is still mercilessly playing payback with the ‘neverminds’ and ‘forsures’.
Word-smartaleckiness can be achieved in so many ways. Mispronunciation of words, deliberate misspellings, creation of brand new words, like ‘smartaleckiness’ or ‘naggification’, it’s all good. Or bad, depending on whether you get caught doing it in the wrong place, wrong time.
“Hello 9-1-1? We have an EEmerGENcy here. You need to come, quick, like a bunNEE.”
“I’m sorry, ma’am, did you say, ‘EEmerGENcy’? Could you repeat that, please?”
“It’s an EEmerGENcy . . . umm, you know, like a CATastroPHEE. We need an amBULEance. A pedesTEERian has been manGELLED by an auTOEMObile. It is kind of ridiCULEous that you haven’t already sent an ENtir squaDRON of EEmerGENcy vehiCULiar DEEVices by now.”
“HEY, now hold on there, are you makin’ fun of me?”
“Oh no way, honey . . . ain’t nobody got time for dat.”
by Jo Slade - Story: 91307
May 6, 2013 / 5:00 am
May 6, 2013 / 5:00 am
The group description reads: “A low place where seedy people can hang out with their minds untucked.” And I have to say, I’m the one who created the group.
While I jest about the members not being decent, they are, in fact, just regular people, and reasonably decent (except maybe for the one who gets snow year-round, what kind of person lives in a place where it snows all year?). But why would decent people - even just reasonably decent people - want to hang out in a place where rude and state-of-the-art inappropriate comments are allowed? Worse, where such comments are pretty much required, by an unwritten minds-untucked rule?
Who knows. I just go there for the laughs, some easy . . . some uneasy.
The group was initially formed to allow myself and a handful of friends the freedom to post political/religious comments/cartoons/etc. among like-minded people. It has long since morphed to be many other - and much seedier - things, with one common factor in everything posted: It’s all bad. Really bad. Bad language, bad cartoons, bad-bad. Good people, bad minds. And it only works as well as it does because everybody in there has agreed not to be offended, or at least not to announce to the group that they are offended. I’ve had to bite my tongue (or rather, bite my typing finger) so often that there’s little left to bite. I’ve had to run away screaming like a little girl, I’ve wanted to pour bleach into my eyes to take away the images I’ve seen. On the other hand, I can stand on my own two feet in there. I give as good as I get.
Now, some people post this kind of stuff on their walls, but that’s not a good fit for me. It isn’t about being ashamed, it’s about respecting the feelings of my Facebook friends who would be mortified by such things. So, the way I have it set up, I have a nice civilized wall for when I’m very very good, and a godforsaken little group-from-hell for when I’m very very bad. It’s like having a little pocket devil, there for the asking whenever life gets too serious, too prim, too anything.
Still, the question remains, who would want such a place? The Internet is crawling with inappropriate stuff, one hardly needs to concentrate it into one small but toxic area. I think the answer is, in part, that most people do have reasonably bad minds, they just keep them tucked away under a socially-accepted veneer of civility and good manners. So, the easy answer is, it’s nice to have a place where things are looser, less restrictive, less politically correct. It’s the easy answer mainly because it’s not really the right answer, or at least not the entire answer.
Maybe being in a group lends validity to enjoying such things? Maybe, but I’ve never much worried about validating through others the sometimes dubious things I choose to do. Is my world made uglier for having this outlet, or is it a release for what is natural? The things I generally believe to be true suggest that yes, it kind of does make my world uglier, a place like that can only bring your better self down. Yet everything I feel when laughing myself silly in there says otherwise. It’s good to laugh. In this crazy world turned upside down and beset by troubles that seem only to go from bad to worse, it just feels good to laugh whatever way you can.
Am I uncomfortable with having - and enjoying - a private group of overwhelming rowdy badness and blatant inappropriateness? At times, yes. Would I change it? Not for the world.
by Jo Slade - Story: 90616
Apr 22, 2013 / 5:00 am
Apr 22, 2013 / 5:00 am
It’s sad but it’s true: I sometimes swear like a trooper, or maybe it’s more like a sailor. In fact, I could make a sailor blush with the colourful words I use, and sometimes do make a sailor blush (Jim being an ex-sailor). And worse, I enjoy the hell out of it. Saying swear words aloud is relatively rare for me, I prefer to type them (and I do, often and with glee), but I always appreciate an occasional well-turned creative volley of foul language from my own pristine lips as well as from the lips and minds of others.
Still, I believed my mother for many years, feeling guilty when inappropriate words fell violently out of my mouth, more or less against my will. Thing is, when you’ve just stubbed your toe (**** my life), or the wrong person just got elected (**** NO!) or the right person just got elected (**** YEAH!), or the store is out of your favourite craft beer (**** me dead), well, you just don’t have time to come up with a better choice of words, especially when the bad ones are right there on the tip of your tongue. Why on earth would you want to swallow them for something decidedly less satisfying?
Cuisinically (there’s a word for you) speaking, if a regular sentence is like a cupcake, adding swear words is like adding a whack of delicious icing. Musically speaking, if a regular sentence is adagio, any swear words added will crank ‘er it up to energico levels. Revvingly speaking, if a regular sentence is a plain old Lada, a swear word can make it roar like a Harley-Davidson. And seriously speaking, if a regular sentence is as tender as a moonlit night full of stars while canoodling with your sweetie, a well-placed swear word can help by adding zombies.
Swear words are almost never used in the literal sense, of course. If someone says, “**** you”, my recommendation is, you should keep your pants on. Or if they suggest that you “eat ****” don’t do it, you’re not going to like it. If you do, you may get so upset that you respond with your own “**** you” at which point it becomes an endless loop of blue air until you both throw up your hands in despair and exhaustion. Hopefully with pants still in place and nothing untoward eaten.
Aside from interjections during stressful times, swear words often find their way into garden variety conversations. I don’t recommend this, it’s not as easy as it looks, and is a skill best left to the expert. “Hey, **** me dead, how the **** are ya, ya ****ing **** **** ************? My sweet ****, **** me blind, I’m ****ing goin’ down for a **** beer, wanna **** join me, ya **** ****?” You have to have moxie to pull off something like that, but if you really want to get into it, start slowly with something mild, like “Damn. Got beer?”
A surprising number of swear words contain just four letters, no one knows why. This has resulted in the term ‘four-letter words’ to refer to curse words. Yet ‘bloody’, mild now but once considered a swear word, has more than four letters, as do many other inappropriate words. When I was about seven, I used the word ‘bloody’ in what seemed at the time to be a terribly naughty joke. I remember it to this day. Hell, I tell it to this day. It was, in fact, my first of many thousands of terribly inappropriate jokes enjoyed over the years. And like virginity, you never forget your first.
Jean, Jean, made a machine,
Joe, Joe, made it go.
Art, Art, made a fart,
And blew the bloody thing apart.
It doesn't seem very inappropriate now, but at the time it sure was, excitingly so.
There are few hard and fast truths about swearing, but one is that somebody somewhere is in the process of being offended by the use of them. Some are only offended by **** but not by ****. For some, it’s the other way around. Religions swear (oh!) that swear words are an insult to their god(s) but I’m not sure why, there’s just no reason to think that a supreme being is sitting around with a Divine Dictionary Of Bad Words ready to send you to hell if you use any of them. “Hold on, someone just said “****” instead of “intercourse”, kill him and toss him into the fire.
Some nations are blessed with citizens who revel in creative cursing. The Irish practically invented the bad word, and they use it with such joi d’ vivre that it is almost music to the ears. The Scots are good at it, too, och aye. Other countries, not so much.
Some people don’t like women to swear, presumably because it is ‘unladylike’. There are several swear words I can think of in response to that. Mind you, I don’t swear in front of people who are going to be terribly bothered by it (oldies, prudies, fogeys, deeply religious people, kids, dogs) (yes, my dog hated it if I used the ‘f’ word, it was weird). In a strange way, I think it is an assault of sorts (albeit minor) on another person’s sensibilities to deliberately use words that will upset them. It’s too bad, because swear words should not have that much power.
There’s one all-time vilified swear word used to insult women. In my job as admin of the Castanet forums, I get called this word a lot in email. If a month goes by that I don’t get called it, I start to look down to see if the damn thing’s still there. The word is usually followed by a stream of the best they can dish out, which, if they only knew, is tame by what I can produce on a stubbed-toe day. At any rate, it’s just a word that describes a body part, nothing more, nothing less. And besides, people sometimes forget to consider the source when choosing to be offended.
So, why are some people offended by ‘bad’ language? Why does it bother certain people to hear women swear but not men? Why should kids not swear? Why are swear words a religious no-no? And in closing, the mother of all questions, will the Westboro Baptist Church picket me and wish death upon me after reading this column? And what words should I use to respond, if they do?
by Jo Slade - Story: 89981
Apr 8, 2013 / 5:00 am
Apr 8, 2013 / 5:00 am
I tend to think I’m crazy, but have come to realize that I have serious competition in that department. The Internet is chock-full of absolutely crazy people, along with equally crazy trends, notions, habits, ideas, scams, spams, and all the rest of it. The inhabitants of the Internet make me feel sane by comparison, which unnerves me because I have almost no experience feeling that way.
People don’t even ask you to consider their photo. No, they get right down to it and tell you to get the hell in there and vote for the damn thing so they can win the prize. And please don’t be slow about it, and don’t get it wrong. Do people even bother looking at the other photos in the collection, or do they just go in, vote, and get out fast because they feel just a bit uncomfortable? Can anybody with a clear conscience actually vote for a so-so picture after seeing a spectacular picture that really deserves to win? Or have ‘clear consciences’ become too passé?
I’ve heard the argument that ‘everybody else does it, so it is the only way you can win’. My question would be: So why would you want to enter a contest that is rigged?
When I’m hit with a request to vote, I always go to the page sent to me, look through the photos, and vote for the photo that is, in my view, the best one. And if the best one is my friend's photo, I'll vote for it. Isn't that the way it should work?
Photos aren’t all, though. Awhile back, I was asked to vote! vote! vote! for an ailing person to win a chance to meet an American celebrity. Easy to ignore, except that in the middle of the heart-rending angst-filled pleas to please please please vote for a total stranger, people started to complain about corruption in the voting process because someone else had - gasp - used an online voting generator to get votes. How dishonest can you get, people asked. Those same people did not, however, see a problem with using a ‘manual’ online voting generator along with some good old-fashioned guilt-trips.
Used to be that Facebook was all about posting mind-numbingly boring updates on what people were eating for lunch or how their digestive system was running that day, with a few random lolcats thrown in for good measure.. I vilified it back then, but now miss those days, because on today’s Facebook you hardly ever see a personal update or lolcat because they have been smothered under a big steaming pile of angst and sorrow and over-stated political drama, along with endless requests to click ‘like’ or ‘share’ to ‘show awareness’, presumably for the two people in the entire world who are not already aware of whatever is the problem d’jour. ‘Make someone feel pretty’, or ‘show that you hate cancer’, or ‘stop bullying’, or ‘convince someone’s daddy to buy a puppy’, or ‘don’t like animal abuse’. The people who do click ‘like’ have done their social duty. They have reached for the mouse, clicked ‘like’ and ‘raised awareness’, And they know that you, because you did not click ‘like’ or ‘share’, do actually like cancer (and other diseases), like animal torture, like racism, like child abuse, like bullying, and are generally a wicked person.
Of course, sometimes the item to be liked is fake. And by ‘sometimes’ I mean a whole lot of the time. For example, there was a photo circulating for awhile of a little girl. The caption read: “This is my sister Mallory. She has Down syndrome and doesn’t think she’s beautiful. Please like this photo so I can show her later that she truly is beautiful.” How real . . . except for one small detail. It is not real. The photo was stolen, renamed, and used to farm ‘likes’ (and did, in fact, receive almost a million likes). The part I find hardest to understand is that people, when told such things are fake, will declare that it 'doesn't matter' because the 'thought is nice'. Really? We've come to a point where BS is okay as long as it is pretty BS?
To sum up the craziness, here is Bill Gates (230,000 crazy people shared this):
I want my old Facebook back. I want to know what everybody had for lunch. And was it agreeable? Got gas? Oh, how can we ever get back to those good old days?
What is the answer?
Penguins. It always comes down to penguins.
Read more Old as dirt. Twice as gritty. articles
The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.
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For more stories from Jo, please visit the Old as Dirt. Twice as Gritty. archive
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