Friday, November 30, 2007

Oh, Tenenbaum!

The day before Thanksgiving, I bought a Christmas tree. A pre-lit fake tree from Target. I've never had my own Christmas tree. Last year, one of my roommates duct-taped some Christmas lights around the front door and top of our sliding door, but that's about as much decoration as I've had before now. So as you can imagine, I was very excited.

Well, I got the tree with my sister and had to leave it at her place. I planned on getting it on Thanksgiving day when I went back to her house for Thanksgiving dinner. Then I ended up taking chairs and a table back to my mom's house, so I didn't have room to put it in my car. Then I was going to get it on Monday, but it snowed. Then Tuesday, I went to the TSO concert (thanks so much, Jenni! It was freakin' awesome. I'll post about that later). So I got it from my sister's on Wednesday, but went to dinner with some friends. I told myself not to forget to take it out of the trunk so I could put it up the next day, and the bulbs wouldn't break in the freezing cold outside. As you might guess, I did forget it and left it in the trunk and didn't realize it until later at work. When I got home Thursday, I took the tree out of the trunk and wanted to make sure I got the thing put up before going to laser tag for a friend's birthday (another post for a different day).

I have to say, I'm getting excited for Christmas! The TSO concert really got me in the mood, and now I have a Christmas tree!!! As you can see from the pictures (one with the light on, one with the light off), it doesn't have any ornaments or decoration just yet, but that's coming. Two of my wonderful sisters offered to decorate my tree for Christmas. I think it's their way of giving me that family Christmas feel, since I'm one of the last single folks left in the family.

So merry Christmas!

P.S. I know I've been slacking on the posting... I might have a bunch more in a row the next few days.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

For your surfing pleasure...

I waste way too much time on the internet. And I'm hoping to drag you all down with me! Here are some fun sites I visit basically to waste time. I'll give the website and how I found it.

Homestarrunner and Strong Bad Emails. I'm not sure the exact person that introduced me to this wonderful site, but it's a good time! I'm pretty sure it was at USU. I also got my favorite grammar song from this site. "OOOHHH, if you want it to be possessive, it's just I-T-S, but if it's supposed to be a contraction, then it's I-T-apostrophe-S! ...scallywag." Thanks, Strongbad!

Angry Alien - 30 Second Bunny Theater. This site is awesome. I can't remember where I found this one either, and I'm not sure if I found it at SUU or USU, but here ya go. Haven't you always wanted to see bunnies re-enact movies in 30 seconds? Well, now there's a website and on-demand cable channel that will let you realize that dream!

Happy Tree Friends. Definitely not for the faint of heart. This cartoon features cute little forest animals that end up in very sad, very gory situations. Brains, blood, guts, and other cartoon violence, not suitable for young audiences. But it's heck of funny. Mark introduced me to these guys at USU. The short entitled "Eye Candy" is one of my favorites. As is "Class Act." Enjoy!

The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks. Pretty self explanatory. Robin introduced me to this one, when she created a blog post with a few of the pictures featured on that site.

I can has cheezburger? I'm almost ashamed to admit this one, because guys shouldn't think pictures of cats are funny. But this is a great site. I found this one as a link on Jeni's blog. This site was inspired by the photo to the left there, and people have been sending in pictures of their cats and other animals with funny captions ever since.

PostSecret. This one is very interesting. The guy who runs the site, named Frank, describes it as " ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard." This one I found on Carona's blog. I'm intrigued by the idea behind it. This guy have even written a few books that have all these secrets that he gets. He goes on tours and talks about the rhetoric of secrets, why we keep them, and what it can mean to people to finally share them. It's very interesting. The guy posts new images of postcards he gets every Sunday. Some people email him with a few comments now and then, and some of those are posted, too.

Big-Bunny. This one was introduced to me by my friend Hollie. Big Bunny is a giant pink bunny that lives in the forest and likes to tell stories. He has a very deep voice, has trouble using contractions, and uses adjectives like tasty, crunchy, and delicious when describing animals and children. Three friends found him when going into the forest to find their dog that ran away. Not surprisingly, they never found the dog and Big Bunny said he had never seen the "fluffy, crunchy puppy." There's only 7 cartoons, but they're pretty good. My favorite is episode 5 when Big Bunny tells a story about a red squirrel. Big Bunny's creator also made a site called Muffin Films and Making Fiends. Both are pretty awesome. (And Robin has a link to Making Fiends on her blog. Excellent taste, Robin!)

Toothpaste for Dinner. I found this one on my own, surfing the web. Funny stick-like cartoon guys. Sometimes they say naughty words, so don't say I didn't warn ya.

And that's it. Or better said, that is where I am going to stop because this is entirely too long and I'm starting to realize I need some human contact... So what fun sites do you visit? Where do you go to kill time when sitting in front of your computer?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Grammarian or linguist: my internal struggle

Now, right off the bat I know will probably make some people mad, and some of you will even try to find spelling errors and grammar mistakes in this and previous posts; but I'm going to do this anyway. Here is my obligatory post about the improper use of the English language, seeing as I am an English major/degree holder.

First, let me talk about pronunciation and correct word usage. There are some things that really drive me crazy when they are pronounced incorrectly. a few key examples include the following:ex-pecially, Feb-you-ary, ec cetera, supos-eb-ly, and many more. (The correct pronunciation, by the way, is es-pecially, Feb-ru-ary, et cetera, and supos-ed-ly.) I don't usually say anything, but I do cringe a little inside when I hear those words pronounced so heinously. But then, as you may well know, I am imperfect and flawed... I'll get to that a little later...

Next is the improper use of words, or making words up for your own use when you can't think of the right word. Some of these I will point out to people when they say them; others aren't worth the fight. First, irregardless is NOT a word. This one, I'm willing to fight. Sure, your spell check may be ok with it, and it can be found in dictionaries these days, but it is NOT a word. Most of the time, you just mean regardless. If you actually know how to use the prefix "ir", then you probably mean irrespective. That's right. Moving on.

Next, lets talk about "random." Those of you that knew me at Utah State will know about this one, and I'm sorry you have to hear about it again. Random does not mean what people who use it more than twice a day think it means. My favorite example (that actually happened) was spoken by a woman on her wedding day. She said to my roommate, "Isn't it so random that I got married today?!!?" (And yes, she said it with a question mark, two exclamation points, and another question mark.) Nothing could be LESS random. She was asked by her boyfriend for her hand in marriage, they talked about it, planned the whole day, and when it came, they got married on that exact day. Things you plan 4 months in advance that happen exactly as scheduled are NOT random. Example two: "It's so random that I saw you today!" No, it isn't. It may be unexpected, but you traveling to your destination, and me traveling to mine, and then our paths happen to cross. This is not a random event. Example three: "I say random stuff all the time!" No, you don't. You say stupid stuff all the time and in the wrong context, but it isn't random. You've thought about it before you say it (or at least your brain has had the necessary chemical reactions to select words from your lexicon, blending them into dialog, and forcing your mouth, tongue, vocal chords, etc. to produce speech), and the words have come out. You may think it's random, but it's actually pretty calculated.

There are a few instances that may seem like "random" works just fine, but it usually doesn't. My good friend Haley came up with the cure to these situations: seemingly random. Take this example: "This random guy just walked into the room, took a book, then left." He really isn't some random guy. The book probably belongs to him and he came back to the room for it when he realized he left it there. But he is unknown to you and you are not familiar with him. He wasn't selected from the sum total of all males by a process which gives him an equal probability of showing up in the room as any other male, but it seems that way to you. His arrival is, therefore, seemingly random. And there you have it. The cure to the misuse of "random" by most of the general public. Bless you, Haley. In spite of how much I have to say about the misuse of the word, I'm usually pretty willing to just let it go. As you can see, it takes a while to explain it's proper use...

I think I've made my general point, but I'd like to point out a few other misuses of the English language. I have a friend (sorry Katey, I have to do it... but I didn't want to use your name, so I've kept it in parentheses so you can keep some degree of anonymity) who says, "It's so nervousing when that happens!" I have another friend who uses "and such" constantly and incorrectly. I ask, "How are you?" He responds, "I'm good and such." He says it just to sound cool intelligent. Can you say, "backfire"?

But I cannot be the judge and jury, or even the grammar police. There are words I say incorrectly and some of them by choice! I will say buh-tato instead of potato, or sa-winch, instead of sand-wich. I'm sure I have others. There are even words I try not to pronounce incorrectly, but often do anyway. Like mou-en instead of mountain. But I do my best to say mountain. And I'm notorious for excessive use of ellipses (the three dots after a sentence... like that). Additionally, I often end phrases with a dangling participle. For shame!

And here is my inner conflict: linguistics says this is all ok. Language evolves like any species, and the strongest (or most used) survive. Even incorrect pronunciations and invented words are ok. According to the linguist, if I say that squidlefin means a goldfish with one black spot on his pectoral fin, and someone else understands me when I say that, it is now a word. Only two people need to understand a word for it to enter the lexicon. It may leave the lexicon in a day or two, but such is the evolution of language.

If you've made it this far, thanks for sticking it out... So which is right? Are there rules we should follow, or does language get to do what it wants, willy nilly? Do you have any pet peeves as far as words, pronunciation, or grammar go? And if you see me in real life, ask me if I got that squiddlfin for a pet, and I'll give you five bucks for reading to the end this excessively long post about words.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

All things Halloween

Yes, I'm aware it's November.

Before I begin, thanks to Haley, Christy, and Katey for the use of the photos from their blogs... even if they didn't really give permission...

This Halloween was one of my favorites! If you didn't hear yet, I had an AWARD WINNING Wario costume, as seen below.

Thanks everyone for the suggestions and helping me come up with it!

This Halloween was great. First, I went to a murder mystery dinner with a few friends. I took a date and met some friends from my old job. I really miss them!

Group shot: Courtney, Me, Brian, Tiff, Chris, Rebbecca , Katey. Then you've got Kate and Bri, Bri and RB, and Brittney, the vampire French nurse. It was pretty fun!

Then, there was the party at Haley's place. There were some really great costumes there.

This is Haley and her roommates.

This is Haley, the viking warrior/hat rack. Great costume, Hales.

Robin as Wednesday from The Addams Family

Katey as a stick figure

I also went to a region Halloween dance. Now, I don't usually choose to go to dances, but my costume was so great this year, I had to get as much use of it as possible! Sadly, I didn't get any pictures at the dance, but I'm ok with that.

My sister had a little party with my nieces and nephew, and some of her neighbors and their kids. They had a great time. My nephew was so excited about his costume that when he tried it on at the store, he stood up on his chair and yelled, in his three year-old, British accent, "Hello everyone! I'm Thomas! Welcome to the Island of Sordor!" Classic. I'll get pictures on here soon.

My work seems to get very excited about Halloween. They decorate the office with spiderwebs and giant spiders, and all the employees' kids come and trick-or-treat through our cubicles. I conned a few buddies at work to dress up as various Mario Bros. characters, and we stole the show! I won the prize for most unique costume, and won $75 to gastronomy restaurants! I'm taking the whole Mario group out for lunch this week. I felt I owed part of my success to them, especially because there wasn't a group category. I think that because of our gumption and creativity, they will introduce the group category next year, though.

Everyone that competed in the costume competition. So basically, I slaughtered all these chumps! But they did a great job trying! Other winners were the old guy costume (bottom left) for funniest, and the BYU cheerleader (middle right) for ugliest. And man, that guy makes an ugly cheerleader.

Princess Peach (Carrie), Wario (me), Mario (Paul), and Luigi (Dan)

After work, I went to my sister's house in Eagle Mountain, just in time for some homemade chili. I got there just as the kids were finishing up their trick-or-treating, and we ate candy and watched Ghostbusters. You don't realize as a kid that the show is a comedy... Good times.

And finally, on Saturday night, I received an invitation to crime-ridden Chicago in the 1920s. More specifically, I was invited to S.P. Keasy's place, and had to play the role of Earnest G. Ambler, Chicago's most colorful millionaire and inveterate gambler.

Me as Ernie. I'll try to get a better picture soon.

Ernie is flamboyant, outspoken, and always ostentatiously dressed. As you can imagine, I was born for the role. We had a really great time trying to figure out "whodunit" while trying not to incriminate ourselves.

Back: S. Traiton Harrow (Darren), Earnest G. Ambler (me), Molly M. Awbsterr (Emma), Adalaide Banks (Bekah), Anna Maria Carlotta Sassine (Rachael), Eddie "Socks" R. Gyle (Matt)
Middle: Malissa F. Orrthot (Caron) Silky M. Adam (Anne)
Bottom: Billy "The Kid" Thrower (Josh), Clara S. Uffridge (Alison), Miss "Boots" Legger (Christy)

Somehow, I was able to hide my underground bootlegging business until the third round. But by that time, I realized I wasn't getting all the information I needed either, and was openly giving the secret information you're not supposed to share. Whoops. Here are a few more pictures.

Some group pictures. If you're wondering what I'm doing with the peanut, I found out later that my character always had one of his ultra-expensive cigars with him, so I made due with what I had. :)

More group shots. Really, you gotta click on the bottom right picture of me and Christy. My super wavy twenties hair is awesome. Thanks for the curly hair genes, Grandpa H.

But it was a great time, accompanied by mostly the Guys and Dolls soundtrack and plenty of apple beer and various sparkling beverages. Nice work on that one Christy! And I must also mention that my costume at Christy's party also received an award. I was on my game this year!

So, in a nutshell, Halloween was quite the success. Hope you all had a good one, too! So what did you do for Halloween?