Friday, March 14, 2008

Spiderwick Chronicals

The March 14 date of this posting is a lie.  I started it way back then, but actually finished and posted it today, March 31.

Yes, I know how to spell Chronicles but our local cinema sure doesn't.  That misspelling up there is displayed on the South Sound Cinema What's Playing sign.  I get to see it twice a day and I wince every time.  Port Orchard business signs are a blighted bunch, as evidenced by the following messages exhibited over the past year (not, by any means, a complete list):

Thank You, Port Orcherd
Under "New" Management
Come in for a "special" deal

As indicated in those examples, the improper use of quotation marks is responsible for most of the bad signage.  People must be unaware of the unfortunate ironic turn their sign may take.  I attribute this problem to the overuse of air quotes, people mimicing quotation marks in the air as they say a word. 

And apostrophe misuse?  Don't get me started.  It isn't that I'm a grand expert on the subject.  It just bothers me when the basics of spelling or grammar are slighted.  (Hm...the spellchecker is having fits over my use of the word mimicing, which just goes to show that I can be as uninformed as anybody.)

It's confession time:  I am a pathological proofreader.  My eyes go straight to an error whenever I read something, no matter how unimportant the document may be.  It could be a milk carton, a playlist, a poster, a webpage...if there's an incorrect word or bad punctation, I see it whether I want to or not. And once I see it, I want to fix it.  I have never made this public, but I once used a pen to correct a really awful punctuation error in an upscale menu, and yes, the menu was in English.  I went so far as to quietly correct all the other menus within reach.  We were waiting for a table and I had to do it while my husband (and the hostess) wasn't looking.

Correcting a document that is not my own could be considered defacement, I suppose, but I'm in good company. Ann Fadiman, in her book Ex Libris, reports that her father, Clifton Fadiman, routinely corrected menus in posh restaurants.  He even corrected library books, corrections which "he viewed not as defacements but as improvements."  So there.

To my credit: though sorely tempted, I have never drawn a mustache on a publicly-displayed portrait.

Next time:  by popular demand, hair-raising x-rays.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Other natural curiosities

Have you read Mark Twain's The Innocents Abroad?  It's a personal favorite and I reread it regularly.  There is a section in which he begins to describe his Ascent Of Vesuvius but is distracted and writes about something semi-related, resumes with Ascent Of Vesuvius, derails with something else...he does eventually complete the narrative of his Ascent Of Vesuvius.

My blog is a bit like that.

Natural curiosities.

We visited the Woodland Park Zoo with another couple, some years ago.  During this visit we came to the Hippo section and encountered a sign with the question "How long can hippos remain underwater?"  There, before us, was a lake for the hippos.  Presumably the hippos were in it, underwater, since there were no hippos in sight.  We made ourselves comfortable and waited to learn the answer to the question.  Twenty-five minutes later we began to doubt the presence of hippos.  The fact that it took that long says something about our collective...um...patience.  Now, when we encounter a dubious claim, we mutter to one another, yeah, and how long can hippos stay underwater?

We also visited the Gorilla exhibit.  There was such a crowd at the viewing area that we had to be satisfied with watching from the fringe.  We couldn't see much, just one really big gorilla who meandered through the shrubbery.  He finally settled himself on a rock after something on the ground caught his eye.  He slowly reached down, grasped the object, and brought it up for closer scrutiny.  The crowd tittered as it became clear what the object was: a fecal deposit.  The tittering changed to appalled gasps as the gorilla, with a thoughtful expression, began to eat it.  Within a couple of minutes, we had the viewing area completely to ourselves.

It was a fine day at the zoo.

Next time:  the trials of an inveterate proofreader.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Neville and the cinematic arts

Neville has had the upper hand these last three days.  I have a lot of things in my arsenal to deal with Neville, but I must use them randomly because Neville adapts.  It feels like I'm engaging The Borg.

Fortunately for me, a couple of distractions have arrived:  The entire series of Blackadder from the library, and The Darjeeling Limited from Netflix.  I'm quickly becoming a fan of Wes Anderson.  I loved The Royal Tennenbaums, and I found Darjeeling to be as wonderful.  Anderson lets the audience discover his characters through visual and verbal clues; both movies are the sort that one watches several times because there are so many subtle things.  You have to pay attention. 


For some reason, after watching The Darjeeling Limited, I was suddenly homesick for the Harvard Exit.  This was my favorite theater when I lived the single life in Seattle.  Housed in an old (supposedly haunted) building on Capitol Hill, the theater hosted terrific film series' like MGM Musicals and Films Of Akira Kurosawa.  They had a Mixed Foreign Film series which included Diva and Moscow Does Not Believe In Tears.  Babette's Feast may have been in there, too.  Three wonderful films.  Foreign films tend to take their time with a story, and the humor comes from the everyday interactions and relationships.  And now I know why I'm homesick for the Harvard Exit.  The Darjeeling Limited is a lot like those foreign films of my movie-going past.

The MGM Musicals series was great fun.  It included Singing In The Rain, which is just about the only movie that makes me laugh out loud.  Every time.  The Seattle Public Library had a book with the choreography for the famous scene where Gene Kelly sings the title song.  The book listed every step of the scene, allowing anyone to learn and perform it exactly as it was in the film.  I checked it out and several of us attempted to learn the routine.  We decided someone would have to be mildly demented to actually accomplish this dance.  The book went back to the library well before its due date.

A friend once told me that he wished his life was like a musical, where people could break out in song any time and nobody would think it strange if he danced in the street.  I agreed with him up to a point, but what if your personal musical was more like West Side Story than The Music Man?

This post has meandered around a bit and not a word regarding Other Natural Curiosities.  Maybe I'll get to those curiosities next time.  Stay tuned.