Thursday, May 8, 2008

Tchotchkes and YouTube, or How to ignore Blog Etiquette

I have the delightful honor of serving on the library's team in the Literacy Council Spelling Bee, an annual fundraiser.  We are "Off The Shelf" this year.  None of the three of us are pedigreed Librarians but, because the public tends to lump us all together (if we work for the library then, by golly, we are librarians), we have planned our costumes accordingly.  We will be your grandmother's librarians, complete with choreographed date-stamping when we spell a word correctly.  Assuming we can find three contraband date-stampers.

We looked over the word list together and divided it up according to education and experience.  One member knows German, one knows French, and one knows Pig Latin.  (I won't be much use in the foreign language department.)  Each section in the word list has its own Challenging Words, and that's where tchotchke showed up.  Yiddish!

I went right to the bookshelf as soon as I arrived home, found Leo Rosten's The Joys of Yiddish, and settled in for an hour of happy reunion with this amazing language.  We use many Yiddish words in our family, despite our staunchly Scandinavian/British roots.  In rereading the book, I discovered that we've been misusing one of them all these years.  Shlock, for us, refers to a casserole of unfortunate texture and indeterminate ingredients, but it really means a shoddy, cheaply made, or defective article.  Which, in a broad sense, legitimately describes some of those past entrees.  Our kids have done minor comedy routines based on 'meals we have known'.

Our daughter pointed me to Demetri Martin, via YouTube.  He's been featured on Comedy Central; his routines are fairly clean for a young comedian, with an occasional bleeped word.  His specialty is using an easel and pad of paper, as you'll see if you click on his name.  Demetri isn't one of those laugh-out-loud comedians, at least for me, but he makes me smile (Grapes, the fruit of hope) so I wanted to mention him.  Standup comedy has to be one of the toughest things to do, especially with so much to live up to.  How do you follow in the footsteps of Bob Hope, Bill Cosby, or Jerry Seinfeld?  Bob Newhart?  Billy Crystal? 

My email is often blessed with missives from Microsoft, little newsletters that tell me how to use my Office products more efficiently, or provide tips on Web 2.0 subjects.  A recent newsletter concerned blogging.  It stressed the importance of keeping a post on-topic rather than wandering around.  Apparently serious blog readers are deeply annoyed by posts that include more than what the title offers or have ill-defined tags.  The newsletter went on and on about it, and I began to feel a little defensive.  I don't even provide tags, most of the time.  Mine could be the Poster Blog for Bad Blog Etiquette.

Oh well.

Next time:  Spelling Bee report.  Stay tuned.

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