Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Internet Rambles

Humor is everywhere and is particularly available on the Web. There are obvious places to look - College Humor comes to mind (warning: crude humor mixed in with the marvelous stuff.) Other sites are hidden away and found only through rabbit-trail links or friends in the know. Do you need a smile today? Visit these places:

For musical humor, there is no place like YouTube. A Tuesday Jam friend sent a link to an appearance by Willie Hall on Spike Jones' television program. Mr. Hall was a phenomenal classical violinist but he had a playful side, too. He was the Victor Borge of the violin, as you'll see here.

For visual humor, LovelyListing.com is a good spot to visit. The site posts photos from actual real estate ads. Click on the words "Found by" to additional photos from the listing. You'll find funny photos, peculiar photos, even disturbing photos, leaving one to wonder what was the realtor thinking? The photos stand on their own, but read the comments for further hilarity.

Do you enjoy reading about the misuse of language? Humor Matters offers an array of funny stuff, but my favorite section concerns overseas signage. Another site, Engrish.com, posts photos of notices containing amusing translations. Once in awhile a photo looks photoshopped (for shame) but most of the photos are obviously legit.

Blogs can be promising places to do some humor-grazing. One of my favorites is Word Imperfect. The blog owner posts a word each day and invites readers to make up a meaning for it. Sometimes I'll happen upon a singular posting (thank you, rabbit-trails.) like this October 12 post from The League of Reluctant Adults, which offers advice on fending off zombie attacks while trick-or-treating.

Finally, webcomics. My favorites are Wondermark and Unshelved. There is a long, long list of webcomics and it's growing weekly as comic-artists figure out how to post their work. You can find your favorite newspaper comics online, which is how I get my daily Zits fix. I also visit xkcd once a week, but heads up on that one. It can be very odd and and it sometimes qualifies for a "questionable content" rating. I take a chance on it in order to catch the good ones, like this one (saved in my bookmark file.) Another great webcomic is found on Inkygirl. The site is actually a blog offering "daily diversions for writers" but there's a delightful comic on the right side of the page that will change each time you refresh the page.

I'll end with a literary link to A Journey Round My Skull, in which poets are ranked by beard weight.

Overheard on Twitter (from a college student): Today's 1st lecture was about zombies. Our 2nd is about Coleridge. Tuesday may have peaked too soon.

Next time: we'll have to wait and see. Stay tuned.

Friday, October 9, 2009

I heart Grammar Girl

There is an uncertain tension that occurs when an avid reader is employed by a library. So many books! The tension increases if library duties include manning the Returns desk. I've read books that I would never have known about had they not come to my attention via check-in. Paging adds its own layer of discovery. (I didn't know there there was a book about this!) Processing hold requests can trip me up, too.

I cannot read everything I want to read. Therefore, tension.

The Internet contributes to this tension, offering scores of book reviews in the blogosphere (that's where I found out about Encyclopedia Idiotica) and by sites like LibraryThing, GoodReads, and Shelfari. Shelfari is currently sending nattery email alerts, telling me all about the reading that other members are doing and encouraging me to log my own. It offers to hook me up with some good books. If it only knew.

My latest Good Book of the Week came to me because somebody tweeted about it - Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips For Better Writing, by Mignon Fogarty. The author has a conversational style that is easy to read. Although she is Grammar Girl, her book includes information concerning usage. She treats the subject with down-to-earth humor and she is not afraid to stand firm about things like asterisks. To quote from the book, "...it drives me crazy when ads have an asterisk next to some offer, and then you can't find what it means. More than once I've seen something such as Jackhammers, 20% off,* and then nothing else on the page to indicate what the asterisk means. Does it mean I get 20 percent off only if it is a Sunday and my name is Squiggly? I hate that!..."*

A podcast listener suggested she call them "exasperisks."

Ms. Fogarty addresses many common errors such as "alot" vs "a lot" vs "allot." I've learned some useful things, e.g. the difference between e.g. and i.e. Her examples are delightful; I've laughed out loud in public, reading this book. I would be happy to suggest it to anyone who writes anything. And now that I've read it, I am much more aware of my own writing style. Alas.

Rather than Overheard on Twitter, I'm choosing instead to highlight a recent discovery, Random Wodehouse Quote. Each time you refresh the page, you'll get a fresh quote from a Wodehouse book. I had to stifle a laugh while at the Reference Desk, an unhealthy thing to do to one's sinus. The quote that did it: His whole attitude was like that of a policeman with nothing on his mind but his helmet.

Next time: rambles among the Internets. Stay tuned.

* Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing, page 112.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


There are some absurd things on the Web, as you know if you've spent any time browsing around. One of those absurd things is a photo of Ken and me, ca. 1984, taken in an Amsterdam photobooth. Our son has added it to his facebook photo album and, as a result of friends' comments, is threatening to put the photo on My Parents Were Awesome, although we're not sure awesome is the best description for us. We think we look like members of Germany's Green Party, or the Red Brigade. Got bombs? You be the judge:

Overheard on Twitter: totally going to murder the elevator's disembodied robot-voice person if she refers to the floors of the hotel as "decks" one more time.

Next time: GrammarGirl. I promise. Stay tuned.