Language and Television Shows

April 30, 2010

Language fascinates me. Vernacular too. But what really fascinates me is the way “acceptable” language on television has changed over the last 25-30 years. Sitting down one night a week or so ago to watch an episode of the 1970’s TV hit “All in the Family”, it suddenly dawned on me: the censors have lost their grip on reality and sensibility.

The main character in “All in the Family”, Archie Bunker, was portrayed as a racist, bigoted, hate mongering, stereotypical buffoon. He was an EOO – Equal Opportunity Offender — spewing bigoted comments towards all minorities with equal aplomb. No minority, race or religion was granted immunity from his misguided and often misdirected hate: Jews, Blacks, Hispanics, Catholics, Polish, the list goes on forever.

The following are some (but not all) of the terms Archie would often use to “describe” various minorities:

Kikes (Blacks)

Pollacks (Polish)

Mics (Irish Catholics)

Heebs (Jews)

Spades (Blacks)

3As and 3Bs (Hispanic Mexicans and Puerto Ricans)

Jungle Bunnies (Blacks)

(you get the hint, right?)

But, therein lies the problem with today’s censors. I’m not condoning the use of any of the above terms, but don’t they seem a little less “offensive” than, perhaps, some of the language that is allowed to pass through the censors today? Isn’t it entirely possible to picture a “Jungle Bunny” as a furry, cuddly rabbit hopping around a tropical forest somewhere, searching for fresh fern leaves to nibble? And isn’t the word “spade” just another word for a garden tool? “3As and 3Bs” is as innocuous a scientific classification as possible, so what’s wrong with using those to describe someone?

Nowadays, it seems like everyone on TV can swear all they want. I find it ironic that censors will let “ass” slide through, but bleep out “hole”, so it comes across as “ASS(bleep!)”  And for reasons no one has seemed to be able to explain to me, it is now perfectly acceptable to say G-ddamn. I know every time I say that, I look for lightning bolts to suddenly appear.

The ironic beauty of the language used in  “All in the Family” cannot be overlooked. Despite the racist overtones, offensive stereotyping and political incorrectness, Archie never did utter a single “curse” word. Yet, if today’s scripts ever used any of the same terms he used, there would be organized marches going on across America within ten minutes of hearing those words spoken over the airwaves. But, “reality TV” censors don’t want to run the risk of “offending” anyone.

And G-ddamn it, ass(bleep!)s like that really piss me off.


The Britney Spears/Todd Rundgren Battle of the Lyrics Continuum

April 17, 2010

“Hit Me Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears

Oh baby, baby
Oh baby, baby
Oh baby, baby
How was I supposed to know
That something wasn’t right here
Oh baby baby
I shouldn’t have let you go
And now you’re out of sight, yeah
Show me, how you want it to be
Tell me baby
‘Cause I need to know now what we’ve got

[CHORUS:]
My loneliness is killing me
I must confess, I still believe
When I’m not with you I lose my mind
Give me a sign
Hit me baby one more time

Oh baby, baby
The reason I breathe is you
Boy you got me blinded
Oh baby, baby
There’s nothing that I wouldn’t do
That’s not the way I planned it
Show me, how you want it to be
Tell me baby
‘Cause I need to know now what we’ve got

[Repeat CHORUS]

Oh baby, baby
Oh baby, baby
Ah, yeah, yeah
Oh baby, baby
How was I supposed to know
Oh pretty baby
I shouldn’t have let you go
I must confess, that my loneliness
Is killing me now
Don’t you know I still believe
That you will be here
And give me a sign
Hit me baby one more time

[Repeat CHORUS]

I must confess that my loneliness
Is killing me now
Don’t you know I still believe
That you will be here
And give me a sign
Hit me baby one more time

********************************************************

“Parallel Lines” by Todd Rundgren

Face the facts
Some things never come together
Parallel lines running on forever
And you can’t turn back
There is never any starting over
Parallel lines never do cross over

It’s a challenge
Gotta make myself remember
Facing the truth, well, that doesn’t mean surrender
What is bravado and how much is a force of will?
I know that the world is full of opposites that attract
But unless we ignore the physics
Very soon we’ll have to

So I send you the gift of empathy
If you’d once in your life acknowledge me
I have visualized so thoroughly
That when I think of me I think of we

Can’t face the truth
It means that we must surrender
Understanding won’t satisfy the hunger
It whittles away at the destiny we fulfill
And like an animal running wild
You can’t call it back
And it’s just gonna make it harder
When it’s finally time to

It’s like a train that’s stuck running on a track
Parallel lines running on, running on, running on

Score: Todd – 1, Britney – 0.


MPD and My Muse…An introduction

November 6, 2009

Well, this is fascinating. My muse has recently been diagnosed with a new disorder. It seems she has a “slight” case of MPD – Multiple Personality Disorder. This could explain her wildly fluctuating behavior and speech patterns. I’ve suspected something for a little while, but going back through the transcripts of previous conversations, I realize now I was talking to several different “people” –sometimes all at once. I was finally able to connect the dots when, out of the blue, “Trudy” actually took the Marlboro ciggy out of her mouth and popped in a wad of Double Bubble bubble gum — a signal that something was up.  Of course, Trudy was still being as belligerent and orny as ever — between bubbles, she was muttering such semi-incoherent phrases as “Peach cobbler, bitch!” and “Kiss my ass, state trooper boy”.  No reason for such rude behavior, honestly. I’ve tried to talk with Trudy and tell her how inappropriate her comments can be at times, but last time I did it, she threatened to “put my black belt to the test”. Since she carries a switchblade and a 9 mm in the cab of her semi, I declined her invitation to an ass-kicking and spent most of the next half hour “talking her down” from whatever menopausal moment she was having.

But the bubble gum — so out of character for her. That’s when it hit me — that wasn’t Trudy. Gone was the 5’2″, 150 lb lesbian truck driver with the smoker’s cough, missing upper teeth, leathered skin and thinning gray hair. Sure, she was still dressed in her typical trucker uniform – red flannel shirt over a “wifebeater” T, dirty jeans and loggerhead boots, but that wasn’t the Trudy I knew and admired for her open honesty and willingness to put me in my proper place. Oh no, this person in front of me was much, much younger. I had to get a good look at her.

I say “her” because honestly, men don’t chew and snap their gum that way. Maybe the person who stole Trudy’s spotlight is gay — I don’t know and really don’t care.  That’s between them. I’m just here for the entertainment factor anyways. But still, something told me this new character was a lot younger, and definitely less “street smart” as Trudy. I sense a naivete that can only be matched by the stupidity of youth. So, I am going to go out on a limb and say I was talking to a 17 year old cheerleader. Some of the clues? Well, the constant gum chewing — like watching a cow standing in the field, vapidly staring at the barn, chewing its cud. And the hair twirling — annoying as hell. The constant twirling of the index finger around the pony tail. Leave your hair alone, dammit!

But the final clue? Every other word out of this one’s mouth was either “like” or “whatever”. I hate having to spend a moment of my time listening to my beloved language get slaughtered. I try to keep our conversations short. On the other hand, it is fun to mess with youth. I can tell her practically anything, and she’ll believe it. Or at least crinkle her cute little button nose, lean her head to the side and in her high pitched, annoyingly nasaly voice, giggle “Oh my god, that’s so, like, funny!” She does like to hang on every word of mine. She also likes to hang on every high school football player too. I see a teenage pregnancy in her future if she doesn’t pull her shit together soon and stop acting like such a slut. I’ve checked her Facebook and MySpace sites, and she’s gathering a long list of “friends”, most of whom probably aren’t aware she’s still underage. Someone’s going to get in real trouble if they don’t watch out. Honestly, my “mother-daughter muse” talks we’ve had seem to go over her head. This whole “I’m immortal” thing is being wasted on her youth, I have decided.

There is one other personality I’ve had the pleasure to meet who is by far my running favorite. Oh for the days in my twenties when I was still willing to meet the world head on and tackle life’s mysteries! She’s a real go-getter this one. She’s everything I never was, which is why I love her so much. She’s twenty-something (somewhere between 22-25) and just does what she wants, to hell with the circumstances. She spent some time over in Italy with the entire national soccer team. She won’t tell me “exactly” what happened – but I sense a few unconventional sex practices took place. She and her sister muse — Erato– probably found a supply of Mazola, whipped cream, feathers and satin laced handcuffs and had themselves a party. I bet she never asked for names. I also heard she’s engaged to a Croat named Jakob, but that relationship is probably doomed. She’s a bit of gold digger, and continues to find a long list of men to supply her with all the latest gidgets and gadgets to keep her on her eventual path to self-destruction. Of course it doesn’t hurt to have a model’s face on a perfect body devoid of wrinkles and the after-effects of childbirth and age-related gravity. She’s happy to tell everyone that “her boobs still point to Orion” (She’s Greek, so of course she had to get that shout out in there). Even though I love her, she does need to get her ego in check. There will always be someone coming up behind her who is prettier, thinner and more desirable. She just doesn’t know it yet. Ahh, youth.

That’s it for roll call. I continue to have conversations with my muse (now “muses”) and some days, I’ll find myself having to change my own behavior based on who decides to show up. Honestly, I like the mystery of it all. It’s so, like, awesome. Unless, of course, the Sandman shows up. He’s kind of a douche bag towards me. I bet he and John Gosselin are friends.


This Post is All About “Me”, Seriously

October 24, 2009

Just a peek at some things about me. Read em, don’t. I don’t care. But, I own these and accept them for who and what they are. So, there.

Favorite Type of Fabric:

Fleece

Least Favorite Type of Fabric:

Sandpaper, The thong concept was an abysmal failure.

Favorite Punctuation Mark:

Umlaut, followed closely by the accent mark over the e.

Least Favorite Punctuation Mark:

Semi-colon. Too much drama.

Favorite Substance:

Mercury. Liquid, yet cohesive.

Least Favorite Substance:

Jello. You can’t nail it to a table.

Favorite Chemical Equation:

C6H12O6. Sweet!

Least Favorite Chemical Equation:

CH4. Smells like farts. I’m not 13 any more.

Favorite Planet:

Saturn. It looks like it’s wearing a funny hat, or a fashionably over-sized belt.

Least Favorite Planet:

Venus. She’s very toxic to be around.

Favorite Genre:

Suspe…

Least Favorite Genre:

Historical Romance. Bloomers and corsets are not sexy.

Favorite Literary Device:

Irony

Least Favorite Literary Device:

Irony. Think about it.

Simile or Metaphor?

My brain burns white hot with this question. Like smelting steel.

Alliteration or Assonance?

Quit it with confusing conundrums. Clearly I’m dearly devoted to dual devices.

Dichotomy or Juxtaposition?

Dichotomy. I prefer safe distances.

“Six of one, half a dozen of another?”

I haven’t decided yet.

More or Less?

Both, please.



BEST ANIMAL REVENGE STORY EVER

October 23, 2009

http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/europe/10/23/russia.skating.bear.death/index.html

I wonder what size ice skate the bear would need? Size 26 WWW?


Random Thoughts From the Nerd

October 22, 2009

I want to know what dogs are thinking, but not smelling. I don’t want to have to work that hard or experience that much.

Cats are impossible to read. They need an interpreter – perhaps a chinchilla?

I really don’t want to know how swine flu went from swine to human. Or for that matter, how ebola went from monkey to human. Regardless, someone was acting inappropriately in both situations.

Is it possible to freeze electricity?

There HAS to be a speed of dark. I just feel it. I’d be shocked if there weren’t.

Nothing smells better in a house than a batch of snickerdoodles fresh from the oven.

Any word that has “oodle” in it is fun to say.

The best punctuation mark in the world? The umlaut. Not just fun to use, but fun to say. Try it, you’ll agree.

Ask the Amish if they use hybrids. They’ll probably say, “Yes, I own a mule.” Great tie in with biology.

If Edgar Allan Poe were alive today, I would want to be his Facebook friend. Only.

People who think the world cares about them, but we really don’t:

  • Heidi and Spencer Pratt
  • Jon Gosselin
  • Paris Hilton
  • Tila Tequila
  • Balloon boy dad

People who will some day get their asses kicked by an assorted group of fed-up middle class and lower class folks:

  • Same folks

If we can put a man on the moon, why can’t anyone create chocolate covered potato chips? Two PMS problems solved at once.


Conversations with My Muse: Getting My Ego Crushed

October 20, 2009

Hey there! Long time, no see!

Hi….Hang on a sec...N-A-I-F– that works.

Excuse me?

What, you’ve never heard of that word?

Um, noooo…

What kind of language arts teacher are you?

Apparently, not much of one.

Now, you know that isn’t true!

Well, you’d think I’d have a pretty expansive vocabulary, being a lover of words and all…

You do claim you’re the “word nerd”.

I am very proud of that title, chickie.

I don’t doubt that. And I’m not making fun of you.

Then what’s going on here?

I’m just playing a little Scrabble on my IPhone.

IPhone? You have an IPhone now? Lemme guess — the rich oil baron from Texas?

Yes. I told you I wanted one. I’ve had this one for a month or so. Now I can have all my social networking sites in one set place. I’ll never have to carry a laptop with me again.

Well aren’t you “special”?

Provisional.

Huh?

Another word for special. Do I need to dumb this down for you?

You’re in a bit of a mood.

Ya think?

How come?

I got my ass handed to me on a platter last night.

Oh my! Where did you hear that expression?

Just a little something I overheard during the last OSU versus Purdue game.

Ah. What happened?

Well, I thought it would be nice to play a game of Scrabble with an old friend.

Who was the friend?

I call him “Billy”. He prefers “William”.

Uh oh, I don’t like where this is going…William? William who?

Shakespeare.

Holy CRAP! You sat down to play a word game with William Shakespeare?

Yea, so?

Wow. Very presumptuous of you, don’t you think?

Not getting it here.

Meds wearing off?

Little bit.

Figured. Only that you decided to play a WORD game with a WORD SMITH.

I don’t have any friends named “Smith”.

Geez, pay attention! You really need to study up on your history.

I AM history. I’m an ancient Greek —

I KNOW who you are. What I can’t figure out is why you’d want to challenge the one person in the history of mankind who was personally responsible for introducing more than one THOUSAND words into the English language AND invented the compound word.

He did all that?

Uh, no duh, muse.

Wow. I did not know that. He just seems like a great guy to be around. He “gets” me. I “get” him. No pretense, no boundaries.

Fascinating.

What’s that?

My muse had no idea about —

HEY– I told you before I don’t know everybody. I have only worked for a select few million…

Yea, but..

But what? You expect me to have this big dossier on all these famous people throughout history.

Well, ya since you’re the muse of poetry and song I would expect that to be part of your background research.

You’re wrong. I don’t have the time, energy or patience to run a background check on every one of my employers.

Maybe you should. There sure seems to be a lot of people writing stuff that is total crap.

Now with that I agree. See, isn’t it amazing how we can put our competitive differences aside and just enjoy each other’s company?

Who you calling competitive?

You — you don’t like to lose games often, do you?

Not word ones.

Thought so.

Hey, if we’re wrapping this up, then I want you to clean up your Scrabble mess before you leave.

What mess?

The tiles spilled all over the floor when I sat down on top of them.

Ouch.

Yea, and now I can’t seem to find the Q.

I’m not going there.

No, no you’re not.