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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Antiquity


 



Somewhere, in some small English university, a British scholar plots my demise. He waits for me to try to bandy about some pricy word I've gotten ahold  in an effort to sound learned. He, however, will be familar with verbal beauties both past and present, and he will pounce on my ignorance. You see, we'll start out with a lunch of baked potatoes, asparagus,roast beef and beer, and we'll have a friendly conversation about Jane Austin. He'll sense my weakness already.

 "Perhaps, Ray Ray, old chap, you'd like to go lunting with me." I'll probably then look a bit perplexed.

"Oh forgive me, my colonial friend, lunting is an old English world for walking and smoking a pipe at the same time." He'll then ostenatiously retrieve some Cubanos from his humidor, the kind I would have trouble getting a hold of stateside. We'll walk down the brick courtyard, passing through arched entranceways between buildings and walk by graveyards older than the United States. I'll ask him how he thinks the contemporary politics of Shakespeare's world influenced the text of "Corlianus." He'll pause for a moment.

" Mmmm, well, let me compose my thoughts for a moment. I feel a bit beefwitted"


 "Beefwitted?" I'll ask. "Oh yes, he'll respond. "It once was once thought that eating too much beef would cause one's brain to become inactive...ohohoho-such antiquated folk beliefs are charming."

At this point, even though we'll both have on caps, tweeds coats, and overcoats, we'll be cold and once again hungry. We'll go to one of England's innumerable, hunded year old pubs. The good professor will scan the tavern for colleagues, until he sees them sitting at some varnished log table, drinking cider and ale and eating God knows what...rancid haggis. "Ewwwww, good doctor, I hope you don't mind if my lesser colleague and I join you. I don't wish to groak, that is to say hang around until you invite me to sit down and eat."

Of course, the other scholars would invite him to sit down and discuss the finer points of linguistics over some food and drink. I would have little to say, and I would simply keep drinking. Eventually, the academics would move on to some harder drink. In my honor, some liquer would be brought to the table for me to pour into everyone's glass, but you'll recall that I've been drinking for awhile now-I've gotten sloppy.
"Oh, do stop pouring the liqeur all over the table," Professor will roar, snatching the bottle away from me. There's nothing worse than a man who jirbles!"


"I haven't been drooling!" I'll protest. To which the whole table will snicker in response. "Listen here," says an irate, eavesdropping barkeep, "to jirble is to pour with an unsteady hand, and if you can't hold your pint, you shouldn't be at the pub."
"In fact," angry professor will bellow, "I think it's  a goodtime for you to catch a flight home. No doubt your wife is taking advantage of your absence, and she is likely with squirrel." You'll have to figure that one out yourself.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Going to The Streets For My Fix

           I can't say that I've seen any words that I've gotten hung up on lately, nor have I been reading any authors that seem particularly in love with any words or phrases. At the very least, these authors aren't such obvious logophiles that I can poach off of their words or phrases . So, I am forced to satisfy my word fetish in seedy places. By seedy places, I mean in Facebook instant messenger conversations.
 
Ray Ray Montoya:
Hmmm
do you have any words that intrigue you?
I've learned "vaguebook" "shipping" and "frenemy" lately.
             Kindred:
Nothing that intrigues me, more of just an obsession with saying.
Grandeur/grandiose, colossal, sheepish, fluorescent
 
 
Grandeur and grandiose are an interesting pairing. A Google definition search reveals that they are very similarly defined, but with one clear distinction: grandeur is a noun while grandiose is an adjective. It's not hard for me to come up with an example for grandeur: The dictator moved throughout his palace with an air of grandeur. On the other hand, I felt less confident with grandiose. Should I write, "He has a grandiose vision of his nation and its future"?  or "Lady GaGa has a grandiose sense of fashion"?  I apologize for the clumsy pop culture reference; it will not happen again. In the meanwhile, what do you think of those words, examples, this dreaded blog, life, the disappearance of frogs, or what have you?
 
 
 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Grandiose

Tribal peoples feel a shift in the earth's magnetism, astronomers note an increased rate of expansion of the universe, and North Korea launches a celebratory missile trial, landing just short of the state of Hawaii. Why? You know why. I, Ray Ray Montoya, have deigned to return from my self imposed exile in order to inform, entertain, and enlighten you.

 I talk to the the people, the masses, the fan base and other whom I must inspire. They occasionally enlighten me regarding a word the people or hipsters are familiar that I am not. One such word is "shipping," have you heard of it? As I understand it, "shipping" is a verb that refers to fan-fiction that pairs together two characters who never quite "sealed the deal" in authorized shows or publications. For instance, pre-season 7 Agent Scully and Agent Mulder action is "shipping." In the same vein, fan written speculations involving Captain Picard loving down Dr Crusher would also be shipping. I had never heard the term until someone used it, and I demanded explanation. After that, I began to see it everywhere.

Facebook, like an increasingly less satisfying drug, is hard to stay away from. From a logophile standpoint, Facebook is only interesting in that it generates new terminology all the time! It seems many conspiratorial women (sorry, too much meth in my cornflakes) maintain "frenemies" on their friend's lists, those who are acknowledged in public for reasons economic and social, but who are secretly distrusted and kept close because close is where one keeps her enemies. Sexist of me? A woman tells me that this is done because being friends with the friends of friends maintain peace. Perhaps, and to be fair, my stupid little  conclusion has not been peer reviewed. To be even more fair, I know of men who have had their bosses on the friends list-never a good idea. In some cases, it's cost a dude dearly.

Another word? "Vaguebook" I think that word is self explanatory-one someone posts something intentionally vague and out of context on Facebook. For example, if I were to say "kisses that taste like barley soup" people might think I'm actually making a serious point or referring to an event in my life. Wrong!  I have just recently made a policy of not committing the sin of Vaguebook because I don't want to  be accused of spreading rumors, gossip, what have you, and our words are more important than we seem to think in "The West."

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Saturday, September 8, 2012

When What You Don't Know Says A lot.

Hello, my pretties.


   As of late, your mad scientist has been giving his victims,er, subjects a battery of tests to see how big their individual vocabularies are. Sadly, it is not uncommon for students to graduate from a failed school district with reading and writing skills at the 5/6th grade level. This isn't news, however. As a brilliant social scientist, I was much more intrigued to observe the common misunderstandings of  certain words amongst my test subjects. 
 Some of the mistakes were obvious: "vocation" was often mistaken for "vacation." So too was it common for my lab rats to confuse the word "fabricate" with "clothe."
  Less obviously resolved is the tendency for students to believe that the word "extrovert" means a "main idea." My dear legions, why do you think this is? The word clandestine, which means secretive or covert, was often thought to be a synonym for "noble." I can only speculate that the letter combinations like "destine" and the word "clan" bring to mind great families and royal bloodlines, but I can't be sure. The only potential confusion that makes a sad, grim kind of sense to me is that many of the testers, who have come from poor backgrounds with unstable family lives, conflate the word "diversity" with "separation."

                 ending on a less pleasant note,
                            RRM.

Monday, August 27, 2012

YouTube, Russian Antisemitism, And Even a Little Word Nerdery


     YouTube is a wonderful concept and website, and yet it is sadly true that spending a lot of time on  YouTube in not necessarily the mark of an intellectually curious or well informed person.  Let's come out  with it: I watch an awful lot of professional wrestling on YouTube, and I've never uploaded anything, so I'm in no position to throw stones about people wasting their time on the internet in general or YouTube in particular. There are some channels that I feel are worthwhile on YouTube however. YouTube is one of the best vehicles for exposing the misconduct of public officials-think of the famous police brutality videos that have gone viral-"Don't taze  me, bro."  There are a lot of international perspectives available on YouTube as well-some quality reporting not available via local television or cable, really.  Even so, I am starting to suspect that their are no good sources for news on YouTube, just some occasionally insightful videos. Even establishment journalism turns over a few rocks. I used to watch the Young Turks- hosted by Cenk Uygur, who had a brief run with MSNBC. Cenk is intelligent enough and sometimes funny, but often his commentary makes up 90% of a video, and I'm often more interested in raw footage. I am still subscribed to NDTV, which provides great coverage of the Chinese news and events. I thought I had hit the jackpot at first; it was good journalism coming from a Chinese perspective-then I looked at the channel and noticed that they broadcast out of the United States!  Then there's Russia Today. Russia Today -one of the most popular YouTube accounts extant. Russia Today provides more coverage of American police brutality than the other networks,  and it gave the Occupy movement that I was sympathetic to an enormous amount of coverage. News is presented in a professional format, and it certainly couldn't be accused of being bought and paid for by American corporations. No, it could instead be accused of being bought and paid for the by the Kremlin because, well, it is...  It becomes painfully obvious when watching Russia Today that their interviews and discussions include only one source or spokesperson. Civil libertarians, peace activists, scientists, entrepreneurs, Marxists, fascists, diplomats, whoever, are interviewed and given a forum with no debate or opposition whatsoever. Beyond that, none of this scrutiny gets applied to  to Mother Russia. Any coverage of American foreign involvement comes from an opposite perspective- in some ways it's refreshing as the Arab Spring has always had threatening undercurrents and American support has been suspect. All of the sudden we're back on the side of Saudi bank rolled fundamentalists again. Whatever, it's very clear that Russia Today  supports the Russian government's geopolitical agenda. This includes critical coverage of Israel.  Russian criticism of Israel! Russian criticism of Jews!  Criticism of the cruel Zionist occupation of parts of Palestine is valid, but Russia criticizing anything Jewish arouses my suspicion. It's not hyperbole to state that the nation of Russia invented the pogrom.   The noun Pogrom derives from a Russian verb to "wreak havoc or destroy." Soon enough, the word became synonymous with Russian  police or constabularies putting up the "closed" sign and allowing anti-Semitic rioters to brutalize Russian Jews. Long before Hitler's atrocities required the invention of the word , genocide, the (attempted) murder of an entire race, Russian bigotry resulted in the need for the word pogrom.
 Am I biased and self-righteous? A bit. I am prone to be dismissive of Anti Israeli coverage from the  media of a nation with the largest Neo-Nazi movement on earth. I was further irked by Russia Today giving the spokesperson of the fascist Larouche cult an open floor. So too has this cult been accused of antisemitism. On the other hand, YouTube videos and comment threads are hotbeds of antisemitism. Perhaps, just as the E.P.A. tolerates limited amounts of toxins the air and streams, I should just accept that some media outlets will just have to operate at a 15%  level of antisemitism. After all, if your favorite book had one page that was ripped or written on, you  still wouldn't  trash the entire novel.

                                           sarcastically,

                                               Ray Ray Montoya

    P.S. This whole topic brings to mind several interview's with Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat. Borat told interviewers, " At first the Khazakistani censors were concerned with the level of antisemitism in the moviefilm. Then after review they decided there was just enough."

Saturday, July 28, 2012

An Island of Chauvinists?

By some accounts, 2009 saw Great Britain's standard of living rise above those of Americans. I'm assuming that meant that Britons are living better, but mayhap it just means that percentage by which their quality of life has improved was significantly higher than the American growth. I don't know. In any event, this was three years ago, but for quite some time now a small percentage of Britons now seem to think that they've entered some kind of superior standing and freely insult and characterize Americans as stupid, fat, chauvinist, just generally inferior. There's some legitimacy behind these criticisms as America, located in the heart of capitalism and wide class disparity, seems hellbent on destroying social services, cutting rather than expanding the social safety net, and doing all this while fighting wars of conquest in order to maintain a fossil fuel habit that is unsustainable. A certain reactionary strain in our nation's spiritual life is an impediment to our thinking as well. But then America is still at this time, the world's largest economy and military superpower. In some ways, our problems now become the world's problems soon.

Indeed, the United Kingdom's relatively high standard of living isn't quite as solid a foundation as it might seem. The youth riots of last summer  attest to that and they seem to be the exemplification of the increasing amount of youth violence and discontentment that nation is experiencing.  A restless and somewhat extremist Muslim population, again largely youthful, has been linked to terrorism and has been inflammatory to the general public to say the least. In response, bigoted, far right fascist groups like the English Defence League and the British National Party are aggressively mobilizing in the streets, protesting Mosques and spewing their hellbroth of extreme nationalism/ Neo-Nazi ideology. These fascist or crypto-fascist groups are far more overt and prominent than their American counterparts.

A return to a great and imperial Britain is, of course, a nostalgic dream for many British reactionaries. Great Britain was one of the few other nations to commit troops to America's invasion of Iraq. This is a collective blind spot in the British political street. A famous headline in the U.K. asked "A Nation of Idiots?" about the U.S. as a result of the electorate's reelection of George W.Bush. This was stupid for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that in both the 2000 and 2004 elections, voter fraud was a heavy factor. This was also hypocritical as not too long afterwards Tony Blair, who played a big role in involving the U.K. in the Iraq debacle, was reelected. Moreover, though the United States initiated and led the Iraq occupation, the American public was always heavily divided and largely skeptical of the Iraq war. Not since the Vietnam War, where there had been conscription, had the cities, capitals, and campuses of America been so full of protesters and radicals.

It's likely that, as a species, our sense of national pride provides an ego boost and national difficulties are hard to reconcile, so it's much easier for some Britons to project onto the United States all of the problems that are insidiously and slowly undermining the United Kingdom as well. America the uneducated and obese is not alone as obesity and failing school systems are increasingly a problem in Great Britain.

The bottom line is that Americans are preyed upon by the forces of commodification and crony capitalism-forces western Europe has more ably resisted, but is not immune to.  Hopefully, the U.K. will continue to resist capital's pernicious influence, or they may exchange the inaccurate stereotype of unattractive red hair, terrible teeth, and shabby dress for their new stereotype- overweight junk food eating illiterates. In the mean time, it's best for workers of the world to unite and to avoid cheap stereotypes.