Wednesday, June 29, 2011

That's the Way It Lagos

Sometimes I think it's a shame that people don't follow international affairs very well, but on other occasions it isn't so disappointing. After all, if the President of Nigeria's name were widely known, how many bad jokes would it invite? Not to mention his wife. Their names will appear below, but you have to wait:

(won't be long now)

Goodluck Jonathan and Dame Patience.

Seriously. If you are reading this, you're probably googling the names now to make sure there's no mistake. Go ahead. I'll give you a moment.

You see? Instant fact check.

I used to hang out with Dame Patience when we were both students at Port Harcourt University. Or was it the University of Port Harcourt? A nice young lady, but her elaborate hats used to block my view of the chalkboard. And for the person behind me, it was even worse, because my elaborate hat blocked his view of Dame Patience's elaborate hat and the chalkboard. College!

Monday, June 27, 2011

I Slaved Over a Hot Stove For Hours, Fido!

Pet owners can now purchase a product referred to as a homestyle dog treat. Has anyone ever made dog treats at home? Seems like an awful lot of trouble for perhaps the least picky eaters this side of goats.

"Last night we canned tomatoes and whipped up some homemade dog treats."

Know what a homestyle dog treat is? A bone!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Your Mistake: Being Born

If you go by conventional wisdom, things have been getting worse ever since you were born. It doesn't matter when you were born, either, just know that the time before then was better. Way better. People had respect. Kids ate their vegetables and got the right amount of sleep. Parents lived up to their responsibilities and politicians exhibited a measure of honesty and grace.

Again, this was before you were born, so you don't remember. Or, it might have been during your early childhood years, about which you are definitely not idealizing or recalling in a fond, nostalgic--and therefore skewed--manner. Sunsets were prettier, without all that superfluous gamboge. Full moons occurred more often than they do now because it was before the moon realized it drove people insane when it came out in all its glory. People ruin everything!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bad Hand Gestures

Politicians exhibit the worst, most embarrassing gesticulations when speaking. President Obama's mostly stationary fist that he occasionally waggles slightly is actually one of the better ones and it isn't all that great. Heretofore, the lamest, most cringeworthy hand movement was probably that of Michael Dukakis, the benign, milquetoast former Governor of Massachusetts who lost to George H. W. Bush in the 1988 Presidential Election.

But Dukakis has now been trumped by GOP Presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann of Minnesota. Perhaps a little fittingly, her hand motions make it appear she's simultaneously screwing in two wing nuts or maybe smoking two cigarettes at once, but not in the workmanlike way, the index and middle finger combo used by almost everyone, but in the utterly pretentious, Albert Camus style, between the thumb and forefinger.

Things have gotten so bad that it's about time we brought in the world's leading experts on hand gestures: rappers. Old school or new school, doesn't matter, just get get every Presidential candidate a rapper consultant to teach him/her some decent handwork!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Companion Site

Please view this site for links to purchase my upcoming novel, which is available for pre-order now. I don't adore self-promotion but at the moment it's the only kind I have at my disposal. Thanks very much!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Not Yet Read

Don't you worry because I
Like it when you don't reply,
Don't care if your inbox creaks
From all the mail you've left for weeks.
But when it comes your time of need,
Don't use a stopwatch to track my speed.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Fat to Chew

Commercials for prescription medication often say things like "tell your doctor if you have asthma or heart disease". Such statements are intended to alert patients of possible side effects associated with taking the advertised drug when one also suffers from a particular medical condition. But it doesn't make a lot of sense. After all, shouldn't your doctor be telling you that you have asthma or heart disease and not the other way around? What's a doctor for, anyway?

Television executives appear to have learned by now that fat, annoying guys who act stupid all the time can't stay married to intelligent, beautiful women. Not long ago, we were apparently supposed to believe this but the litany of programs purporting such a premise has diminished. Now we're merely expected to believe that in those roaring late Nineties and Early Noughties, corpulent dopes could not only attract a smart beauty with a great personality but remain married to her throughout the course of an seven or eight season run.

Of course a clever, attractive woman might dig an overweight guy. She might like a dopey guy. She might carry a torch for a guy who was supremely irritating and always screwed things up. But combine all of those traits and the notion that she would get married--and more critically, stay married--to such a person. Well, no wonder Reality TV did so well during that period. It was canned, contrived, forced, boring, reveled in ignorance, but it was easier to swallow than the fiction.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Child, Please

Following a discussion with a couple of friends, it seems the ruling on the less vs. fewer mashed potatoes question is: irrelevant. Everybody wants more mashed potatoes, not less or fewer.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

One Less/Fewer Grammatical Question to Worry About

As many amateur grammarians know, it is traditionally incorrect to say "less people" or "less dollars". Public usage appears to be rendering this guideline obsolete, but there are still stubborn individuals who cling to the past.

"Less" and "amount" can be used to describe things like money and time. "You'll get less money if you work that amount of time." This is because you can't count time and although you can count money, you have to know how many dollars/pounds/euros/Pula it is. So it's "less" money and "fewer" dollars. It's an "amount" of time but a "number" of minutes. This gets abused all the time, even by professional broadcasters, who say "amount of people".

So okay, this might be a losing battle and not worth ruffling one's feathers, but even if one adheres to the traditional rules, there remains the subject of mashed potatoes!

If you want a smaller portion of starchy succulence, do you say you want fewer mashed potatoes or less mashed potatoes? Frankly, neither sounds right. The first seems wrong because potatoes in that form can't actually be counted. What does one mashed potato look like? The second sounds dumb for the same reason "less minutes" does.

So who can answer this?

Monday, June 6, 2011

If You Buy My Book, I Promise To Stop Blogging

Seriously, is blogging getting to be old hat now? I'm not really sure. Probably depends on whom you ask (hint: don't ask bloggers).

I may have to revoke my promise, depending on how many people actually like the blog. But it won't be much of a contest if fans of the blog are measured against non-fans.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


There's no way you can convince me that professional child actors aren't taught to enunciate and pronounce things properly. And yet, when the little freaks get on camera, directors ask them to lisp and pronounce their Rs like Ws. What's the point of nurturing a young performer's language skills when they're just going to make him talk like the three year old across the street? Did I mention it is not at all cute?