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IMNSHO: In My Not-So-Humble Opinion
Monday, 28 August 2006
Another nit to pick with Mr. Crichton...

I was just reading the chapter that begins, "Century City/Monday, September 27/9:45 A.M." and the first sentence says, "Evans had heard nothing from Morton for almost two weeks."

It seems like such a harmless little sentence, doesn't it?  What could be wrong with it?

Well, two chapters earlier, the one that begins, "Century City/Thursday, September 2/12:34 P.M." we are told that over a week had gone by during which period Peter Evans had not heard from George Morton.

So by September 27 over thirty-two days had passed without any communication between Evans and Morton.  Don't thirty-two days equal four-and-a-half weeks, not just under two weeks?

I suppose it's possible that there was some cell phone conversation that had taken place around September 13, but Crichton makes such a big deal about the lack of communication between the two men when the first week had gone by that it seems like a pretty big oversight for him not to mention even a voice-mail message or two-second phone call that may have transpired.

I know that his mind was probably on all of the charts, graphs, and sources of scientific data that refute the existence of global warming, but I think that such a well-known author would have editors who are supposed to catch such things.  The man has got plenty of resources, come on!

 


Posted by tonylagarto at 4:35 PM EDT
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Thursday, 24 August 2006
I need a fact checker in California

I'm reading Michael Crichton's global warming/eco-terror novel "State of Fear" and he's got a lot of facts and figures that would require tons of research to verify, but there's one easy one that sticks out like a sore thumb in the first sentence of the chapter that's headed, "Beverly Hills/Tuesday, August 24/5:04 P.M."

The sentence begins, "It was almost dark when he went home to his apartment..."

Now, I need someone in the Los Angeles area to tell me if it starts to get dark at 5:04 P.M. in August.  It doesn't start to get dark here in D.C. until after 8:00 P.M. during the summer.  Could the West Coast be that different?  I don't think so.

Another matter may have been intentional.  Throughout the novel, a Pacific island nation called Vanutu is referred to rather frequently, but there is no such nation.  There's an island nation in the Pacific called Vanuatu, which is a very similar name.  Is "Vanutu" a fictionalized version of Vanuatu, or was this a spelling error that evaded detection by a slew of editors and fact checkers?  This one may very well be a fictionalization.

Perhaps Crichton figured that since most Americans can't even find Asia on a globe they probably wouldn't even know that Vanuatu exists, so why bother coming up with a name that doesn't closely resemble that of a real nation?


Posted by tonylagarto at 4:25 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 28 August 2006 4:56 PM EDT
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Saturday, 19 August 2006
We've got a li'l problem
I've noticed that li'l is often spelled wrong, so I want to make it clear that the way that I've just spelled it is indeed the correct spelling, not that I recommend its frequent use.

Aside from its use in the possessive case ("Karen's son is getting so big!" "The Kravitzes are the Stephenses' nervous neighbors.") or to denote certain plurals ("Remember to dot your i's and cross your t's." "I bought my first CD's in the 1980's."), an apostrophe is also used to mark the omission of a letter or letters from a word. This is sometimes done to make contractions where two words are combined (don't=do+not, I'm=I+am), but can also be done to shorten a single word, as in the case of turning little into li'l, in which the apostrophe replaces two t's.   [Note: The apostrophe isn't absolutely necessary or required in my above examples of "CD's" and "1980's."  Those could be written as "CDs" and "1980s" and would still be considered acceptable by many grammarians, or in many cases those might actually be the preferred spellings.]

So, the skank-a-licious Lil' Kim gets it wrong. Even though her apostrophe could arguably be said to be replacing the missing e at the end of little, it's actually supposed to be replacing the two t's, as I said above (the silent e is just not accounted for in this instance). Back when the "artist" formerly known as Li'l Bow Wow, Kim's contemporary, was still known by that name, he actually got the name right... sometimes.  He was occasionally credited as Lil' Bow Wow. It's tricky keeping up with the name changes of some of these "celebrities" when they seem to be changing their aliases more than con artists and grifters who are wanted by the police in a number of states.

I guess, technically, if it's your own name you can pretty much call yourself anything that you damned well please. You can be Li'l, L'il, Lil', or even 'Lil. I suppose I've seen more egregious name choices than these in the past decade or two, but that will be a topic for another day...

P.S. For the record, even that inbred, backwoods, redneck hillbilly Li'l Abner gets it right, so there's no excuse for anyone else to get it wrong.


Posted by tonylagarto at 8:53 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 20 August 2006 8:23 PM EDT
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Thursday, 10 August 2006
Side effects may include...
I've noticed that most of the many, many, many TV ads for prescription sleep medications mention "drowsiness" as one of the side effects that they warn against at the end of the commercials.  Shouldn't drowsiness be the one desired effect of a sleep aid?  Usually side effects only happen to a small percentage of users, so if drowsiness is only a side effect of sleep aids, then what happens to the majority of people who take them?

Posted by tonylagarto at 5:20 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 10 August 2006 5:28 PM EDT
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Thursday, 29 June 2006
My favorite videos online

1. Orson Welles doing a Paul Masson commercial... drunk
Laughter through the tears.  "Aaaaaah, the French... champagne."

2. Bette Davis singing "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane" on the "Andy Williams Show"
Tears through the laughter.  "She could dance. She could sing. She could... do almost anything."

3. Bing Crosby, Engelbert Humperdinck, Bobbie Gentry, Gwen Verdon, and Dick Shawn singing a Beatles medley on "Hollywood Palace", circa 1969
WTF!?


Posted by tonylagarto at 8:23 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 10 August 2006 5:27 PM EDT
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Monday, 5 June 2006
Indecent Prepositions

I haven't posted in a while, but the schoolmarm is back.

I'm not a preposition Nazi, really, but these are some common mistakes people make. You are enamored of something, not enamored with it. One thing differs from another, it is not different than. Use than when you're comparing specific attributes: taller than, redder than, older than, etc. (e.g., "The play was different from any other that I've ever seen.")

You try to do something, you don't try and do it (e.g., Try to be here early on Monday.). If you were to try and do something, then you'd really just do it. There's no point in mentioning the trying part. "Try" should be followed by an infinitive ("to" followed by a verb; e.g., to be). The whole point of using the word "try" in a sentence is to convey the fact that the attempt's ultimate outcome is uncertain, but using "and" instead of "to" implies that you're telling a person to do two things (in the previously cited example, the two things are 1. to try, 2. and to be here early on Monday). If you're giving a direct command to someone, then you don't want them just to try, you want them to accomplish whatever the task is (Be here early on Monday.).

Most people say a myriad of, but this is one word that shouldn't have any preposition associated with it at all. And don't use "a" before it, either. Use "myriad" the same way you'd use "many". You wouldn't say, "I saw a many of annoying TV commercials during the program last night." You'd just say, "I saw many annoying TV commercials..." That's how you should use myriad. "There were myriad groupies hanging outside the stage door after the performance."

Yes, yes, you might be getting ready to tell me that many sources accept the usage of myriad as a noun, as the ever-vigilant Davis McDavis has done. I know this, but I refuse to acquiesce. I'll never do it. Never! Myriad-as-noun, I reject thee!

I know that Patricia T. O'Conner, author of Woe Is I, would agree with me that just because something is considered to be acceptable usage in the dictionary it doesn't mean that it's grammatically preferable. Here's what she has to say about myriad:

"It originally meant 'ten thousand,' but myriad now means 'numerous' or 'a great number of.' (Lulu has myriad freckles.) Avoid 'myriads' or 'a myriad of.'"

Who am I to argue with the ever-amusing Ms. O'Conner?  Or would that be whom?


Posted by tonylagarto at 5:44 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 25 November 2006 9:38 PM EST
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Friday, 17 March 2006
The word-o doesn't mean-o what you think-o
I've noticed that when people use the Spanish expression "mano a mano" they usually use it in the right context, but clearly think that the literal translation means "man to man". I've seen in movies and TV shows (especially reality shows) that when a guy says it he often points to himself and the person he's speaking to. It doesn't translate to "man to man", though. "Mano a mano" literally translates to "hand to hand", as in "hand to hand combat".

Sometimes people will even say "mano y mano", which translates as "hand and hand", and makes no sense.

I think that this all derives from the fact that so many people believe that you can just add an "o" to the end of most English words and you're instantly speaking Spanish, Italian, and/or Portuguese. Having studied all three languages I can tell you that, although this is occasionally true with some Latin-based words, these lovely foreign tongues are a bit more complicated than that.

Posted by tonylagarto at 2:12 PM EST
Updated: Friday, 17 March 2006 2:15 PM EST
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Tuesday, 28 February 2006
Da Vinci Code plagiarism?
"The Da Vinci Code" author Dan Brown was accused in Britain's High Court on Monday of taking material for his blockbuster conspiracy thriller from a 1982 book about the Holy Grail (just as much of this material that I'm writing for my blog has been "taken" from yahoo! News).

The accusation was made in a breach of copyright lawsuit filed against "The Da Vinci Code" publisher Random House by Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, authors of "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail". Baigent and Leigh claim Brown appropriated their ideas and themes in writing his book, which has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide since its 2003 publication. But in their book, Baigent and Leigh pretty much claim to be reporting facts that they'd uncovered through their research. They didn't consider their book to be fiction, so it's not an artistic creation, but an academic study. I think that as a supposed report of established "facts", which have reportedly been known to a select group of people for the past 2000 years, these authors can't possibly claim ownership of such details. People don't "own" facts, especially not if there have supposedly been a number of people who have known these facts, whether they were secret or not, throughout the past two millennia. It's very possible (or probable) that anyone else who would have had access to their "evidence" would have been able to draw the same theories or conclusions that they did in their book.

Let's say a few years ago there was an academic who was the first to uncover details about Thomas Jefferson's relationship with his slave, Sally Hemings, and was to write an paper (article, treatise, book, etc.) on the subject. If a novelist were to come along afterwards and write a fictional tale based upon those details, would the academic be able to claim ownership of those facts? Of course not.

It would be different if Baigent and Leigh had written a straight piece of fiction, but they claimed to have uncovered facts, and facts belong to everyone. They are in the public domain and therefore I think that Brown's use of those facts was what they call in the Intellectual Property Law field, "fair use".

Brown even mentions their book within his tale, so these guys can only have benefited from the attention that "The Da Vinci Code" has brought to them. I bought and read their book a couple years ago because of the curiosity that reading Brown's book had instilled in me. I'm sure they've sold many more of their books because of his, so they should just be grateful, instead of biting the hand that has been feeding them (and will continue to feed them as long as "The Da Vinci Code" keeps being sold).

One last thing on this subject, also from yahoo! News (see, I'm giving credit where it's due), Brown's book also was the target of a previous U.S. lawsuit. In 2005, a U.S. judge in New York ruled that his book did not infringe on the copyrights of "Daughter of God," by Lewis Perdue. The judge also ruled out any copyright violations of Perdue's 1983 novel "The Da Vinci Legacy."

Posted by tonylagarto at 3:22 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 28 February 2006 3:31 PM EST
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V for Va-jay-jay
I saw the stylish preview for the new movie V for Vendetta last night and it made me think of Dr. Bailey's nickname for her woman parts that she said on "Grey's Anatomy" a couple weeks ago when she was giving birth: "O'Malley, stop lookin' at my va-jay-jay!"

It also made me think of my very first V, which was a 1983 NBC miniseries about reptilian space aliens who come here to rape the Earth of its natural resources, much like the Bush administration and their Republican friends, the great American captains of industry.  In 1984, V was followed by another miniseries, V: The Final Battle, which apparently was not actually the "final battle" because later in 1984 a regular series, imaginitively titled "V", was launched.

Now, 22 years later, the original miniseries is supposedly being remade as V: The Second Generation. It's due to air sometime in 2007, but that's only if it actually ever gets filmed. This miniseries was originally intended to reassemble much of the original cast in a sequel. I would have loved to have seen what they could have done with a "20 years later" scenario, but perhaps some of the original cast members will be given new roles, hopefully more substantial than just cameo appearances. If this remake does finally make it onto NBC or ABC and it does well, then writer/director Kenneth Johnson will get an opportunity to tell his follow-up story.

Posted by tonylagarto at 2:42 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 28 February 2006 2:50 PM EST
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Monday, 27 February 2006
Brokeback Madness
Brokeback Mountain parodies abound: I think that in honor of the late Don Knotts, who died on Friday, someone should create a Brokeback Mayberry.

Posted by tonylagarto at 9:40 AM EST
Updated: Monday, 27 February 2006 3:42 PM EST
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