Fighting the Redneck Jihad: Vocabulary


There’s nothing I detest more than when a person uses/mispronounces/misspells a word in a public forum. At least at home, your family can correct you. But shows like Honey Boo Boo, Storage Wars (Darryl who wears the wife beater shirts) and well, honestly, most all Reality Shows seem to glorify the butchering of the English language. It’s as if there’s a redneck Jihad against grammar! Maybe I’m sensitive about it because I’m a blonde, and well, to fend off the “dumb blonde” jokes throughout my life, I didn’t develop bigger breasts, I developed my vocabulary. I’m now passing on that neuroticism (but a healthy one!) to my daughter. (she’s blonde too!)

Having a great vocabulary makes it easier to communicate, gives you self-esteem and frankly, can be a bit of a relationship ‘gatekeeper’. If the guy you’re dating can’t understand what you’re talking about because you have an extensive vocabulary, maybe you should leave him to the dance club girls.

Here’s a great article from College Resources on making yourself sound better.

College Resources

Resource Center → Getting in & Applying to College → Standardized Tests → Improving Your Vocabulary

(Reasonably) Pain-Free Ways to Improve Your Vocabulary

Sure, a great vocabulary is bound to enhance your already sparkling conversation skills. Of course, even better than acquiring some witty bon mots, a strong vocabulary will help expand your reading comprehension skills in general and your standardized test scores in particular. And, fortunately, acquiring a vocabulary doesn’t have to be a painful process, especially if you employ a variety of methods.

Here are few ideas for how to build a robust vocabulary:

Read a lot. Seriously, replace an hour of TV with an hour of reading every day (outside of school assignments) and you’ll make a lot of progress toward building an amazing vocabulary.

Remember, quality writing over fluff. We’re sorry to report that People magazine, US Weekly, and USA Today do not count. You can read them, but don’t expect them to enhance your reading comprehension or vocabulary or improve your performance on the SAT/ACT.

Read a variety of literature on a variety of topics. Magazines, daily newspapers, online blogs and books cover all sorts of issues. While you can start with your favorite subjects (say the arts, currents events or maybe science), be sure to expand your horizons and catch up on a myriad of other areas.

Read actively. It won’t help if you just pull a random book off the shelf and passively begin to skim through it. Make sure you understand what it is that you are reading. Try to figure out the meaning of unfamiliar words through their context and use a dictionary when you need assistance. Then, try to incorporate new vocabulary into your own!

Don’t just read, listen. Modify your TV habits and start incorporating an occasional episode of PBS News Hour or a nature documentary. TED Talks are another great (and fascinating!) option. We also recommend listening to NPR every once in a while on the radio. Remember – every tip above can be applied to listening as well!

Make it fun. Building your vocabulary doesn’t have to be boring. Try to stump your parents by using new words at the dinner table. Or, see who amongst your friends can “collect” more unusual words each week. Activities like this provide more effective ways to build your vocabulary than if you just memorized lists of words and their definitions.

To help you begin, we’ve compiled a list of great resources. However, this is just a start. We encourage you to cultivate your own list as well.
•Newspapers: The New York Times; The Washington Post; The Wall Street Journal
•Magazines: The New Yorker; Foreign Affairs; Time; National Geographic
•Online Magazines/Blogs: Huffington Post; Salon
•Books: There are simply too many great authors and books to list here, but check out “best” lists such as the Modern Library’s “Top 100 Novels” and “Top 100 Nonfiction Books” as well as anthologies such as the annual “Best American Short Stories” and the “Best American Essays.”
•Radio/TV: PBS (Frontline, Newshour, NOVA); NPR (On Point, Talk of the Nation, All Things Considered, Fresh Air, Radiolab, Planet Money)

50 Shades of Things On My Mind


Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades of Grey

 

The last romance  man in my life used to accuse me of seeing everything black and white Another reason we aren’t together, he didn’t understand my mind at all.   In his defense though, I DO see things black and white when it comes to my worldview.  My principals are black and white.  My love is black and white. Only to me though, many people don’t understand why I allow people in my life that they consider “lesser”…see?  That’s their black and white.  Understanding is the key!   I always see the grey in things I don’t understand.  Why?  Because the blacks and whites are what makes the grey….both literally and figuratively.  I sort things problems into blacks and whites to better understand…to make my world more orderly. OMG that sounds so OCD!  Anyway, here are the greys I’m trying to sort out right now.

  • The big Abortion brouhaha that is currently taking our collective minds off of rising inflation, the madness of the IRS and double talk from our current administration.  Why are we arguing about this?  I’m a feminist.  I believe in both Pro-Life and Pro-Choice.  As a Mother who was told for 12 years of marriage I could never have kids and went through the  $$$ testing, in vitro , foster child, adoptive child processes I just don’t understand.   Why would any woman get an abortion after the second trimester?  Why?  Do you pro-life feminists not realize you are setting feminism back by hundreds of years by exploiting our “right to change our minds” scenario?  During the second trimester you can feel the baby moving inside you.  You may even get an ultra-sound that shows your baby sucking his/her thumb in utero.  By 20 weeks most Mothers have bonded with the baby they are carrying. One of my friends couldn’t carry her baby full term and the baby was born at 23 weeks.  This child is a beautiful blessing for my friend and is part of society.   If you were raped, then by all means you shouldn’t have to feel shame for getting an abortion, but that’s usually done right away.  If your religion says “no” then “so”?  Your relationship with God is one on one and He knows what’s in your heart.  Now, on the Pro-Choice side,  if a woman truly wants to have an abortion due to health, finances, ignorance, genetic counseling, then she’s going to have one.  That’s that!  Why put women through the horror most women in third world countries and some 1st world countries must endure due to sloppy “doing it for the money” Doctors, or self-inflicted coat hanger abortions?  Legal abortions protect women.  Why would our government see this as bad?  Our government is not our moral compass, we the people are. We haven’t illegalized guns, why should we illegalize abortion?  And another thing, if the fetus isn’t a “living being” then why when someone kills a pregnant woman they are charged with TWO deaths?  Why so much hypocrisy in our government?  Why?  If we do this to women are we going to tell men they can only be a “baby Daddy” a limited amount of times and then he must be snipped?    Here’s an idea….why don’t we just expect people to take responsibility for their actions and not let the government tell us how to run our lives?  What a novel idea!
  • Okay, now for some fun pop-culture greys.  Sharknado.  A social media phenomenon and one of the worst movies ever made.  What does this say about us as a society?  I truly can’t find the black and white in this one.
  • And to end these ramblings, the book that spawned see what I did there? this blog post:  Fifty Shades of Grey.  After reading snippets of it in 2011, I swore I wouldn’t read it.  But a newlywed friend from my high school days begged me to read it.  BEGGED ME!  She says she values my opinion. So for you Claudia?  The book did not turn me on.  The characters were two-dimensional.  And after reading it, I didn’t want to lay Christian Grey, I wanted to psycho-analyze him.  It was at once repelling and degrading.  It was like bullet points 1 and 2 above.   In my summary, here’s an intelligent, newly graduated from college protagonist who is still a virgin falling for a handsome man with money, power and HUGE issues.  Why is this story such a sensation?  You remember the love of my life John?  Remember how handsome, sexy, electric we were together?  Remember how his family owned hotels on the Greek Islands?  Remember how I couldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him?  Why do we celebrate dysfunction?  Why?  The best thing about the book is that the protagonist, Anastasia, listened to her inner voice and did what was right for her as well as for him.   She left him.  Still my friend Claudia?  smile

Which Avenger Have You Dated?


The Avengers

The Avengers

 

Okay, so I’m not up-to-date on popular movies.  Though both my teens have seen “THE AVENGERS” multiple times, I have not and since it was a long weekend, they begged me to watch it with them.  It wasn’t bad…not bad at all!  Robert Downey, Jr. is not one of my favorite actors, though I do applaud his strength in overcoming his addictions, and for a diminutive man, he’s attractive.  I avoided this movie because I regarded it as a good popcorn selling type of movie (i.e, not much story, but lots of action).  Those kinds of movies worked for my husband and father, but me?  not so much.  I was surprised.   When it was over, we discussed which super hero was our favorite and why and then took it a step further and applied it to relationships.  Remember, there’s no scientific basis here, just experience and viewpoints.

IRON MAN/TONY STARK

PROS:  Tony stark is brilliant.  He’s a leader.  He’s a smooth jokester.  He thinks out of the box and makes good investments.  He’s wealthy.  And he’s not bad looking.  He also likes to party.

CONS: Tony Stark is the quintessential narcissist. Everything revolves around him and he is better than anyone he knows.  He has father issues.  He is a playboy.  He has control issues.  Think Alex Rodriguez in baseball.  Think young Warren Beatty.  He’s sadistically sarcastic.  Pepper Potts is a great match for him as she understands these things, but honestly, having a relationship with Iron Man would not only be scary because of his super powers, but mainly because of his ego.  Poor Pepper will never find romance with a man like this, though she will find great pleasure in taking him down a notch or two.

THOR/THOR ODINSON

PROS: He’s a god.  He can do anything.  He’s handsome.  He’s self-assured.  He’s strong.  He is Master of his Destiny.  He’s probably really good at lovemaking, I mean he’s a god, he knows!

CONS:  He’s a god.  He can do anything.  He’s condescending.  You’re nothing but a weak species:  HUMAN.   Why would he need you?  Why would he need anyone?  He is Master of his Destiny.  The only control you will have in this relationship is the control he grants you—then reminds you that he granted it to you.  The kind of woman he would need would be more a groupie than a complete person…or a subservient.

CAPTAIN AMERICA/STEVEN “STEVE”  GRANT ROGERS

PROS: He is a natural born leader who always tries to do the right thing.  He is dependable. He is empathetic, principled and logical.  He wants to learn new things.  He’ll take one for the team if he has to and if he believes in the quest. He’s a team player.  He is humble.   He doesn’t care what others think, he does what has to be done.  A baseball parallel would be the Texas Rangers Adrian Beltre.   A literary character parallel would be Atticus Finch.  In a relationship, this is the man all your friends wished they had.  He does seem to think progressively though, so he could be convinced if you gave him a logical argument.

CONS: His baggage is in what he’s seen and lamenting what could be which makes him sentimental but melancholy.  He’s a bit of a goody two shoes, which means he could be a bit uptight.  Not a lot of room for hedonism here.  He might not be too “experimental” in bed.

 

THE HULK/Dr. ROBERT BRUCE BANNER

PROS:  He’s beastly strong.  He doesn’t care what others think.  He’s his own man.  He’s brilliant.  He’s HUGE! If you’re into taboo sex, this guy would be the one!  He would accept any woman who gave him an iota of attention.  NO one would mess with him when he’s angry, they can see in his eyes when the transformation begins.

CONS:  He’s green.  He’s always angry. He’s bi-polar.  He’s secretive. He blames the world for his problems.  He likes to be alone, but doesn’t really.  He’s conflicted.  He’s ANGRY!  He could hurt you, then blame it on the transition.  He has deep-seeded issues.   He’s inconsistent.  He’s bullheaded.  He’s more a tool than a person. He likes you one minute, then turns on you the next.  His loyalty is scattershot.   Too bad Tom doesn’t read this anymore, I think he could relate. 

 

HAWKEYE/CLINTON “CLINT” FRANCIS BARTON

PROS:  This guy is cutting edge!  He’s up on all the new inventions, weapons and technology. He would be the guy with the biggest TV in his man cave.  He is loyal and has many friends.  He’s fun to party with.   He has a sharp wit.  He’s also precise.  He won’t quit until the mission is complete which would make him an awesome lover. He’s a one-woman man and would be faithful.  He has lots to offer to the woman with the most patience.  I know this one well!

CONS:  He’s insecure, always feeling he needs to prove himself.  He fights easily, and is usually the one to begin it.  He’s more a follower than a leader.  He second-guesses himself in relationships, but is confident in work.  He seems like he’s on the verge of breaking at any time.

 

BLACK WIDOW/

PROS:  She is independent and doesn’t need a man for anything she can’t do herself.  She’s smart.  She’s beautiful.  She’s athletic.  A man would have to be patient and put his needs on the back burner to make a go of this relationship.  He would also have to be quite trusting.

CONS:  She isn’t very nurturing and doesn’t have time for romance.  Wait, to many men, this would be a PRO instead of a CON  She’s secretive, manipulative and not always loyal.  She does what is best for her, unless she cares about you, then you’re thrown a bone. She’s a bit on the hard side and would have been a great colonist.

 

So now you have the background, take the poll below.  It’s all in fun!

 

 

 

The Borgias and Rhetoric and Catholicism: Truth or Drama?


The Borgias:  A Showtime Series

The Borgias: A Showtime Series

 

Let’s face it.  Drama is interesting.  It is!  Think of what our lives would be like without it?  With whom would we compare our lives?  How would the more insecure of us find substance in our little lives without having a lessor one with which to compare?  Drama makes us feel better about ourselves.  Drama adds excitement to the mundane.  Drama makes us feel alive.

I was watching The Borgias last night yes, I’m admitting to it and reveled at how truly enticing this series is to me.  It’s not just that The Borgias were the first Mafia family.  It’s not just that the characters are so beautiful well most of them.  It’s not just the time in which it is set.  (one of my favorite historical times)  But what TRULY makes it worth watching is how the writers blur the lines between true history and “drama”.  In grad school I had an advisor that loved to debate the merits of what makes a perfect story (i.e. book or movie or play) I loved hanging out with him when I was writing a paper (Big props to you Dr. Litton)  He and I would debate every Rhetorician/Philosopher’s idea from Aristotle to Freud from  E.M. Forster to Nietzsche as to what made the perfect story.  We both had big dreams of being writers. What we both agreed upon, and what I have always kept is that Rhetoric is not just style over substance.  It is not just drama over reality.  Rhetoric is not just, as Plato so ridiculously stated, “mere flattery”.  No, Rhetoric is the blending of the black and white.  Rhetoric has a substantive as well as stylistic genome….and a good story, like good bone structure is a gift.

For the sake of today’s argument, and to keep you reading, I won’t dissect or re-educate you on the five canons of Rhetoric.  What I will do is explain why I think drama is necessary in our lives using rhetoric as my argument and the Showtime Series The Borgias as my subject.  Using some of the rhetorical and philosophical thoughts of greater thinkers than me, I will try to convince you of my argument:  Drama is a necessary evil.   Yeah okay, I may just be showing off my grad degree in Rhetoric, but shouldn’t I? Sheesh, I’m still paying for it!  Since literary devices are so akin to rhetorical devices, those of you who are purists may want to argue later….to that I say, “Bring it” with a smile.

 

Let’s start with Kenneth Burke who stated:

The most characteristic concern of rhetoric [is] the manipulation of men’s beliefs for political ends….the basic function of rhetoric [is] the use of words by human agents to form attitudes or to induce actions in other human agents.

I don’t know much about the writers of The Borgias.  Are they Catholic?  Are they Jewish?  Are they Atheistic?  Or are they just hacks getting paid to write an almost semi-porn series with historical overtones?  In other words, what is their will for writing this series?  In watching it, and because I tend to be optimistic, I think they are truly attempting to appeal to the more educated viewer while also appealing to the “voyeur” viewer who really is just watching it for entertainment.  For instance, the Pope Rodrigo (Alexander VI) quotes Socrates while his son Cesare lustfully beds his daughter Lucrezia.  In skillfully blending the two appeals, the writers attract a larger audience through drama.  Personally, the show has made me want to know more about The House of Borgia in order to delineate between dramatic truth and manufactured drama.  Which leads me to the next definition of Rhetoric by Francis Bacon who wrote in (1561-1626): Advancement of Learning:

  The duty and office of rhetoric is to apply reason to imagination for the better moving of the will.

Using Bacon’s definition, this would mean the writers of The Borgias are forcing us, the viewers, to use our imagination to make willfull observations, right?  But are they for the better?  I am not Catholic, but I empathize with those who are in regards to this series.  Has the Catholic Church become the media darling of all things wrong with religion?  Is this series just another testament to the abuses of the Catholic Church?  As a Protestant, I have suffered and witnessed  the hypocrisy of those who feel their religious worldview is better than others. It just seems that the Catholic Church has a history of drama; from the Borgias to medieval relics to modern day pedophilic priests.   Has the Catholic Church publically asked for an apology from the writers for making their religion look like a God-ordained form of organized crime?  And would other religions react the same?  Or do the writers have a more noble, daresay, religious agenda by athey showing that though religious, we are all still sinners….and there is no sin greater than another? nota bene:  the Catholic Church DOES believe that some sins are greater than others and they are divided into mortal and venial sins. Just knowing that makes a difference in applying reason to imagination. So what indeed are the writers’ trying to persuade their audience to see or believe?  Which leads me to….Sappho who was far from being religious:

Persuasion is Aphrodite’s daughter: it is she who beguiles our mortal hearts (frg 90).

Good rhetoric, communication, poetry,  writing, film, and speech are designed to persuade someone to see the artist’s point of view.  I’m not always the most fun person to watch a movie with, and definitely not commercials.  I immediately try to pinpoint the persuasive element behind the words, images, sounds and actions of others.  This could also be a reason I have difficult times in relationships!  ssshh!!  What I do know, is that if you can beguile my mortal heart, you have my attention.  The writers of The Borgias have done that for me.  Though I don’t condone nudity and violence for the sake of shocking the viewer into watching more, I do appreciate the artful mixing of history and fantasy to tell a good story. And I also appreciate drama that has intellect.  And maybe that’s where I should end this, because in the end, The Borgias is just a dramatic television series meant to entertain.  Don’t you think?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes, Most of the Time, Every Time


Break-Up

My daughter’s boyfriend called her two days before school was out and broke up with her.  I was so excited, because I really don’t like him! She is handling it semi-well.  For the last two days of school when she was around him, she would smile, talk to him nicely and act carefree.  Her friends were in awe of her strength, I mean, they had been dating since before Thanksgiving! And we all know that in teenaged minds, that’s an eternity! But at home she was morose and tearful.  She second-guessed herself.  She worried that she had done something wrong.  She just KNEW she would never have another boyfriend like him.   I told her to remember all the things she didn’t like about him and write them down because sometimes when we read things after experiencing them, it eases the pain and gives us insight into ourselves.  I even helped her when she forgot many of the things he did that upset her easy for me, each time he upset her  during their relationship, I wanted to butt-kick him to the next county!   So here’s what she wrote:

  1. He’s too emotionally detached.
  2. He doesn’t celebrate holidays, not even Christmas.
  3. He’s a big flirt.
  4. He’s too short.
  5. He has a bad relationship with his parents.
  6. He’s secretive.
  7. We never hang out except at school.
  8. He’s only been to my house twice.
  9. He’s a former drug user.
  10. He’s been to bed with former girlfriends……
  11. He didn’t take me to the dance.
  12. He’s always trying to get me to go to bed with him.
  13. He’s more interested in kissing and touching me than in talking and spending time together.
  14. He goes to concerts with his guy friends, but never asks me.
  15. He can’t drive, no driver’s license and doesn’t want one.
  16. He’s stingy.

Yeah, I didn’t even know some of these things….check the former italicized sentence.  I would now butt AND face kick him to New York!

So I explained to my lovely daughter that sometimes, we have preconceived notions of what is right for us and what isn’t.  Sometimes, we believe we can change a guy or that he will change for us.  Sometimes, we just overlook the bad because he gives us what we need at the time.  Sometimes, we just like being told we’re beautiful.

Most of the time we make excuses for him.  Most of the time we can be patient with behavior we don’t condone.  Most of the time we forget that we don’t have as many friends as we once had because we have him, though now we have his friends.

Every time he upsets us, a bit of the love dies because he does it again.  Every time.

But sometimes isn’t good.  Most of the time is better.  Every time is important in several situations…..every time is important because we can truly analyze character, respect and feeling.  If the every times are negative, then he needs to go and you are wasting your goodness on someone who doesn’t want it.  The key is to realize that you will have relationships with many people, and by using the sometimes, most of the time and every time equation, you can get a better grip on your mind when your emotion is carrying you away.

The Sublimity of Techno-Communication


beach

Someone told me the other day that I’m more myself when I blog or write letters than I am when I tweet.  I suppose its the 140 character limit or maybe I’m just so verbose, I can get my point across better here sometimes!  Anyway, I just wanted to share a letter that I found very creative, very sweet and very thoughtful and edited for personal reasons!   I must admit, it was a bit of a corroboration as we had been discussing it for months.  But he beat me to it!  You have to click on the links to get the full effect, but I think it’s so sweet!   See what you think!  This is what I get for teasing someone about how little they say!  The links are underlined.

Dear Gayle,

I am so looking forward to our  vacation.  I’m so glad we are both enamored of the ocean and its music.   I know it will probably rain, but waves and rain are one of those communions you find romantic right? Wouldn’t it be nice  if we had thought of this years ago?  I just want you to know that I’m looking forward to that week more than a 40 day dream.  And since I know now what it really means to see, there are no more lies.  I want it that way.   And don’t worry, I still  find your BIG FIVE enticing but not as enticing as your green eyes!   Call me! xxooxx

I know, I’m a lucky person to have such creative people in my life aren’t I?  What do you think?

6 Sure Signs You’re a Sapiosexual


words

 

 

Urban Dictionary defines “sapiosexual” as ” (adj) A form of sexual orientation characterized by a strong attraction to intelligence in others, often regardless of gender and/or conventional attractiveness.”  Well, Urban Dictionary notwithstanding, a sapiosexual is someone who finds intelligence the most sexually attractive feature of another.   Since the brain is the largest sexual organ of both sexes yeah, I hear some of you snickering how size doesn’t matter a sapiosexual person isn’t as taken by visual stimuli as they are with intellect and wit.   This isn’t to say that sapiosexuals aren’t attracted to attractive people, but the attractive person MUST have a keen mind.   Still confused?  Here are 6 sure signs you’re a sapiosexual.

1. When playing Scrabble or Words with Friends, you know Sapiosexual isn’t a valid word but you’re impressed that they tried to use it any way. Words can be so damned sexy!

Here are some of my favorite words: hedonistic, cacophony, tempestuous, fervent, cognoscente, voluminous, indelible, enigmatic, serendipity, retronym, flourish, luminous, assiduous, poignant, impassioned, and contentious.  Funny, some of these words could describe my ideal man!

 

2.  You can spot a pseudo-sapiosexual which means if you can spot a fake one, you’re a real one,  by how they text, write letters or tweet.  They may want to impress with their vocabulary, but if they misspell, dangle participles unless its a measure of enticement or use words out of context, their intellectual virility may parallel their performance.  Well okay, with phone usage, you must build in a buffer for auto-correct mistakes.  For example, the following two sentences use uncommon words.  One is correct, the other isn’t.  Can you spot the sapiosexual sentence?

His braggadocio was acerbic in a pleasurable way.  His biting wit was at once tempting and revolting.  Her rationale knew better than to get involved with such a boorish character, but her hubris caused her to lucubrate during nights they weren’t together as to how to channel his discourse into intercourse.

or

Though he ruminated as to why he consistently chose women who were nymphatic, disingenuine and inane, he was happy he had a woman who could turn heads with her physique.

3.    Sapiosexuals actually LISTEN to lyrics of songs and will happily choose Leonard Cohen over Lil Wayne.  The brain must be stimulated and teased with feathery words, not shanked by “in your face” sexual terminology.

4.   A Sapiosexual understands that the best foreplay is a philosophical discussion.  Or a debate without anger but filled with respect for the other’s thoughts.  Or a union of words, emotions and thoughts made flesh.  Mind and flesh orgasms are the best!

5.   A Sapiosexual  will analyze before they finalize.  They are informed not just opinionated. They know what constitutes an impractical Utopian.

6.  A Sapiosexual is more impressed by the flexing of the intellect than the flexing of the biceps.

So….do any of these describe you?