Category Archives: N E R D I N E S S

May the Fourth Be With You

And other bad or questionable, but entirely quotable, Star Wars dialog …

Today is National Star Wars day, and the pundits are out in full force (no joke intended). The movie series is one of the all-time greats – clean, funny, and eminently quotable. Some of the lines have taken a permanent place in the nation’s collective vocabulary, and they’re oddly applicable to most situations. Here are some of the best (and worst). Read and learn. (Hover at the bottom of each picture for my comments.)

Even Master Yoda recognized the superiority of Mr. Darcy. The Force was definitely with Colin Firth in the role.


A Question

clapperI was watching the cooking show, Patricia Heaton Parties. (As an aside, I don’t give parties, but do enjoy watching others go through the gyrations of preparing for them.) Each episode has a theme, and this show’s theme was “Movie Night.”

The party food was nice, though I question including gummy bears in the make-your-own-sundae bar. Don’t get those cold critters in your bridgework. Anyway, considering the theme, I came up with a poll question for you all:


There are no prizes for the correct answer, and talking is encouraged.

For me, the answer is that it depends on the movie. If it’s a weeper, I’m Greta Garbo and want to be alone. I have a violently terrible cry face and refuse to have others see it.

If it’s a rom com, commentary is good. If it’s a bad Austen adaptation, commentary is vital to surviving the experience. If it’s a time bending SciFi sort of deal, I prefer to be confused in solitude.

Horror I don’t watch anymore, and mysteries are a maybe.

No matter what the movie, I don’t mind spoilers.

So, let us know whether you watch in the quiet or in a crowd.

Clapper board photo courtesy of Horia Varlan, via Flickr.


What does your dog say?

Bad News: It appears that nobody really knows what the fox says. He could be spouting verses from the Satanic bible or quoting great literature. He could also be thinking, “Don’t release the hounds!”

Good News (sort of): We may soon know what our dogs say. Swedish researchers, inspired by the movie Up (“Squirrel!”) are working on a machine which would translate your dog’s sounds into words by use of EEG sensoring, micro-computing, and brain-computer interface software. The machine is called “No More Woof” and will allow your dog to freely express aloud such thoughts as, “I’m hungry — but I don’t like this!” and “Who is that woman; she looks nice!” They also want to produce a more uncensored version to allow your dog to express his inappropriate thoughts as well. (And you were embarrassed when your dog was “overly friendly” with house guests during mating season. Soon, Fido will have the ability to actually say what he’s thinking in those unguarded moments. Ah, technology!)

I could probably tell you most of what our elder statesman, Toby, is thinking, but hearing Chloe’s thoughts would probably cause my brain to explode through my ears. She’s blonde in every sense of the word.

Not really Chloe, but it looks (and sounds) like her.

Not really Chloe, but it looks (and sounds) like her.

This is SO Toby when he hears Larry's car coming up the driveway.

This is SO Toby when he hears Larry’s car coming up the driveway.

Peppers or Horses?

chocolate-covered-jalapenos-3023Valentine’s Day is drawing near, so I went looking around the web for gift possibilities. I had my eye out for something that is not the same old thing.

First I discovered this unusual treat: chocolate-covered jalapenos. They’re touted as perfect for one’s Valentine, being both hot and sweet.

Um, okay. Definitely different. (Have you tasted these? I think I’ll stick with strawberries.)

And then I stumbled upon Trotify, a device that makes your bike sound like a horse.

Trotify-2-537x358Yes, you read that right, like a horse. (Who thinks of these things?)

And how great is this? Because it’s a gift for someone who has everything!

Even a nerd, for some assembly is required.

Perfect for the hipster, recalling the charm of urban horsemanship without the fuss or bother.

Just right for the history buff too … if she rides a bicycle. And doesn’t mind a making little noise.

Golly, what would Jane think of this whimsical device? (What would my school principal think, if I rode my Trotified bike through the halls?)

So which would you prefer to receive for Valentine’s, the pepper or the horse?

Before you answer, watch the little video.

A perfect Christmas present for Mrs. Bennet or Sir Walter Elliot . . .

It’s about that time of year. Halloween is almost here, so you know what that means. In the next couple of weeks we’ll hear Christmas music in the stores and begin to see ads urging us to buy the perfect Christmas present to prove how much we love those special people in our lives.

The Japan Daily Press has the answer for you, my friends – a wallet which can run away from you and scream if you catch it. Buy this gift for the spendthrift in your life and help them to control their out-of-control consumerism.

This wallet is slower than a dead possum. Even I could catch it.

This wallet is slower than a dead possum. Even I could catch it.

Of course, if you buy it for yourself first, you may not go Christmas shopping at all.

Sir Walter Elliot and his daughters

Sir Walter Elliot
and his daughters

When you catch the runaway wallet, it screams, “Don’t touch me!” or “Help me!” It will even e-mail your mother, letting her know that she needs to intervene. Good luck with that in my case. AT&T and Verizon don’t get reception in heaven.

You can shut the wallet up and stop it in its tracks by switching it from “Save Mode” to “Consume Mode,” or perhaps you could just change modes on yourself instead.

I can’t help but think that Sir Walter and Elizabeth Elliot, Mary Musgrove, Mrs. Bennet, and Lydia would have greatly benefited from such gift, for reforming them was out of the question.

First the Oxford comma and now the apostrophe? Where will the madness end?

National Punctuation DayIn case you missed it, last Tuesday, September 24, was the tenth annual National Punctuation Day. The nerd holiday was founded to draw attention to often misused and frequently overlooked punctuation marks such as semicolons and ellipses. Perhaps we should use this time to reflect on a mark which may soon die out of the language due to texting abuse. Let’s observe a moment of silence for the next symbol expected to begin dying the same slow, agonizing death which still tortures the Oxford comma.

“Trend lines don’t look all that promising for the long-term security of apostrophes as a standard in written English,” wrote Slate’s Matthew Malady. Regardless of what Malady thinks, you may take some comfort from the information that the Apostrophe Protection Society, based in England, is at Defcon 5.

According to the Kill the Apostrophe website, the apostrophe “serves only to annoy those who know how it is supposed to be used and to confuse those who don’t.” Author James Harbeck said last week that the marks don’t add clarity and are usually used incorrectly. While I agree that apostrophes are used improperly much of the time, I think that the writer who uses them correctly definitely improves her ability to convey exactly what she means. An apostrophe is the difference between, “You’re foul,” and, “Your foul.” Need I explain further? apostrophe

For that reason, I will do as I’ve always done and cling to my apostrophes. Even if every brand name on the planet abandons them (Starbucks, Folgers, Penneys, and Sears), and their neglect is the most common grammatical error on Twitter (im, wont, cant, dont, and id), I will never stop using them. Do these people truly not see a difference between “cant” and “can’t”? The words actually mean different things. I cannot live in a world in which “Ill” and “I’ll” are used interchangeably. It makes my brain hurt.

However, there is a ray of hope on that bleak grammatical horizon. The head of U.S. dictionaries at Oxford University Press, Katherine Martin, has observed that today’s autocorrect programs are designed around apostrophe use. She points out that while companies coding spell checkers and speech-to-text apps keep using apostrophes, there will be continuity, and there will be continuation. (Nod to Jane Austen.)

Ms. Martin added, “Language is constantly changing, but predicting what will happen next is notoriously challenging. It is difficult to believe that copy editors are going to stop distinguishing between ‘its’ and ‘it’s’ in the near future.”

I certainly hope not. I still haven’t given up on the Oxford comma – and I NEVER will. For the record, I will also champion another targeted favorite . . . the ellipsis.

So, apostrophe lovers everywhere, rise up! I will say with Dylan Thomas, “Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Is your summer romance over? Need to breakup? There’s an app for that.

In my area, school will start back two weeks from today, and teachers return to work in one week. In honor of the end of the carefree days of summer, I thought a helpful post advising those entangled in those annoying summer romances (which are fun for a while but begin to lose their appeal after three months) on how to gracefully exit said affaires de cœur might be in order.

In 1975, Paul Simon had a huge, unexpected hit song in “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover.” His helpful girlfriend actually gave him some ideas.

The problem is all inside your head, she said to me
The answer is easy if you take it logically
I’d like to help you in your struggle to be free
There must be fifty ways to leave your lover

She said it’s really not my habit to intrude
Furthermore, I hope my meaning won’t be lost or misconstrued
But I’ll repeat myself, at the risk of being crude
There must be fifty ways to leave your lover
Fifty ways to leave your lover

You just slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don’t need to be coy, Roy
Just get yourself free
Hop on the bus, Gus
You don’t need to discuss much
Just drop off the key, Lee
And get yourself free

Other ways include the agonizing face-to-face painfest; long, handwritten letters; or even Post-It notes left on the dumpee’s car windshield. Paul Simon’s way was bad, but there is a way now that’s even worse.

The tech savvy way to dump your summer fling

The tech savvy way to dump your summer fling

Easy, fast, and cheap - 99 cents!

Easy, fast, and cheap – 99 cents!

BreakupText is an iPhone app designed by Jake Levine and Lauren Leto that will compose a long-winded text in a few seconds. Click on the app and answer a few basic questions such as your gender and whether the relationship was serious or casual. The app then gets to the heart of the matter: the reason for ending the relationship. Did you found someone else, lose interest, or were you eaten by a bear? These guys, being very young, think that long, emotional, dramatic breakup texts are hilarious.

Here’s an actual example:

My dear Johnny, I know you’ve been wondering where I’ve been. I don’t know how to tell you this, but you know how Sara always acts like an idiot when wasted? Well, on our camping trip we saw a bear and she antagonized it. I know you hate when Sara acts like that. Well, I do as well. Because that bear unhinged his jaw and shoved me into his stomach. So yeah, I’m stuck in a bear. Somewhere upstate, it doesn’t feel like this guy moves a lot, I’d ask you to come find me and cut me out but maybe this is for the best, you know? We were fighting all the time, I hated my job, my parents are still upset I didn’t become a lawyer … as I sit in this dark acid hole, I can’t think of enough reasons to punch my way out. So remember me fondly, make it sound like I died a hero. Love you.

I know these texts will never go down in the history of romantic letters. Think of Wentworth’s heartfelt missive to Anne in Persuasion or Darcy’s defensive correspondence in Pride and Prejudice, but at least the person who receives it can have the satisfaction of showing it to all your mutual friends, proving what a jerk you are.

I would never break up in writing of any sort. The written word can come back to bite you, and besides, it’s just cruel. Any time I broke off a relationship, it was face-to-face. What is (was) your preferred method? There are teenagers out there who need the benefit of your years of wisdom. What was the worst breakup you ever went through? Can you laugh about it now?