Archive for January, 2014

Tell Me More

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

et-tu-bruteThere’s a line right at the beginning of August: Osage County (which I absolutely loved) that put me in mind of how a line of dialogue (mainly in theatre/movies) can reveal so much about a character.  The line I have in mind is spoken by the patriarch of the house: “simple pleasures, like finding wild onions by the side of the road, or requited love.”  Perhaps I say this only with the hindsight of what follows, but ‘requited’ love has a portentous undertone. Unrequited love may be sad but one worries how requited love is actually to be repaid (and, as an aside, when was love ever simple?). Another one-liner that stands out for me in this way is when Blanche in Tennessee Williams’ Street Car Named Desire says, “when we’d run away and come back.” Anyone can talk of running away but who in the very same breath comes back?

Grammar Rant

Monday, January 13th, 2014

I am far from a tyrant when it comes to grammar.  I am ready to let slip the odd “less” instead of “fewer” if only because I struggle to decide at times whether something can be counted (because if you can, it’s fewer, folks).  I am even reconciling myself to the demise of the adverb (it’s she ran quickly, people).  But I cannot get past the use of “I” when it should be “me”.  Perhaps this is because the most ardent mis-users are so convinced they are speaking properly.  Since I don’t expect mis-users to believe me, here’s on the topic:

“This confusion usually occurs when you have I/me connected to another pronoun or name with “and” or “or.” I believe that the blackboardconfusion begins when someone says something like “John and me are ready” and that is corrected to “John and I are ready.” The speaker then thinks, “Oh, the word ‘and’ means that I should always use I.” This is not the case. “And” has nothing to do with it; the reason you say “John and I” in that sentence is that “John and I” are the subject. If they were the object, you’d use me: “He told John and me to get ready.”

If you are not good with grammar concepts like subject and objects, there is still a very easy way to decide whether to use I or me: try out the sentence with just I or me (or if you need a plural, we or us – “we” is equivalent to “I” and “us” is equivalent to “me.”):

He told Tom and (I or me?) to get ready.
He told I to get ready? NO
He told me to get ready? YES
Therefore, He told Tom and me to get ready.

Another Year Another List

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

It’s that time of the year again:

Best read – hands down Hector Tobar’s The Barbarian Nurseries if only for his portrayal of a precocious 12 year old, who reads a lot but hasn’t ventured much outside his Californian gated community.  Honourable mention goes to anything by Tim Winton.

Best movie – this one was hard to call.  True to my behind the times form, a contender was an Irish flick from 2007 called Once guy-martinabout a busker.  The music is wonderfully heartfelt without being the least bid sloppy.  In fact, what I liked about the film was its restrained poignancy.  And while I got a head-rushing kick out of Gravity, the movie that made it top of my list this year was the true life head-rush of Closer to the Edge about the Isle of Man TT motorcycle race.  I never would have thought it of myself.  And while the recklessness of it was, of course, captivating (people die, regularly, doing this thing), what made the movie was motorcyclist Guy Martin, demonstrating the wonders that emerge when “ADHD” kids are left to their own devices.

TV:  I don’t have one of these so I am hopelessly behind the times (by way of example, I am now watching season seven of The West Wing (and not enjoying the campaign trail nearly as much as the stuff in the White House)), but I did get wrapped up in the first season of Homeland (I definitely wouldn’t want to work with Carrie).  If only they had Netflix in NZ.

Theatre:  Didn’t see much this year and even less that grabbed me, but Tu by Hone Kouka (based on the Patricia Grace novel) was definitely worth the price of admission.

Happy New Year!