Monday, April 23, 2012

American Cheese

Once upon a time, before the days of real jobs and bills, I embarked on one of those post-college, self-discovery adventures. I ended up living in a village on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica called Puerto Viejo. Despite having contracted a bizarre mosquito-related disease, it was a wonderful experience; there were beautiful beaches, a laid back vibe, and hot local men. But, since it was a village, the culinary options were quite limited.  When a French woman opened a restaurant, my friend and I were excited by the prospect of eating  something for breakfast besides eggs and gallo pinto (a rice and beans dish).

We were stoked when the owner said she served french toast. And she looked like an angel when she walked towards us holding two plates of what I thought were morsels of sweet, egg-soaked, fried, buttery deliciousness. What she set down in front of us was plain old toast.

If we had taken her to court over it, I’m not sure we would have won our case because she might have had us on a technicality: she was French and she did serve us toast.

I guess we got French toast instead of french toast.

Since that traumatic experience, I don’t like to capitalize foods and drinks that include the names of nationalities, such as french fries, swiss cheese, and irish coffee. It’s not incorrect to capitalize them; it’s more of a stylistic choice. I don’t capitalize them for the same stylistic reasons I choose not to wear Crocs: I think it looks a bit clunky. 

Also, it could be confusing. For example, if I wrote, “I remember a little Danish,” it would be impossible to know whether I was referring to the language or a delicious pastry of yore. And if I wrote, “Have you seen that Irish stew?” I could either mean a soup or a troubled Irish person.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Best Sext Ever

I got an exciting sext message from my friend Amy a few minutes ago. (Sext is short for surprising text, right?) It said, “Your book is on Amazon already!”

Isn’t it exciting that I have a friend who, even when she’s sexting, writes out the word your, capitalizes the word Amazon, and closes with appropriate punctuation?

Oh, and I guess I am also pretty excited that this book thing is actually really happening! I’m so excited I want to use a ridiculous number of exclamation points! Can I? Just this once? Thank you.


Here’s the link. It doesn’t come out until September, but check it out. Have your friends check it out. Turn to the person to your right and ask him or her to check it out. Write your congressperson. Does anyone know Oprah? Can you put in a good word for me?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Come and Knock on Our Door

Knock knock

Who’s there?


To who?


Someone told me that joke the other day, and you know what I did?

I laughed.

And then I panicked.

I panicked because I realized that I just laughed out loud at a super corny grammar joke.

I laugh at corny jokes, I listen to talk radio, I stop drinking before I get too drunk because I can’t afford to waste a day to nurse a hangover. What have I become? An adult?

Something strange is definitely going on because I’ve even started to like the word whom. I used to think whom was pointless and pretentious. I agreed with William Safire, author of the New York Times Magazine’s "On Language" who said, “When whom is correct, recast the sentence.” But in the past couple of years, I’ve acquired quite a taste for the word.

There are rumors, however, that the word whom may join the VCR, payphone and Paris Hilton in the land of oblivion. And just when I was developing an appreciation for it! In an effort to save whom from the endangered species list, I’d like to give a quick recap on when to use it:

Let’s pretend for a moment you are Ernest Hemingway. You just came up with the perfect title for your novel about the Spanish Civil War, but you can’t remember whether it should be For Who the Bell Tolls or For Whom the Bell Tolls.

Here’s what you do. You take a sip of your mojito and then ask yourself, “Ernest, old chap, does it make sense to say the bell tolls for him or the bell tolls for he?”

Then you take another sip of your mojito and answer, “It makes sense to say him.”

And that’s how you know that whom is the correct choice.

Here’s the trick: when we answer the question with him, we use whom; when we answer it with he, we use who. (We could substitute him with her and he with she, but him ends with m and so does whom, so it’s easier to remember.)

Let’s try another one:

Pretend you are Dr. Seuss and you just wrote a delightful book about an elephant. Is the correct title Horton Hears a Who or Horton Hears a Whom?