February 12th, 2003

rivka as ww

I’m not crazy, I’m eccentric

A few random thoughts:

Hours slept in the past 3 days: 12
Props used in this morning’s copyright class: 4, if you don’t count the wall with the stain on it (apple, decorative wax apple, apple-shaped candle, and apple-shaped jar)
Props eaten in this morning’s copyright class: 1
This morning’s copyright class, disaster or rousing success? It was one or the other, but I couldn’t tell. I love this stuff so much, and I just hope the students feel some of the love.

Redundancies and language:

Buffy doesn’t love Spike “still”? Like the way I’m not still a Supreme Court Justice? Sure, fine, whatever. And: Gaying up by fantasizing about Captain Archer? You’re kidding, right? Kirk, Picard, Sisko, as well as noncaptains Spock, Chakotay, Tuvok, Sulu, Chekov, and even Data I’ll give you, but Archer’s got more crags than the Rocky Mountains.

O Luthors, I swoon for you. Though I wish Lex would use proper grammar/wording. Left over from “Rush,” I object to the use of “very unique” and “completely unique.” It’s a binary condition, Lex. Now, I can actually see an argument to the contrary: we can suppose that each snowflake, and each fingerprint, is unique, but they’re only trivially so. Unique, but still like a lot of other things. The kryptoworms, on the other hand, aren’t like anything on Earth (except for Clark. And maybe Kyla and all her relatives. But Lex doesn’t know that, so forget them). In that sense, kryptoworms are “very unique.” Still, it makes me queasy. I’d prefer “completely unlike any other life form on Earth.”

Also? Everyone --> his or her. Anyone --> his or her. People --> their. Not everyone/anyone --> their. Everybody does, or everybody doesn’t, but everybody doesn’t do; he does and she does, but they do.

Descriptively, I’m losing this battle. God knows my students think it’s acceptable to use “their” in papers, for “everyone” or for “the FCC,” the latter of which might be ok in England but just isn’t in America. But I refuse to believe that English public school-educated Lex wouldn’t use prescriptive language, unless it would make him sound incredibly weird, which pluralizing wouldn’t. My wonderful linguistics professor pointed out that everyone --> his, the formerly acceptable usage, is just as wrong (off by one aspect, to wit gender) as everyone --> their (off by one aspect, number), but there are easy nonsexist workarounds. Drifting further off topic, I did once have the opportunity, when dining with a group of friends, to say correctly “Someone left her coat,” which was fun.

Sure, I’m a fine one to complain when my “Also?” just textualized a speaking habit that really annoys many people, the practice of making a declarative statement into a question by using rising intonation. That wouldn’t be such a bad thing if the rising intonation always signaled a question, but it doesn’t. Unless we call all such utterances rhetorical questions, in which case? The category loses its meaning. Anyhow, TPTB don’t seem to let actors use that rising intonation generally, even on shows such as Buffy & Smallville where it would be age-appropriate, but they allow every other godawful linguistic habit, with the possible exception of telling KK to give up hiding her Canadian accent and move her upper lip.

Travel, arrival:

I’ll be leaving Friday morning for the Harvard High School Speech & Debate Tournament, which I have attended as competitor and then staff for more than half of my life. Scary, but I love the tournament. I don’t love the hellish process of dealing with a thousand kids and their parents and teachers and bus drivers, together and seriatim, but I love being helpful to my old debate team, and I love the sense of accomplishment when we manage to make this sprawling, rickety apparatus run, even when it’s snowing and no one can find Van Serg. Van Serg’s one of the about 25 buildings we use – it’s a frelling large tournament – and it’s at the end of Divinity Ave., cutting kitty-corner across a quad (if you see the Fed Ex box, that’s the entrance to the quad), through a parking lot, and up a ramp. Easy, really, and no more than a 20-minute walk in good weather. At least I think so. I’m not sure Cambridge in February has ever had good weather. I had a section in Van Serg lo these many years ago, and by the end of the semester I could actually find it, so I have no idea what the problem is for all these high school kids.

Anyhow, I run the speech ballots. Speech is so odd. They have Extemp, which is extemporaneous speaking on topics drawn from a fishbowl (or some other container), and OO (original oratory), HI and DI (humorous & dramatic interpretation), and Duo (two kids interpreting, but apparently they’re not allowed to look at one another). Everything but Extemp is supposed to be memorized; looking at scripts is, as I understand it, a big no-no. The judges always assume I know something about speech just because I’m running the ballot desk and I can say confidently “we follow the NFL [National Forensic League] rules, to be enforced by the judge.” I just nod at their tales of woe and assure them that the judges are instructed to enforce the rules, as they interpret them.

Also, every year, at least one judge or parent (or bus driver) asks me what I’m going to do when I graduate. Since no one at my own law school quite believes I’m a professor, it won’t surprise me if this continues to happen.

So that’s what’s going on with me. I’m looking forward to the friends skip=600 by the time I get back.