Next month we’re moving, and so I’m obtaining some estimates from (hopefully) reputable movers. One guy was very professional, and wrote up a very thorough free estimate (including references!). There was one thing that concerned me:
Does this mean our couch, TV and PVR will be ‘stored’ in his den?
This is a fairly common mistake in punctuation (and, I know, I shouldn’t throw stones from my glass house). How do people learn to make this error? They seem to be conflating emphasis markers like exclamation marks with quotation marks.
A good portion of these have geeky connotations, so I thought I’d generate a little list using that entry, the site it linked to, and a bit of creative searching. There’s no way to verify if these are all legit, but they’re all from reports I found on the web–I didn’t make any of them up.
Here’s the list thus far, feel free to offer additions:
Strider – It could have been worse, he could’ve been named Pippin.
Arwen – Again, it could have been Eowyn. Plus, it’s quite a pretty name.
Lestat – “I can’t understand why junior keeps wearing all that white makeup…”
Neo – You might as well name the kid “Jesus”.
Keanu – See above.
Nikita – Apparently from the Elton John song, not from La Femme Nikita, but we can hope.
Regardless, there’s a term in the essay which I didn’t know: ‘conurbates’. Here’s the usage:
As the global village conurbates, however, our emotional habits are shifting. We are easing towards a slight liberation from our national inhibitions – although hopefully not losing them completely. Our uptightness is, after all, a huge part of our charm.
The other day I was thinking about words that sound like the opposite of their definitions. It’s a pretty subjective exercise, but these are the three that occurred to me:
natty – It means ‘dapper’, but I always think of gnats. Plus, words that end in ‘ty’ tend to seem negative to me–’dirty’, ‘gritty’, ‘faulty’ and so forth.
quotidian – A very peculiar word to describe something that’s commonplace. The ‘q’ suggests that it ought to refer to something exotic.
solvent – As in, ‘having enough money’. I learned the other, more quotidian (heh) definition first, and I always imagined that it should mean that you didn’t have enough money–that it had dissolved.
In university, I was offered some (relatively-speaking) high-paying work by a prof in my department. He brought me into his office and asked me ‘how solvent are you these days?’ I didn’t know that usage at the time, so I replied ‘ah, you know, as solvent as the next guy’. I don’t know if I fooled him or not.
What words do you think sound the opposite of what they mean?
I don’t read Harper’s Magazine very often, because I don’t read very many magazines, and I avoid issues which prominently feature American politics. When I do pick up a copy, though, I always really enjoy it.
I finally got around to reading the December, 2006 issue, and there was so much to like about it:
Garret Keizer’s “Loaded” is the most erudite, elegant essay I’ve ever read about gun control: “Anyone who owns firearms for reasons other than hunting and sport shooting (neither of which I do) has admitted that he or she is willing to kill another human beingÃ¢â‚¬â€as opposed to the more civilized course of allowing human beings to be killed by paid functionaries on his or her behalf.”
“Clash of the Time Lords” by Michelle Stacey, about the shift from solar to atomic time.
Finally, “Kinderscenen” is yet another beautiful, perfect short story by John Updike. He is such a fine, fine writer: “There is on this shadowy side (its lawn faintly spongy underfoot) the stillness of things Toby doesn’t like to think about–church, and deep woods, and cemetaries where a single potted plant has been left in memory of someone, but, itself forgotten, has long dried out and died.” I have mixed feelings about linking to it, but the whole story is online.
The HFPA has about 90 members who disseminate information about movies and television to the world through their various publications throughout the world. HFPA members attend more than 300 press conference-style interviews and countless movie and television screenings throughout each year.
I’d imagine that it’s much easier to influence 90-odd journalists than it is to curry favour with rally support among 6000 members of the Academy. I was about to write “not that it really matters”, but apparently these awards do have serious impact on DVD rental and sales volume. So it’s not just a question of who wins the popularity contest. I’m not suggesting there’s a massive conspiracy or anything–I was just surprised by how few people are involved in the selection provess.
UPDATE: I wanted to make sure I was using ‘curry favour’ correctly, so I checked. It apparently refers specifically to ingratiation with a superior. You learn something new every day.
Last year I wrote about (new DNS currently breaking that page, but hopefully it’ll resolve soon) an SUV that flipped almost directly below my building. It slid to a halt directly outside the ambulance dispatch building. The driver, as you might imagine, received prompt medical attention. I said at the time that that was ‘the definition of good luck’.
Even in the narrow range of car accidents, that example doesn’t come close to this one. From The Cellar’s Image of the Day, here’s a truly astonishing example of ill fortunate narrowly averted. Be sure to scroll down the page, and read the description to get the full picture of how insanely lucky the driver of the pickup was.