If human beings don’t keep exercising their lips, he thought, their mouths probably seize up. After a few months’ consideration and observation he abandoned this theory in favor of a new one. If they don’t keep on exercising their lips, he thought, their brains start working.
Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Tag Archives: Humor
“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they go by.”
(The Incomparable) Douglas Adams
“Every once in a while I think (jogging) might be good
for me. But I just take two aspirin and lie down
until the thought passes.”
Bernie Rhodenbarr (Burglar in the closet, Lawrence Block)
A young guy was bullied by his sister fair
But behold! he didn’t turn a single hair.
’til he grew taller,
so at her he could holler–
Sis! Howz the weather down there?
[Based on a true story 😉 Also, my very first attempt at a limerick. I’ll try to improve!]
“It is impossible that he should still love me, unless, by kicking him into the mantelpiece during our battle at Hunsford, I affected some severe change in his countenance.”
–Elizabeth Bennet, in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
(Elizabeth is wondering about the change she saw in Mr. Darcy when she met him at Pemberley.)
Written by Seth Grahame-Smith, ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ (from now on called PPZ) is a delightful take on Jane Austen’s incomparable novel. Although I have to admit, I had my doubts before reading the book; Pride and Prejudice (yes, I’m calling it PP from now on. It’s easier, dammit) is, after all, a favourite, and I’m not too tolerant when it comes to rip-offs.
PPZ, however, is a mashup. Not merely a satire, but something like a funny-horror alternate-universe version. I didn’t feel offended even once; the author doesn’t make fun of the novel, nor does he try to demean it. He just puts in ‘ultra-violent zombie mayhem’ into our beloved characters’ lives, and takes us along for this incredibly empowering ride!
Yes, empowering. Seeing Jane kick some zombie butt made up for all the times in PP when (I thought) she should have been more proactive.
It’s true that this was my first brush with a mashup, and the novelty might be a major reason why I liked this book. But I’ll still recommend Jane Austen lovers to give it a try.
This week’s Creative Writing Challenge is to talk about a character in my life; to make this person real for the readers. The post said nothing about pets, but Sherlock is the first person whom I based a fictional character on!
Sherlock is a two-and-almost-half year old yellow Labrador Retriever (yeah, yeah. I know that Sherlock is an awesome name for a Lab!) who first came to us in a cardboard box two years ago. Much training–he has trained me very well to feed him regularly and play with him when he tells me to–and almost 32 Kilos later he has turned out to be a little-too-friendly (according to visitors) and slightly overweight (according to his Vet) but adorable dog. For about 6 hours after getting a bath, Sherlock’s coat is of various shades of cream; he has almost white paws and a camel colored tail, of which body part he is unusually protective, by the way. His weird dark brown-pink nose and his half-cocked right ear set him apart from other Labs.
When Sherlock greets me after being separated from me (whether it’s 5 minutes or 5 hours or 5 days, his enthusiasm is always the same) and wants to be petted, he has this habit of rubbing against my legs. And he has another feline trait: he licks his paws after eating, much like cats clean themselves! I’m not sure if that’s common in most dogs or whether it’s because Sherlock was friends with a kitten when he was 6 months old.
Mealtimes are his favorite times of the day, of course. Except when it’s time for a walk. Or to play catch (his version of catch is where he runs with a ball/toy in his mouth, and I try to ‘catch’ him). When he was 5-6 months old, he thought his name was ‘food’; that’s the word he responded to, instead of ‘Sherlock’. As he grew older, this changed to ‘good boy’ and then to ‘biscuit’. Now he responds to ‘Sherlock’… if he feels like it!
Last year my mother added a small lily pond to her beautiful garden. But we live in a tropical climate and Sherlock loves the water. And lily pond + hot summers + Sherlock = Disaster! No sooner had Sherlock seen the pond that he’d jumped in the muddy water full of pretty flowers. Mom lost both her temper and her precious lilies that day, and Sherlock lost his romp-in-the-yard-without-leash privileges for a couple of weeks.
Sherlock is my best friend, my little brother (you’d think he’s higher in the family hierarchy than me, the way he orders me around!) and absolutely the most favorite person of mine. But I wish I could understand even half the things that he tells me. After all, he understands everything I tell him.
Sometimes I wonder whether we really are the ‘most intelligent life form on Earth’.
“When I use a word, it means exactly what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.”
–Humpty Dumpty in ‘Through the Looking Glass’
I love how the English language is so flexible. Of course there are rules, but there are also exceptions. And there are exceptions to the exceptions! These things bothered me no end when I was a child. Should it be ‘who’ or ‘whom’? How can the same word mean three different things when used in three different sentences? You know what I mean.
In fact, some things still confuse me. And many grammatical mistakes irk me no end (people using “your” instead of “you’re”, saying “literally” when they mean “metaphorically” or “figuratively”). However, I still love the fact that I can say something like, “I’m so technologically handicapped that I can’t even operate a hair-dryer without electrocuting myself”, and still make sense! (And if I’m still not making sense to you, ‘technologically handicapped’ isn’t really a thing.)
I think what Carroll was trying to say through Humpty Dumpty is that context is as important in English language as the rules of grammar. An example is his extremely famous poem ‘Jabberwocky’. An excerpt:
“Twas bryllyg, and ye slythy toves
Did gyre and gymble in ye wabe:
All mimsy were ye borogoves;
And ye mome raths outgrabe.”
The grammar and syntax are perfect, but the verse itself is nonsensical; yet we love the poem and understand it exactly how it’s meant to be understood. (Like Alice says after finishing the poem, “Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas—only I don’t exactly know what they are! However, somebody killed something: that’s clear, at any rate”)
Another fine example of the importance of context is Douglas Adams’ Vogon poetry from ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’:
“Oh freddled gruntbuggly
thy micturations are to me
As plurdled gabbleblotchits on a lurgid bee.”
We might not know the meaning of the words, but we get the gist anyway; and we realize first-hand why Vogon poetry is the third worst in the Universe. (If you want to know the worst and the second worst poetry in the universe, read the book. I assure you it’ll be worth it.)
The fluidity and voracity of the English language is what makes it so universal. All the Grammar Nazis notwithstanding–and I confess I’m an occasional milder version, if there is such a thing, myself–that is the most interesting and fun thing about writing!
Like Alice, I might not always say what I mean, but “at least I mean what I say”!