Monday, April 25, 2016

Man Helping Men

A list of things a man can say to defuse his wife’s anger and therefore avoid an imminent fight or end one:

It’s fine.
You have nothing to worry about.
Just do it my way.
It really isn’t fair to expect me to guess that.
Well, if you say nothing's wrong, I guess nothing's wrong.
I’d really, really prefer Italian.
Here, take this pill. You really do need a glass of wine.
I believe I paid for this by working.
Well, maybe YOU should sleep on the couch.
Yeah, with that dress on, you look huge.
They are just a couple of old girlfriends.
Why don’t you just let the man fix this?
I can’t see the TV.
In fact I DO think it is a good idea.
You are making too big a deal out of this.
Before you say your side, I need a drink.
I totally get that you think that.
It’s nice, I guess.
But I DO have a preference.
It can wait.
But in my defense.
I’d rather spend time with my friends.
Say that again – I was looking up the score.
Are you still talking?
That’s a cute opinion to have.
And if I said that same thing as an excuse, would you be ok with it?
“Blah blah blah” that’s what you sound like, “Blah blah blah”
Why don’t you just make me a sandwich and we will move on.
Hold that thought – this is important.

You're welcome.

Friday, April 8, 2016

A Ted talk

I'd like to write a letter to Mr. Ted Cruz, so if you aren't Ted Cruz, please get this to him. Thanks in advance.

Dear Mr. Cruz,

Recently, I watched a video in which you visited a factory/bakery and participated in the making of matzah, the ceremonial flat cracker tat Jews chow down on during the Passover holiday. You seemed the good sport, but I wanted to point out a few important ideas so that maybe you can understand some of what you were doing.

First off, you played the political game well. Jews everywhere can only tolerate a politician who is willing to make us dinner. It's like a thing. So by showing your skill, you have won our vote. We had a meeting. You're good.

Next, I apologize for the ridiculous singing perpetrated by the people at the factory while you rolled the dough. We generally do not sing while we work -- that was all a put on for you. And the song choice was egregious. Those of us who sing while we roll dough usually choose something more spiritual, like an Elvis tune from Blue Hawaii. It's in the Torah.

Then I watched as you tasted some of that matzah. You said one thing (at 12:50 or so) "superb."

If you want to be trusted as a politician, please don't lie. It was not superb. It isn't supposed to be superb. in fact, if the stuff you made was "superb" then you didn't make matzah, you made Snickers bars. Now THOSE are superb.

Matzah is the bread of afflicition. It symbolizes the haste with which we ran from bondage -- our dough had no time to rise. What this means is that, given a choice, we would have slowed down to a more manageable pace and let the dough rise so we could have the other traditional Jewish bread, bagels, for 8 days. We do NOT want to eat matzah. We complain bitterly (note the Passover joke) about what it does to our teeth, our rugs and our digestive systems. It is a conveyance for cream cheese, butter and sometimes maybe a bissel fish. All things a bagel could be used for. We make pizzas out of it and complain. We grind it up and use the meal as a flour substitute, and complain. Basically, we have an 8 day whine-fest because of matzah. For you to say it was superb simply strains credulity on every level.

Some call matzah a bread of freedom. Yes, only in the sense that no one should ever have to pay for matzah. We did reach freedom from Egyptian slavery but the matzah is symbolic. Freedom's just another word for nothing left to eat.

So please -- we know you choked it down. It was very sporting of you to try it. But every bit of pandering has a limit, a moment when becomes unbelievable. I expect a full statement, an apology and a retraction of the offending "superb" lest our children grow up with the expectation that matzah taste like something more than overcooked cardboard, or the sense that our politicians lack taste buds.

No matzah brei, that's something else.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Everyone should state his or her (or whatever) own Gender

It doesn't take a lot to annoy me and usually, that works to my advantage. When I am running low on things that annoy me, I pick up the New York Times. The paper of record has a real knack for printing something which riles me up. Today, I picked up the NYT Magazine section and couldn't make it past the table of contents. So here is the anger kicking in.

The article ( was about the evolution of English as a language and the specific concern for pronouns that are appropriate for each and every/any of the modern gender-choices. So far, while I am irked, I am not angry. The politics around the fluidity of self-identification as it relates to gender confuse me and do cause a knee jerk reactionary position, that isn't enough to get me worked into a lather. People want pronouns, give 'em pronouns! But the article's point was the discussion of the progression of the word "they" into a singular, gender-nonspecific pronouns.

This I found offensive.

The article went through many reasons why people might use "they" in this way -- some acknowledged as problematic and some seen as reasonable, but I want to stake my position as completely dinosaur-istic. Let me be blunt. This is NOT about gender and identity. This is about NUMBER. I was reassured that many people in the comments section agreed with my feelings on this. I was troubled that many others did not. Those people are wrong.

The word "they" is, simply put, a plural pronoun. You can't convince me otherwise. Whether as a plural it is useful in certain situations which call for the singular can be argued (though I will most probably deride you for making such an argument) but redefining the word to be singular simply because new pronouns haven't caught on and adapting an extant word is most convenient is a personal affront.

I repeat: "they" refers to more than one person or things, regardless of gender. It can refer to a bunch of men, a group of women, a cluster of transexuals, a pair of transgendered, a trio of puppies, a sack of oranges (heck, even a sack of puppies), a school of fish, a grove of trees and a lot of cars (get it? "Lot of cars", HA!). I am NOT against introducing a new word -- language evolves and that's great. But the solution isn't just changing words that have a particular meaning (and changing in a way which will introduce other grammatical nightmares) because we are too lazy to innovate something else.

Call me old fashioned. Say that I am being insensitive. Accuse me of not wanting to accommodate the needs of a certain population here, but as I see it, I'm the victim, and by "I" I mean me, champion of the English language and Easily Offended English Teacher.

Pronouns tell us gender so maybe we don't need a neutral one, but a whole slew of more precise singular ones (and plural extensions) so that we can speak more accurately, or understand meaning more properly by seeing the correct pronoun used. In the title of this entry, "Everyone" is singular and it requires a singular pronoun. The solution is not to retool what we have because it doesn't reflect reality, nor is it to deny reality. It is to expand what we say to more completely represent reality.

In this election year, I promise that, if elected, I will work to ensure that "they" remains a plural pronoun. And if not elected, I will do the same.