Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Down With Spell Check!

All right, I have had it with Spell Check. Spell Check is the enemy. Spell Check is just AWFUL.

Last Saturday night I was calmly sitting at my kitchen table reading the Sunday New York Times (note to self: get social life) and came across a line in an article which read (more or less):

Christian women have come a long way from "Wither though goest, I will go."

Wither though goest? What the FUCK is that? It's not even English. As anybody should certainly know, it's a quote from the Bible which has to do with Ruth and Naomi and a woman's duty to leave her family and take up with her husband's family, and it reads, "Whither thou goest, I will go." I realize that not everybody is familiar with the Bible (really, read it just as literature - the King James version is gorgeous), but the phrase "Whither thou goest" turns up with a fair amount of frequency. used ironically, usually, but still, one hears it. It means, roughly, wherever you're going, I'll go. What 'wither though goest" means I couldn't possibly tell you, because it makes no sense whatsoever.

Obviously, the New York Times no longer employs human proofreaders and depends on Spell Check (which is a MACHINE, people!) to do that work.

Copy editors are also out of work these days, and for evidence of this, just read anything by Dan Brown. Now, Dan Brown's books (you know, Da Vinci Code and the rest) are compulsively readable (greatest things in the world for a boring bus ride), but the man can't write his way out of a paper bag (you should pardon the cliche). A copy editor's job is to spot things that don't make sense - such as the heroine's eyes are blue in Chapter 3 and green in Chapter 6. Dan Brown's stuff is full of these wonderful bits of unintentional comedy. In one book, his heroine is running full speed down a hallway while clutching the handrail. Try it some time. Unless she's pulling it out of the wall and dragging it behind her, it can't be done. In another lovely one, the heroine turns the hero on by coming out of a hotel bathroom wearing a "form-fitting terry cloth bathrobe." A WHAT? Has anybody ever seen a form-fitting terry cloth bathrobe? Either this broad is an Ewok, or there's a form of really thin terrycloth around that I haven't heard about. But my all time favorite is a character in one of his books who is raising his arms in a victory gesture while putting on his sportcoat. I want all of you men to immediately get up and attempt to put on a jacket this way. Uh huh. I didn't think you could either.

Really, I am horrified by what goes on in books these days. Not the content, but the sheer lack of quality proofreading and copy editing. There are now mass market paperbacks costing $9.99, for God's sake, and I have not read a single new paperback book where I haven't found horrendous typos. If they're charging that much for the damn things, aren't we entitled to be able to read them without our eyes being stopped by ghastly - and very avoidable - mistakes?

Now I use Spell Check at the office, certainly, because I have a habit of typing tp for to. BUT I ALSO PROOFREAD. ProofREAD. I don't depend on Spell Check to do my editing for me, and I read through everything before it goes anywhere. Also, Spell Check won't pay any attention to anything that actually IS a word, even if it's the wrong word. So my occasional typing of the Untied States for the United States would never be caught. Nor will Spell Check find "Their is a place." Because, of course, "their" is a perfectly good word - just not at the beginning of that sentence.

Please, for the sake of my sanity - bring back human beings! And you know, once we get them back in publishing firms, wouldn't it be really, really neat to get them back at the other end of telephones, too?

Love, Wendy

Thursday, February 21, 2008

No Sex - PLEASE!

Could we please, PLEASE stop with the sex and nudity? I am not in the least offended by either one of them (hell, I'm an old '60s chick and an actress - between those two things, I've seen a large amount of naked flesh) - but boy, am I bored.

I went to the movies on Monday to see Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd (it's GREAT), and one of the ads before the show involved a lightly clad couple fondling and dandling and one thing and another - and I think it was an ad for floor wash. Or possibly Wheaties. Really. Come on, people. (And, by the way - what the hell goes on with the damn commercials in movies? Back in 1910, when I was a little girl, movies had twenty five cartoons and a newsreel - not car ads, for God's sake.)

Sex is a totally lovely activity, and naked bodies are a lovely, natural thing. IN THEIR PROPER PLACE. But for God's sake, must we have them everywhere? And must we be informed about them at all times, incessantly? Every morning when I go to catch my bus for work, I am confronted by a large ad in the bus shelter featuring a young boy and girl half dressed, with their pants down around their crotches, both of whom look like they are stoned out of their heads and just got out of bed. Naturally, this is a Calvin Klein ad. They also look like they both need a good shower, some shampoo and a hair brush. This does not make me want to buy Calvin Klein jeans - this makes me want to track these kids down, put them in rehab, and bathe them.

And I am wildly tired of picking up the paper every morning to find pictures of the latest starlet prancing around half-dressed without her underpants. Or with one breast hanging out. Or, God help us, both. And I am not, I may add, someone who wears all my clothes up to my neck - on the proper occasions, I can, and do, show a pretty impressive set myself...but not to the point where my nipples are waving at you. (I went to a family party the weekend after Christmas in a dress like that - it's always fun to watch your in-laws turn green. The dress was a very polite black empire line thing, but it did display - gasp - cleavage.)

And I don't want to hear about everybody's sex life, either. One of the things I like about George Clooney (actually, I like everything about George Clooney) is that you never hear this sort of garbage. He is written up as dating someone. That's it. You never hear a story about him practically screwing his date in a restaurant or anything like that. Scarlett Johanssen is the same - you hear she's dating someone and nothing else - she's not dancing on tables or being carried out of bars by her handlers. These people have class.

And it trickles down, unfortunately, this mad insistence on everything hanging out. I work near Times Square, and in the summer, I find it literally nauseating to walk to the subway on my way home. Every single woman on the street seems to have adopted this fad for shorter and tighter and more revealing. And although I realize this may come as a shock to some of these people, they don't have the figures for it. I'm not even talking about our current epidemic of the morbidly obese - I'm talking about someone who carries a perfectly normal twenty pounds of extra weight (well, these days that is normal). If you stuff that in an outfit a size too small made out of Spandex, you are going to look deeply unappetizing. Particularly if your underwear is also hanging out. (I'll never understand thong underwear. I have spent my entire life hunting for the perfect pair of underpants that doesn't creep up into that area, and now they make underpants that are designed to do it? Sheesh.)

And then you go to a bar and find that the couple right next to you should really be home in bed, because they are not holding hands and smiling at each other - they are practically sweeping the drinks off the table with their mad gyrations. Why are they doing this in public at all? What on earth is this urge to show everything you've got to everybody?

And of course, all movies have to have both male and female nudity. As I say, I'm not offended, but frankly, I know what bodies look like. I don't need further lessons on the subject. And as far as being shocked by the sight of a penis - well, frankly, unless you've got a square knot or a really interesting tattoo, they all look pretty much alike. (Trust me.)

Years back I went to see a review called Oh, Coward in which the girl in the show wore what I still talk about as the world's sexiest dress. It was white, high-necked, longsleeved, narrow (but not tight) and floor-length, with a polite slit just to below the knee on either side. But when she turned around, her entire back was bare except for about six ropes of pearls. Now, that, my children, was sexy. When she first turned her back, every man in my group heaved an audible sigh.

You see? It just isn't necessary to throw everything in everyone's face. Be a trend setter! Lead the pack! Put your damn clothes back on!

Love, Wendy

Friday, February 15, 2008

Welcome to me...

Well, my, my, my. Here I am blogging. I must say this is probably a better idea than driving my friends nuts with my endless beer-fueled emails.

I'm damned if I'm going to go through all of this profile stuff. I figure you'll probably learn much more than you actually want to know about me from what I write, although a small bit of background is probably necessary. So here it is.

I'm female, live in NYC (Manhattan, guys, not the boroughs), am an actress who temps as a legal secretary, and I'm not young. The rest you can figure out for yourselves. So there.

The blog is merely because I feel like ranting madly every now and then, and isn't it nice to have a place you can do that without fear of reprisals? I have found that when I begin to rant my friends tend to pour two or three more beers down my throat and hope to God I'll get blitzed enough to go home and burble to myself instead of them. This is curiously unsatisfying. One so wishes to feel that one's deep personal concerns are fingers got fucked up in there and shared came out as shredded. Hmmm.

My current point of irritation (trust me...I got a million of 'em) is this whole organic food thing. These locavores and mad proselytizers on the benefits of organic food are driving me into a distinct decline. It isn't that I disagree with them, you understand. The problem is (as with so much in this country) is the elitism of it.

It is absolutely and incontrovertibly true that organic food is better for you (of course, when I was a kid, back in 1789, we just called it food). Because I was born quite some time back, I remember my grandmother going to the kosher butcher in Chicago (see? I told you you'd learn about me by internal evidence), picking out a chicken, having it killed and bringing it home to be plucked and gutted and finally cooked. And it tasted WONDERFUL (and every now and then we found an unborn egg inside, which was EXTREMELY weird...they're kind of rubbery). Actually everything my grandmother made tasted wonderful, because she was a superb cook - all the women in my family are/were, including me. We seem to kind of absorb it, which is the way to learn to cook. (I am about to digress. I do this. Live with it. Digression is the spice of life.) Nobody whose parents do takeout or frozen and microwaved every night will ever learn to cook well, unless they REALLY hate the food at home - and since most people in this country live on this shit with the occasional McDonald's, they won't hate it. Bleccch.

Anyway, the point I was trying to get to is that organic food is wildly, insanely, expensive. Nobody except people who live in four bedrooms in Tribeca can afford it. So all the food articles and so forth drool madly over it, and insist that it'll be the saving of our country's health.

Well, I'm sorry, but it seems to me that what they seem to be talking about (as usual) is that it will be the saving of the health of the rich. No food that is available only to the upper class can save anything. Meanwhile, the farmers who would have been absolutely delighted to supply us with this wonderful stuff have all been forced out of existence and made (if they've been able to hang onto the farm at all) to make food for processing...which is unhealthy as hell.

No, I can't afford organics (except the organs I was born with...and frankly, the older you get, the more expensive THEY are to keep together). I do the best I can with the cheapest food from the cheapest supermarket I can find (currently the Associated on 14th and 8th, since Western Beef moved over to 10th Avenue and 16th - and now you know I live in the West Village).

I suppose what I'm trying to say here is that I object to any system that announces what is good and then puts it out of reach of the people who most desperately need the good. I am very firmly what I refer to as an ideal Socialist; I believe from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs. We have people with the ability to grow and produce wonderful food. Let's make it possible to get it to those who need it.

Oh, and if you happen to be one of those who toss something into the microwave or order out for dinner? Listen up. Put two pots of water on to boil and grab a package of nice wide egg noodles. When that water boils, throw a package of say, frozen peas (I don't object to frozen vegetables because our lives are so random these days and unless you know you'll cook them in a day or so, fresh vegetables spoil fast) in one of the pots and the noodles in the other one. Then take some chicken breast halves. Dunk them in some beaten egg. Roll them around in some bread crumbs with a little Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper added. Melt a little butter and a little olive oil (adding oil to the butter prevents it from burning - you can use all oil if you want) in a frying pan and throw the chicken in. Cook it. There you are, guys. The entire process takes about 20-25 minutes and can be done while you annoy the kids about doing their homework "NOW, damn it!" And it takes exactly as much time as it would take to get the pizza delivered. Oh, and it tastes good. So there.

Love, Wendy