Super Sneak Pooties And Scrapbooking

My mom announced that I should consider getting my backdoor inspected because I have had some mystery abdominal pains. (I suspect they are stress-related, frankly.) The thing is, I have been through Backdoor Inspection Time with her several times, and it is the exact opposite of fun. The first time, there were (shall we say) decorative results when she decided she could “just lie down and rest for a couple of hours”. This was a charmingly naive assumption. Messiness ensued. The washer filed for divorce. The dryer scoffed. The carpet is sulking. The bathrooms felt very much loved and appreciated. All of them.

It looked like a gang of monkeys had broken into her condo and flung what monkeys love to fling. Only…everywhere.

I have taken note. When I am old enough for Backdoor Inspections, I will not tell myself that having a nap is a good idea. Instead, I will say “No, Self. Expect Super Sneak Pooties!”

My mom is a very anal-retentive (no pun intended, especially as she was not retaining anything anally the whole night) neat freak. She almost wept. We had just gone through elder incontinence woes with my grandmother, who was offended by the concept of adult diapers (she remained a very dignified and proper Southern lady until the end) and resisted them as long as she was able to, and she was legally blind and thus incapable of seeing the results of her resistance (you can guess), and neither of us were excited at the prospect of boiling the entire house. Luckily, about 40% of the house was not affected by her lack of preparation for Super Sneak Pooties, and mom and I don’t live together, so I saw only partial evidence of the physical and psychological trauma she had to deal with.

When I took her into the Backdoor Doctor for her Inspection, I had to sit in the waiting area for a long time, and it was there that I learned all about scrapbooking. I knew that such a thing existed, but not that there were entire magazines devoted to the hobby. There are, and, as in all doctors’ offices, they are all very old issues. Examining them, I found myself wishing I had so much free time and disposable income. Good grief. Women (mostly, anyway) waxing rhapsodic over stickers. I don’t think I was ever that excited about stickers even when they were a trend in middle school (remember the scented ones?) but it was interesting to see some of the graphic design choices (not that I agreed with all of them). So, yeah, I was soon up to speed on the scrapbooking phenomenon. Personally, I’m aware that my photographs are of limited interest to everyone else.

I have a skillion pictures of my trip to London, many of which were good enough to include in my SCAD grad student application portfolio as “extras” (given that I am not in a photography course and use digital and cheap-o 35mm cameras without knowing crap about f-stops (other than that they exist) and filters (other than that having a blue one would have improved pictures of the grey London sky). Only people who love London want to see them, and this is often a cunning plan to discuss their own past or future trips to the same place. Which, fortunately, I groove on. Ditto my snaps of pre-Katrina New Orleans.

I have a quintillion jillion photos of various bands, like The Hiss, Palo Alto, The Living Things, The Libertines, Ash, The Dandy Warhols, The (International) Noise Conspiracy, The Pattern, The Tender Idols, Duran Duran, John Taylor, The Soundtack of Our Lives, The Cato Salsa Experience, Stereo Total, Momus, blah blah blah, and only people who care about these groups or artists want to see them. I tend to remember the ones that turned out poorly, such as Nick Cave, most of The Buzzcocks, Jay “Gene, or Jezebel?” Aston, Grandaddy, Supergrass, Oasis, Blur, The Kills, and so on. (I suspect that a lot of that had to do with excitement at the time, or really strict venue policies against photographs.)

Then there are the pix of parties past where I spend a lot of time wondering Who’s That Guy? because I never write people’s names on the back of my photos. I’m lazy and busy and it’s low on my list of Things To Do, alas. If only I had the free time that scrapbookers have! It would be nice to have all that free time for hobbies. I’m lucky if I can indulge in my fave hobby, which is sleeping at least 8 hours a night and waking up naturally without using an alarm clock. That’s joy.

And that brings us full circle to the Poop Fiasco, as my mom likes to schedule doctor’s appointments at the buttcrack of dawn (no pun intended) so a much longer amount of your day can be ruined by having to start it off by having hoses and stuff stuck up your bum. (No worries, all was well and Mom, as was expected, was perfectly healthy and had squeaky clean pipes.)

One of the funny things about my family is that, no matter what the conversation, it all devolves into a discussion about farting. I have no idea why. My friends will vouch that I, personally, have no interest in the subject. I don’t even pass gas myself all that often (as far as I know, anyway). Hello, diet! It’s avoidable, and there’s always Beano if it isn’t. I HATE the kinds of movies that think farts are hilarious. And yet, get two or more of my family together, and a discussion about farting happens. It is inevitable.

I was thinking about this earlier, and I have concluded that it’s probably BECAUSE we don’t get all the adolescent giggliness about bodily functions out of our systems by watching stupid entertainment choices. I’d still rather endure some juvenalia amongst my family members than pay $8 or more to watch total strangers crack toot jokes on the big screen.

The only other consistent topic is “who can remember a childhood event most inaccurately.” This competition is especially fun when people who married into the family or people who were not born yet when the event occurred or people who were simply not present at a certain event for other reasons chime in with their opinions on the subject. Especially if they are insistent that they were firsthand witnesses to the disputed event. That’s good family fun. I tend to run out of patience with this game long before everyone else has exhausted themselves. I worry that I will end up being a grumpy curmudgeonly old lady. (Wait, “end up”? I’m already there.)

Occasionally the recollections of events are so diametrically opposed it can be hilarious, but this happens less often than does someone getting so frustrated by the poor reporting skills and contradictions that they get teary. I guess it feels like their worldview is being corrupted, or their sense of reality is more suspect than it normally is.

Perhaps another appeal of scrapbooking is defining your family’s memories for them. “It happened this way, and I have photographic proof!” Because cameras never, ever lie.

One final quibble about scrapbooking: if you are going to spend $50 and several hours designing a lovely scrapbook page, please SPELL CORRECTLY. It’s the equivalent of, well, a fart in church if you mess that up.

And, with the invocation of farts into the narrative, it’s time to finish this entry. Trust me, I know firsthand that the quality of conversation is doomed to deteriorate from here on out.


Grammar Cats Offer Assistance to the Grammatically Oppressed and Confused

Irritable Grammar Cat challenges the premise that all cats are incapable of using proper grammar. (Even LOLchat a.k.a. Catois has its own grammatical rules based on CORRECT English grammar. You have to know the rules to break them properly for the LULZ.)

GRAMMA–Your mother or father’s maternal parent
GRAMMAR–Proper use of your native language
GRAMMER–Kelsey Grammer was an actor on “Cheers” and “Frasier”.

YOUR–Possessive. Something you own. “Is that your book?”
YOURS–Note that this does not have an apostrophe. “No, that book is yours.”
YOU’RE–Contraction. Shortened form of YOU ARE. “You’re not into grammar?”
YORE–Time long past. “Back in the days of yore, King Arthur spoke with pond-dwelling watery tarts.”

LOSER–Not a winner.
LOOSER–Less tight than before.
LUSER–Internet slang for someone who cannot properly use a computer.
LOSE–“Lose” is pronounced “looze.” It means “to misplace,” as in “I always lose my car keys,” or “to be defeated,” as in “We will lose the game without Bob.”
LOOSE–“Loose” means “not tight” (“This shirt is too loose on me”), or “not confined” (“The ferret got loose when the door on his kennel broke”).

BARE: Naked. “Please bare with me, we need more naked people for our streaking prank.”
BEAR: Either a large, carnivorous furry mammal known to defecate in woods (if a noun) or a verb with a similar meaning as “endure.” “I don’t know how much longer I can bear this bear gnawing my face off.”

Apostrophe Cat is never used to make plural Apostrophe Cats. Apostrophe Cat also deplores the use of “greengrocer’s quotes” for emphasis.

ITS–Possessive. “The tree shed its leaves.”
IT’S–Contraction. Shortened form of IT IS. “It’s a shame about Ray.”

See, the word “it” is not a noun. It’s a pronoun! Pronouns never, ever, ever get an apostrophe to indicate possession. Think about it: You don’t say “mi’ne” or “hi’s”, so you DO NOT say “your’s” or “it’s” or “her’s” to indicate possession. If you get confused, take out the apostrophe in “it’s” and put in the letter or letters the apostrophe is replacing, e.g., “it is.” If the sentence makes no sense, don’t use the apostrophe.

THERE–Location. “It’s not here, it’s there.”
THEY’RE–Contraction. Shortened form of THEY ARE. “They’re driving me crazy with the bad grammar.”
THEIR–Possessive. “Their inability to use simple words properly is annoying.”

DIABEETUS Grammar Cat points out that your snarky comment is not nearly as clever if it is ungrammatical.

When to use LESS: When you can’t precisely count the amount. “He has less courage than she does.”
When to use FEWER: When you can. It should be “10 items or FEWER” at your grocery store. “She has fewer demerits than I do.”

When to use “I” or “Me”:
* If the sentence makes sense when you omit everyone else, e.g., “Bob and I enjoy reading books”, then you use “I”. If the sentence still makes sense after removing “Bob and”, then you did it right. “Me enjoy reading books” is only right if you are Cookie Monster.
* If the sentence makes sense when you omit everyone else, e.g., “Susan gave books to Bob and me,” then you use “me.” If the sentence still makes sense after removing “Bob and”, then you did
it right. “Susan gave books to I” is incorrect.

When to use “We” or “Us”:
* If the sentence makes sense when you omit the noun following the “we”, e.g., “We teachers enjoy reading books” vs. “We enjoy reading books”, then you use “we”. The sentence still makes sense after removing “teachers”, so you did it right. “Us enjoy reading books” is incorrect.
* If the sentence makes sense when you omit everyone else, e.g., “Susan gave books to the teachers and us,” then you use “us.” If the sentence still makes sense after removing “the teachers and”, then you did it right. “Susan gave books to we” is incorrect.

THEN: Then is used either as a time marker (“Back then we knew what was expected of us.”) or with a sequence of events (“If you misuse these words, then you look unintelligent.”)
THAN: Unlike then, than is not related to time. Than is used in comparative statements. “He is taller than I am.”

AFFECT: Affect with an a means “to influence,” as in, “The rain affected Amy’s hairdo.” Affect can also mean, roughly, “to act in a way that you don’t feel,” as in, “She affected an air of superiority.”
EFFECT: Effect with an e has a lot of subtle meanings as a noun, but to me the meaning “a result” seems to be at the core of all the definitions. For example, you can say, “The effect was eye-popping,” or “The sound effects were amazing,” or “The rain had no effect on Amy’s hairdo.”

Generally speaking, affect is a verb and effect is a noun. When you affect something, you produce an effect on it. Even in the passive voice, something would be affected, not effected. (The exceptions to the rule: As a verb, effect means to execute, produce, or accomplish something; as a noun, affect is used primarily by psychologists to refer to feelings and desires as factors in thought or conduct.)

ACCEPT: Accept is a verb meaning to receive.
EXCEPT: Except is usually a preposition meaning excluding. “I will accept all the packages except that one.” Except is also a verb meaning to exclude. “Please except that item from the list.”

ALLUSION: An Allusion is an indirect reference. “Did you catch my allusion to Shakespeare?”
ILLUSION: An illusion is a misconception or false impression. “Mirrors give the room an illusion of depth.”

On the Internet, no one knows you’re a cat…especially if you are a Grammar Cat.

WHOM: Use whom when you are referring to the object of a sentence. For example, it is “Whom did you step on?” if you are trying to figure out that I had squished Squiggly the caterpillar. Similarly, it would be “Whom do I love?” because you are asking about the object — the target of my love. I know, it’s shocking, but the Rolling Stones were being grammatically incorrect when they belted out the song “Who Do You Love?”
THE WHO: A great band.
WHO: Two correct sentences are “Who loves you?” and “Who stepped on the caterpillar?” In both these cases the one you are asking about is the subject — the one taking action, not the one being acted upon.

More on WHO vs. WHOM: My friend Regina has an even easier PROTIP. “If you can use him/her, use whom. If you can use he/she, use who. IOW, reconfigure the sentence into a statement. “Whom did you step on?” becomes “I stepped on him,” NOT “I stepped on he.” So, whom is correct in the sentence. (This is how I remember it! I know you said the same thing, but the grammar-challenged may not understand tricky phrases like “subject” and “object” in regard to sentence structure.)”

FARTHER: Use “farther” for physical distance. It’s easy to remember because “farther” has the word “far” in it, and“far” obviously relates to physical distance.
FATHER: Dear old Dad.
FURTHER: Use “further” for metaphorical, or figurative, distance.
FURTHERMORE: Use “furthermore” when you mean “in addition.”

TO: To is a preposition. “I am going to work.”
TOO: Too is an adverb. Try substituting “also” and see if it still makes sense. “She is going to work, too.”
TWO: Two is a number. “Two of us are going to work today.”

BREAK: You use this when you take a break at work or when you break something.
BRAKE: The pedal in your car that makes the car stop.

PEAK: A peak is a summit.
PEEK: A peek is a glimpse.
PIQUE: This s a French word meaning “prick,” in the sense of “stimulate.” Therefore the expression is “my curiosity was piqued.” If someone reacts badly because their pride is hurt, this is a “fit of pique”.

VILA: Bob Vila will help you with your home repairs.
VILLA: A fancy home.
VIOLA: Tiny violin-like instrument.
VOILA: French for “Here it is!” This is probably the word you want.
WA LA or WAH LAH: Just…no. No. WRONG. Stop that.
WALLA: A Hindi word used in UK slang as a suffix to mean “takes care of”: i.e., a dishwalla is a person who washes the dishes.
WALLA WALLA: A town in the state of Washington.

THE REASON WHY: Just flat wrong, It does NOT mean “That is why.” Redundant.
HENCE WHY: Just flat WRONG. It does NOT mean “That is why.” Redundant.
HENSE: Graffiti artist based in Atlanta.
HENCE: Hence is used in a couple of ways. First, it can mean away from this place or away from this time: “Get thee hence,” or “We’ll meet again two weeks hence.” It can also mean “therefore” or “as a result”. So you could say “It was raining, which is why I got wet,” OR “It was raining; hence, I got wet.”

Grammar Nazi Cat has been forced to retaliate by taking an authoritarian stance after years of frustration spawned by scores of Internet users’ illiteracy.


Confused about LAY vs. LIE? Lie is an intransitive verb meaning “to recline or rest on a surface”. Its principal parts are “lie, lay, lain”. Lay is a transitive verb meaning “to put or place”. Its principal parts are “lay, laid”. Hint: “Chickens lay eggs”. “I lie down when I am tired.” Still confused? You need advanced help:

SET, SIT: “Set” is a transitive verb meaning “to put or to place”. Its principal parts are “set, set, set”. “Sit” is an intransitive verb meaning “to be seated”. Its principal parts are “sit, sat, sat”. “She set the dough in a warm corner of the kitchen.” “The cat sat in the warmest part of the room.”

WHO, WHICH, THAT: Do not use “which” to refer to persons. Use “who” instead. “That”, though generally used to refer to things, may be used to refer to a group or class of people. “I just saw a boy who was wearing a yellow banana costume.” “I have to go to math next, which is my hardest class.” “Where is the book that I was reading?”

WHO’s: Means “who is.”
WHOSE: Possessive. “Whose shoes are these?” means “To whom do these shoes belong?” or “Who owns these shoes?”

SEGUE: It is pronounced “seg-way.”

COULD HAVE / COULD’VE: Not “could of.” “Could’ve” is risky, use it carefully.
SHOULD HAVE / SHOULD’VE: Not “should of.” “Should’ve” is risky, use it carefully.
WOULD HAVE / WOULD’VE: Not “would of.” “Would’ve” is risky, use it carefully.

SUPPOSED TO: Do not omit the “d”. “Suppose to” is incorrect.
USED TO: Same as above. Do not write “use to”.

IN REGARD TO / WITH REGARD TO: Please note that there is no “s” in “regard”.
REGARDS: A nice way to sign off a letter. (Please observe that the “T” is close to the “G” on your keyboard: proofread before you send your note.)

TOWARD: There is no “s” at the end of the word.
ANYWAY: Also has no ending “s”. “Anyways” is nonstandard.

COULDN’T CARE LESS: Be sure to make it negative. (Not “I could care less”.)

ALL WALKS OF LIFE: Not “woks of life”. This phrase does not apply to Asian cuisine.

ORIENTAL: Refers to things from Asia, like rugs, not people.
ASIAN: People from Asia.

CHEST OF DRAWERS: Not “chester drawers”.

PEDESTAL: Not “petal stool” or “pedal stool”.
PEDAL: The little doohickeys you press with your feet in your car.
PETAL: Part of a flower.

LADDER: A thing you climb. It has rungs.
LATTER: When referring to two things, one is the former (or first), and one is the latter (or last).

SHUTTER: A hinged wooden window covering.
SHUDDER: To briefly shake oneself violently. “I shudder to think.”

FAUX PAS: Means “false step,” and you make a faux pas when you spell it incorrectly. Just sayin’.

FOR ALL INTENTS AND PURPOSES: Not “intensive purposes”.

PER SE: It is not “per say.” (Don’t use “per se” if you can’t define or spell it properly.)

Hope this helps.

High Five Grammar Cat offers congratulations.