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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My favorite things this week

And now for a completely different blog post, my favorite things this week:

1. This video of twin 11-month-olds dancing to a guitar is one of the best things I've ever seen.  And I'm not one of those people who thinks that absolutely everything babies do is cute.  Watch this unless you're afraid to smile: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=to7uIG8KYhg&feature=share

2. Flight of the Conchords bring it once again, in a song with lyrics supplied by 5-year-olds.  Genius: http://mashable.com/2012/08/26/conchords-cure-kids/ .

3.  Lately I've realized that I have an inexplicable fondness for squirrels, so this story made me almost faint from the cuteness: http://www.examiner.com/article/animals-and-their-human-friends-the-soldier-and-the-squirrel  

4. Below wild squirrel is one of the primary sources of my obsession.  She comes to hang out with me whenever I'm in the area.  Eeeek!

video

Friday, August 24, 2012

On whether all authors need to write short stories


So, the first draft of my second novel is done (!!!), two brillitantissimus friends are reading/editing for me (thank youuuu Dana and Jill!), and now I have to figure out what to do next [*she trembles*].  Methinks I should try to conquer the world of traditional publishing [*she takes deep breath, downs her whiskey*].  As I previously blogged, the odds getting a novel published are only slightly better than the odds of me becoming a natural blonde.  But whatever. 

One thing evvvverybody says it’s important to mention in a query letter is where you’ve been published.  And apparently, that means “traditionally” published.  I gather that agents will find my history in self-publishing as impressive as a cardboard house.

Hmmm.  So.  Now I’m thinking I need learn how to write a kickass short story and then get it published somewhere, STAT.  Which I’m thinking might have slightly better odds than novel publishing or natural blonding.  I found this amazing site that lists all kinds of short story contests and grants for authors: http://www.pw.org/grants?sort=asc&order=Deadline&apage=*&perpage=*

But I’d love any additional suggestions anyone has about where to publish a story.  Alternatively, I’m open to suggestions re: who to bribe to just get my arse published already, because this publishing world is a monster.  And not a cute cartoony monster.  

Ok, mwwwah, happy weekend, you are cute.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

In Which I Analyze The Grammar of Eminem

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhsA5t7RxAo
Vlog above, in which I comment on the grammar of four rappers in Eminem’s “No One’s Iller Than Me.”  I have a feeling Eminem is really smart, but he likes to hide that fact, like a teenage cheerleader trying to seem dumb to seem cool.

See below for written version, in case videos burn your eyes!

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShadowSwanShadow Swans website: www.shadowswans.comBuy Shadow Swans for 99 cents and make me rich: http://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Swans-ebook/dp/B0056C414I

In which I analyze the Grammar of Eminem


Below, I grade and edit the grammar of four rappers in Eminem’s “No One’s Iller Than Me.” (Vlog link above)  I have a feeling Eminem is really smart, but he likes to hide that fact, like a teenaged cheerleader trying to seem dumb to seem cool.  My grades:

Bizarre – A-
Fuzz – A-
Swift – D-
Eminem – F

Eminem
"No One's Iller Than Me"
(feat. Swift, Bizarre & Fuzz)

No one's iller than me
I am
[Eminem- you’d say “No one’s iller than I am,” so if you take off the “am,” you still have to say “No one’s iller than I.”  Maybe you could add “damn” after “313,” to preserve the rhyme?  But now that I think about it, “damn” is such weak profanity.  You’re such a wordsmith, I’m sure you can come up with something much stronger and more appropriate.]
No one, no one is iller than me
I am
No one is iller than me
I am
It's Mr. Swifty from the 313
(damn?)...

[Swift]
I make rappers wanna turn into singers
I keep hoes lickin' they
their fingers
[Swift – WHY do rappers insist on using personal pronouns as possessive pronouns?  Hoes lick THEIR fingers, not THEY fingers.]
Bring this competition and face this meanin'
 
Got your whole crew doing subpeonas
Hell nah you ain't seen a crew genius
Murder whoever's between us, pack your heaters
Keep it close, you can't beat us
While your whole crew treat
s us like G's, [Why must you conjugate a plural noun with a singular verb? The crew TREATS you like G’s.]
you best believe this
I done made quadrapalegics outta these non-rappin rejects
[“done made”?  Now you just sound like you’re from Deliverance country]
While the whole world ejects your tape, it
’s ain't no secret
That your shit sounds fake, you can't stop it my mind state
Makes it too late for cops in tryin' to stop the crime rate
I'm like Two-Face, I'm painful to rappers then you can tell
From these shells, how I gotta bend 'em like route canals
I erase all trails, somethin' farther from gettin' bail
Makes you wanna kill an emcee yourself, you might as well
Be within a 25 to life sentence, on linkin' trials
Horrified, and keep on frontin', repentin' and lose they bowels
[Lose THEIR bowels, Swift!  They lose THEIR bowels!]
Everything is foul when Swift's around, vacate now
Niggas dumb enough to try to front and escape, how?
I'm gonna take this 'gnac and drink it straight wild
[Swift – I do love your use of “‘gnac” here.  Brillz]
Niggas steady fallin' in my face like milk crates, BLAAAOW!

[Bizarre]
Me and Eminem and Mike
Drivin' down Van Dyke
Get my dick sucked late at night by a fuckin' transvestite
Still on probation for stranglin' my boy Jason
Should be takin' my medication, it's 9 to 10 I'm facin'
Last week this old man I had to blast
Cuz he tried to help me out when my car was out of gas
Ripped this old lady, hung her neck by a hook
Didn't realize it was my grandmother 'til I checked her pocketbook
Fuckin' with the white boys got me back on crack
Better explain where the hell your TVs and VCRs is at
I done lost 100 pounds, I ain't
haven’t been eatin' like I should
This wounded dog in the street is sure lookin' good!
Rob this little boy in his fuckin' paper route
 
Throwin' bottles at day care centers and yell "EVERYBODY GET OUT"!
My girl beat my ass and shot me in the back with a 2-piece
Cuz she found out I was havin' an affair with her 10-year old niece
[Eminem – Bizarre has better grammar than you do]

[Eminem]
Nobody better test me, cuz I don't wanna get messy
Especially when I step inside this bitch, dick freshly
[I’m not sure what “dick freshly” means, so I’ll let this one slide]
New Lugz, give the crew hugs, guzzle two mugs
Before I do drugs that make me throw up like flu bugs
True thugs, rugged unshaven messy scrubs
Whippin' 40-bottles like the fuckin' Pepsi clubs
Down a fifth, crack open a six
I'm on my seventh 8-ball, now I gotta take a piss
I'm hollerin' at these hoes that got
have boyfriends
[Eminem – it should be “hoes that have boyfriends” or “hoes that have got boyfriends”]
Who gives a fuck who they was
were
[Really, Eminem?  I think you know it should be “who they were.”]
I'm always takin' someone else's girl like Cool J does
They probably don't be
aren’t packin' anyways, do are they Fuzz?
[ok, now I think you’re just trying to sound cool by sounding stupid, like a 13-year-old cheerleader might do.  That’s just pathetic.  Did you REALLY think it should be “They don’t be packin’”?  Or did you just want to sound as stupid as possible?  I think the latter.  Shame on you, Eminem.]
We walked up, stomped they
their asses and blew they their buzz
Mics get sandblasted
Stab your abdomen with a hand
-crafted [you forgot the hyphen there.  NBD.] pocketknife and spill your antacid
Sprayed your motherfuckin' crib up when I ran past it
Fuckin' felon, headed to hell in a handbasket
Talkin' shit will get you, your girl and your man blasted
Kidnapped and slapped in a van wrapped in Saran plastic
Get your damn ass kicked, by these fantastic
Furious four motherfuckers
Flashin' in front of your face without the Grand Masters

[Fuzz]
I run shit like an ass with legs
Massive lead to leave your cabbage red
Similar to your ass in a casket dead
Drastic spread of acid heads
Come to abort you like a bastard egg
That trash you said got you standin' on plastic legs
Ask the feds from past the edge
Rockin' the most classic threads
Flashin' bread, roll down the window
Bitch you
’ve got some fantastic legs, you can get 'til that ass get red
You can get 'til that ass get red
Bizarre you get him and him, Swift you get him and him
I'll get him and him, leave the other two for my nigga Eminem
Never writer's block, I block writers
My block's tighter, ante up and get your top fighters
Got fired for jumpin' the counter with a mop stick
Some bitch ran up screamin' GET THE COPS QUICK!
And got drop kicked, now she
’s screamin' "Stop it..."
Got clips to stop shit, rock shit and grab this hot shit
Wherever you shop bitch, Fuzz Scooter '97 crop pick
Sick a-ya'll niggaz lookin' at me like I got tits
I shoot a rocket through your optic
You niggaz still don't know the top pick?
I
’ve got bricks, lose my foot in your ass
And have you shittin' socks bitch!
We rock shit, leave your fuckin' knot split
Grab the green from Al by showin' him hot grits
(No one...)
[Eminem - overall, Fuzz has much better grammar than you as well]

[Bizzare]
It's the Mr. Fuzzy from the 313
No one, no one is iller than me
I am
It's Eminem and Swift from the 313
No one, no one is iller than me
I am
It's Fuzz and Buzz-arre from the 313



Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShadowSwan
Shadow Swans website: www.shadowswans.com
Buy Shadow Swans for 99 cents and make me rich: http://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Swans-ebook/dp/B0056C414I

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Right Now - new(ish) song for upcoming album!


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72iIVXPoBps
(Above link is a SUPER low-fi video of moi playing "Right Now" in my living room!)

Hello my lovely friends!  A bit of a deviation for this week's blog.  As many of you know, in the past I put out 4 albums of original music (www.laurathomasband.com) and until last year I played regular gigs all over the Northeast (and occasionally in Cali).  And then the music industry sucked out my soul and I needed a year off.  Last week I picked up my guitar for the first time in a year because I missed my song "Right Now," and I recorded a vid of me playing the song in my living room.  The sound is crrrrap, but I actually have no amps or sound equipment in this, my lovely summer home in the mountains.  So this is the best sound I could eek out in a completely unplugged sitch.

Hopefully, if the dormant music spirits within me continue to wake the F up, I'll be recording album #5 later this year!  Will keep you posted.  And let me know if you'd like to hear more songs this way.

Oh, btw, to make this blog a teency bit relevant to the whole Grammarfiti theme, I'd like to say that I proudly realize that the phrase "I'm good" in the chorus isn't accurate.  And probably that makes me a hypocrite.  And I'm good with that.  :)

Thanks for listening, mwwwwah xoxo.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

It's "champing" at the bit, and NEVER say "her and I"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1eTPwhEJ2ww&lcor=1&lc=X5PFHBuoFC4P1pMbJxph5JO7Amw5G12dImrwjU5tIyY&lch=email&feature=em-comment_received

Click on the link above for my latest video blog - turns out it's "champing" at the bit (who knew), and it's never ok to say "her and I."

See below for written version, in case videos burn your eyes!

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShadowSwan
Shadow Swans website: www.shadowswans.com
Buy Shadow Swans for 99 cents and make me rich: http://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Swans-ebook/dp/B0056C414I


It's "champing" at the bit, and never say "her and I"


So, you know the expression “chomping at the bit”? Stop saying that. Because it doesn’t exist. Turns out it’s “champing at the bit:” “The verb 'champ' means 'to make a biting or chewing action with the jaws and teeth'...it was horses that were first said to be 'champing at the bit'; the bit being the mouthpiece of a horse's bridle.” (1)  Only really smart people know this. So, if you say “champing at the bit,” really smart people will think you’re really smart.

On another subject, one of my biggest pet peeves is that everybody seems to think that if they use the word “I” instead of “me” in an indirect object clause, they’ll sound smarter. Like this, from Timbaland:
“I got a plan for you and I. Let's journey across the Venetian skies.
Can I have some of your cookies, can I have some of your pie”

(First of all, gross, Timbaland, you can NOT have some of my pie.)  That’s all kinds of wrong.  In any phrase like “you and I” or “her and I” or “Jay and me,” you can remove the other person and see if the phrase works.  Like this: “I’ve got a plan for I” (note that I helped Timbaland out also with the missing verb – ‘ve).  We can all agree that “a plan for I” sounds ridiculous.  Actually the whole song is ridiculous.  It’s one of the worst songs I’ve ever heard.  You should totally listen to it on iTunes, just so you can be amazed at how bad it is. 

Annnyway, the words “her” and “him” should be grouped with “me,” NOT with “I!”  And “I” should be grouped with “he” and “she.”  It is NEVER ok to say “her and I” or “him and I.”  So in his song, “The Coolest,” Lupe Fiasco should not have said:
“And so began our reign. The trinity, her and I can.
No weather man could ever stand where her and I came.”

He should’ve said:

“And so began our reign. The trinity, she and I can.
No weather man could ever stand where she and I came”

Kanye West demonstrates an even dumber-sounding mistake – he’s not aware that the word “me” cannot be a subject!  You can’t say that “me went on tour,” so you also can’t say “Jay-Z and me went on tour.”  But since Kanye doesn’t read (as he told us on his VH-1 storytellers appearance) and he went to school just so he could do lunch and gym, he still uses this incorrect syntax:

Kanye West on Twitter: “When me and Jay toured... ever night I peered into the audience astonished...”

So, I guess the moral of the story is that if you are going to school just so you can hang out during lunch and gym, you better be a good rapper, because that’s the only career available to you where you can make a ton of money with absolutely atrocious grammar.

Sources:


Monday, July 9, 2012

Vid Blog - you CAN be nauseous, but you best not say "would of"


Click the link above for my VIDEO BLOG about how you CAN be nauseous, but you best not say you “would of” done anything.  Ever. 

If you prefer to read a blog rather than watch it, check the next post down! 

Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShadowSwan
Shadow Swans website: www.shadowswans.com
Buy Shadow Swans for 99 cents and make Laura rich: http://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Swans-ebook/dp/B0056C414I  

Turns out you CAN be nauseous, but you best not say you "would of" done something


Aww, snap.  I used to loooove jumping up on my grammar high horse when people said “I’m really nauseous.”  I’d tell those people that they were in effect stating that they were disgusting enough to make other people NAUSEATED.  Because, of course, we grammar sticklers think that the word “nauseous” only means “causing nausea,” whereas the word “nauseated” means” “feeling nausea.”  Well, we all need to take a deep breath and apologize, because we’re wrong.  According to Merriam-Webster, the definitions of nauseous are:
1.  causing nausea or disgust : nauseating
2.  affected with nausea or disgust

And M-W says: “Those who insist that nauseous can properly be used only in sense 1 and that in sense 2 it is an error for nauseated are mistaken.” http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nauseous

Ok but one thing I will not be shutting up about is how silly it makes you sound if you ever say that you “could of” or “would of” or “should of” done something blah blah.  There’s no such expression, so if you say that you’re just playin’ yourself.  What you should HAVE said is that you “could HAVE” or “would HAVE” done something.  Or you can say “could’ve” or “should’ve.”  This whole problem arises from the fact that “could’ve” sounds phonetically like “could of,” but alas, phonetics have screwed us again. 

Even the Biebs got it wrong last week when he Tweeted, “i could of sang to myself. it would of been like being in the shower.”  Come on, little Biebs, best get back in 7th  grade, or wherever you left off.  Rock Stardom ain’t makin’ you smarter. 

This, from the “Business Insider: “Imagine your investment adviser proposing a sweetened barbell portfolio…You would of likely canned the wacko faster than they sold Nike stock last week.” http://www.businessinsider.com/the-ideal-portfolio-gold-sugar-bunds-and-francs-2012-7
I recommend that you do not take business advice from someone who can’t speak proper high-school-level English. 

Here’s a T-Shirt you can buy, showing a picture of a Native American and proclaiming, “If only we would of had immigration laws.” Even if the writer had used the conditional perfect tense PROPERLY (i.e. “If only we would have had…”), the sentence would still be all wrong, because you don’t use conditional perfect tense with a past tense “if” clause. Only past perfect will do here: “If only we had had immigration laws.” 

But of course, I do hear what they’re saying.  If the Native Americans had had immigration policies, and refused us like we refuse so many immigrants now, imagine how the world would be different.  We might have a big healthy ozone layer up there.  Hard to say.  Regardless, I just don’t think it’s fair to put such bad grammar in the mouths of this continent's first inhabitants.   Kind of makes me nauseous.  

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Saturday, June 30, 2012

You cannot be bigger THEN I am, no matter how big you are.



Awww yeah, click the above link for a VIDEO blog on the rampant use of “then” as a comparison word.  If I see a phrase like “I am bigger then you” one more time, all the wine in the world may not be sufficient. 

If you prefer to read a blog rather than watch it, check the next post down! 

Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShadowSwan
Shadow Swans website: www.shadowswans.com

You cannot be bigger THEN I am, no matter how big you are.


I’m pretty sure that Americans are getting stupider.  Blame it on texting, or computers, or toxins, or bad teachers or whatever you want.  But it’s embarrassing to me that 77% of students in Oklahoma couldn’t name the first president of the United States.  And 1 in 5 Americans think the sun revolves around the Earth (if you don’t see anything wrong with that sentence, you best pack up and head back to 5th grade) (1). 

These days, Fortune 500 companies are spending about $3 billion a year just to retrain employees in basic English (2) because most of us read and write at an 8th-grade level (3). So, if you own a company, you have twelve-year-olds writing your press releases.  

I don’t claim to be grammar genius.  I make me some mistakes.  But FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, PEOPLE.  Basic grammar.  It’s not that hard. 

One thing that drives me crazy is the use of “then” instead of “than” as a comparison word.  Like when people say, “I’m smarter then you.”  NO YOU ARE NOT.  You can ONLY use “then” when you’re talking about something that is subsequent to something else.  If you’re comparing two things, use “than.”  Like, “If you say you’re smarter THAN I am, THEN I will prove you wrong.”  Bam.  But here’s how a bunch of 12-year-old-reading-level adults use “then” wrong all over the world:

From a newspaper: “Genetically enhancing intellectual capacities would result in a culture whereby the children are universally smarter then their parents for one generation.” http://www.mjtimes.sk.ca/Opinion/Columns/2012-05-31/article-2992667/Star-Trek-poohpoohs-the-superman/1
GAHHH!!!  A NEWSPAPER!!!  How can ANYONE hope to be smarter than their parents when NEWSPAPERS teach us awful grammar?  Might as well just sign us all up for Chinese sweat shops, ‘cause we’ll be working for them soon.  I bet the Chinese have some killer grammar.

And another NEWSPAPER: “Whites earn more then three-fourths of nation’s income”
If only income could be allotted according to people’s grasp of syntax.  That would be fair, I think.

Here’s a t-shirt you can buy on the internet: “I’m bigger then you” http://rlv.zcache.com/im_bigger_then_you_tshirt-p235017156292686334envm8_400.jpg
You may be bigger than I am, but I’m definitely smarter than you, so back off.

This Twitter page is called “Be more then average.” https://twitter.com/BMOREMISSES Sorry, dude, not gonna happen.

And finally, the NFL reinforcing every stereotype about the intelligence level of athletes and athlete posses: “Are you bigger then the game?”
Shoot me now.

For the record, in case it hasn’t sunk in, ALL of the above should use the word “than” instead of “then.”  And George Washington was the first president of the United States.  And the Earth revolves around the sun.

Sources:



Saturday, June 23, 2012

Video Blog about Grocer's Apostrophe!



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxd73i5omew


The above link is for my first video blog (awww yeah, I'm growin' up in the blogger world!), and it's about how unnecessary apostrophes makes me want to drink wine. It's similar to the written blog in the post below this one, so you can choose whether you prefer to look and listen, or read. Somethin' for everyone, you know? xo



BTW, I must give props to my brilliant friend Dana Beck, who helped me to conceptualize this vlog.  Hopefully she'll join me for a Grammarfiti sesh soon. 



Follow me on Twitter yo! http://twitter.com/ShadowSwan

Website: http://www.shadowswans.com

Friday, June 22, 2012

Grocer's Apostrophe - one of the main things that make me drink wine

It attacks us from the sky, from the wires under our feet, from within our cell phones, from street signs and maps and newspapers and sandwich shops and gravestones.  The world is infected by it.  Bad Grammar.  And, you know, I really really wish that I weren’t such a nerd, but bad grammar makes me want to hit things.  *she takes a long pull of wine, straight from bottle*

My absolute least favorite pervasive grammar problem is the Grocer’s Apostrophe, which is “An apostrophe erroneously inserted before the final "s" in the plural form of a word.” (http://www.wordspy.com/words/greengrocersapostrophe.asp)

In an unsettling and widespread pandemic, people everywhere have taken to putting apostrophes in words to pluralize them.  Here are some photos (or should I say “photo’s”) of signs that use the skin-crawling Grocer’s Apostrophe:

“Pizza’s Kebabs Curry’s” 
This sign is my favorite.  Somebody actually decided that more than one pizza or curry demands an apostrophe, but somehow kebabs can roll without the extra character.

“If we’re ready to tackle swine flu, pig’s can fly”
THIS IS FROM A PUBLISHED NEWSPAPER, which, to me, just shows that this problem is perhaps more insidious than the swine flu itself.

Kanye West Twitter: “This one of our projects to be released this year called 2016 OLYMPIC's”
I decided to look for a Grocer’s Apostrophe on a celeb Twitter page, and the FIRST page I looked at revealed one to me immediately.  Of course, I picked Kanye West, who says that he doesn’t read because he can get all the education he needs from television, so I mean it’s no big surprise.  But the sad fact is that kids these days (OMG I just said “kids these days.”  I am becoming a mean old lady) emulate people like Kanye West, so his grammar will become theirs.  *she drinks more wine* 

Unlimited Food’s
This Grocer’s Apostrophe is like 3 feet tall.  Somebody spent A LOT OF MONEY on that sign.  Proofread much?

Deep Fried Oreo’s
I mean maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that deep-fried-Oreo-lovers aren’t grammar mavens, but I personally think we need to tackle this problem from the ground up. 

*wine*

So, please spread the news far and wide.  WE DO NOT PLURALIZE WORDS BY ADDING AN APOSTROPHE IN ENGLISH.  An apostrophe indicates possession (something belongs to that word) or contraction (the apostrophe indicates that some letters have been omitted).

Example of how to use an apostrophe to indicate possession: If you’re going to write the phrase “Deep Fried Oreo’s,” you gotta immediately follow that word with something that belongs to the oreo.  Like maybe the Deep Fried Oreo’s ability to clog your arteries on the spot? 

Example of how to use an apostrophe as a contraction: If you’re going to write the phrase “Unlimited Food’s,” you best be ready to say that “Giving your pet fish unlimited food’s only going to lead to a messy situation for you and the fish.” 

I think we should take markers with us wherever we go, and wipe out Grocer's Apostrophes wherever we find them.  We can call it "Grammarfiti."  What you think?    


Me loves you.  Mwwwwah.

Follow me on Twitter yo!  http://twitter.com/shadowswan

Link to previous blog site!

All previous blog posts on Self Publishing, Writers' Conferences, how to get an agent, how to write a synopsis, Nanowrimo, etc. can be found on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5068859.Laura_Thomas/blog

From here on out I'll be on the blogspot!