June 26, 2005

Is Collagen Sushi Far Behind?

Hollywood has brought us laughter, tears and the occasional provocation of thought. But it took over 100 years of Tinseltown to give us a new species of fish. I can't wait for collagen nigiri, coming to a high-end sushi bar near you!

Elisita's blog is a funny 20-something's commentary on the cult of personality. (I recommend checking out her comments on Bradgelina -- especially the Kung Fu link.)

The original post came from here. (Product Endorsement of the Week: Renee Zellweger Extremely Sour Lemon Candy.)

June 19, 2005

left or right, brain?

Despite my status as a confirmed word nerd, I've been readmitted to UBC based on my ages-old status as a Physics Major. I'm undecided if I should pursue this again, as it would require waking long-dormant parts of the cerebrum. Frankly I went into slight convulsions when I cracked open my old first-year calculus book; should I take this as a challenge or a sign?

Considering my work as an editor, writer and teacher of English, further study in linguistics, language acquisition and pedagogy would probably be better use of my classroom time. On the other hand, there's a little thing called balance...


June 10, 2005

goin' back to school

I've gone and done it. I'm all applied, paid up and awaiting my UBC registration date.

Strange for a teacher to say this, but I'm nervous as hell to be going back to school.

Wish me luck.

June 5, 2005

Calling Webster

Lax Western education, worldwide ESL courses and the ubiquity of the modern keyboard have resulted in some very interesting mistakes being made; many are in blogs and messenger windows, but the sad truth is an increasing number are found in business correspondence, building signage and even text books.

I've decided that the "harmless" typo is no longer something to be ignored. I consider myself to be the research scientist going after the cure for the common cold. How many millions of dollars in corporate resources, consumer budgets and even sufferers' lives are wasted on coughing, sneezing and snot production? I suggest that typos are, indeed, the common cold of communication, and the sooner we eradicate them the better.

My solution? I'm going to come up with definitions for words my friends, coworkers and colleagues accidentally slip into conversation, chats or communiqués. To wit, fifference.

fifference: (adjective) -- unable to play music at the same speed or pitch as others in an organised group of musicians; when able to play at the same pitch or speed, unable to begin playing at the proper time.

He looks good with that cello, but he's so fifferent from the rest of the orchestra he'll be asked to leave by the conductor.

related words: fiffer (verb: to be fifferent); fifference (noun: the quality of being fifferent), infifferent (adjective: without care regarding the presence or absence of fifference), infifference (noun: the quality of feeling infifferent).

June 3, 2005

A chat with Sparrow

The following was written for The Neighbourhood, a collaborative fiction effort started by my good friend Briana:

A chat with Sparrow

I sat nervously at the table, nursing a latté and admiring her honey-coloured hair. Her eyes sparkled tentatively, hesitant freckles dotting the bridge of her nose.

It was an hour before I realised, she spoke without pause, seeming not even to draw breath. Those eyes, that nose – they were the only shy things about her.

“Everyone keeps talking about this ‘SkyTrain.’ I was like, ‘I haven’t seen it, and I drive,’ you know, like, ‘where is it? I see the sky, sure, like, but y’know, where’s this train you speak of, dude?’”

It was like those Tibetan throat singers who chant continually, using mystical, alternative breath control to keep a constant, droning tone for 30 minutes.

“I turned off the stove, you know, like totally turned it off, and everything, and went to watch this completely hilarious show on TV, that I like never miss, and by the time the show was like, half-finished, the fire alarm went off, and I was like, ‘what is that?’ You know, totally ‘Am I hearing something?’ because we’ve like never had like a practice drill or anything, so I went downstairs, totally to the street corner and everything and I was utterly freezing for like an hour before the fire department decided it was time they came and like wouldn’t let us back in until around like four a.m. or something like that and they like asked to speak to me, like, oh my god, I was like, ‘Like I’d date a fireman,’ y’know, and my roommate was like, ‘Like a fireman would date you,’ and she’s such a bitch sometimes, and like it was hilarious, you know, cos the cookies kept cooking even though the oven was totally off, you know?”

Constant, droning tone.

Like bagpipes.

“Spooky, don’tcha think?”

It had been so long since I’d been invited to take part in the conversation, I’d forgotten how to speak altogether. My larynx had devolved into a vestigial organ, without use or purpose. Teams of scientists had formed committees, written papers and wasted millions in government grants trying to establish the biological function of what remained of my voice box. The sternocleidomastoid muscles – the ones that wrap forward from the base of the jaw to the front of the sternum – had atrophied so dramatically that moving my head from side to side took both hands and nearly all of my effort.

At one point, what had once been my vocal cords had become little more than nerve ganglia – they inflamed and threatened to burst; a top ear, nose and throat surgeon had to be flown in from Bavaria to perform the tricky operation, cleverly transposed from a text book appendectomy. Through weeks of intense physiotherapy, however, I’d learned to communicate using a complex system of hand gestures, clicking noises and knuckle cracking; while I’d waited several lifetimes for her question, she didn’t have to wait long for a response.

Click crick wave, snappity crack clap.

“That’s so sweet!”

Shake click.

“That reminds me of this vacuum cleaner I had a while back, like, so worthless, you know...”

And that, Sparrow, is how I met your mother.

Have bio, will travel

... or more precisedly, will teach.

My work is an ESL school in Vancouver called Worldwide Language Institute. We were asked this week to type up a biography of ourselves for the website, which is both a self-flattering and slightly embarrassing experience. Considering I'm writing for an English as a not-native language audience, the content has to be both fun and easy to understand.

Here's mine:

Hi! I was born in Vancovuer, and have been at WLI since it opened. Right now I teach conversation and Cambridge test preparation courses. In my spare time, I like to hike and camp in the mountains. When I'm here in the city, though, I like to watch movies and hang out at my favourite coffee shop.

I have a long history with the English language; before I became an English teacher, I was a freelance writer and editor -- I've been published in 47 different newspapers and magazines, including the WestEnder, the Vancouver Sun and even CBC Radio! I've helped native speakers improve their writing and spelling, and taught pure beginners with their first, "Hello!" No matter what your level is, I'd love to help you improve!