Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hair Today, Hair Tomorrow

I'll have you know that this is my 111th post, which, if anything, is even cooler than my 100th!
Well, my new haircut has met with mixed responses. The majority of them have been favorable (those who didn't approve have mostly either been good liars or had the good sense to keep quiet), but I got a few negative reactions too.
There was my coworker who was so shocked, she just kept walking through the store exclaiming, "You didn't cut your hair! You did not cut your hair! What does your mama think?" to which I responded honestly, "I'm not sure if she knows yet." (Got to call my mother!) But really, don't you think the days when my mother could dictate my appearance are long past? My mom stopped telling me how to dress when I was in kindergarten. Actually, I wish she had encouraged me to dress in a more socially acceptable fashion... I wonder what kind of person I'd be today if I hadn't been so dowdy when I was a kid. But I digress.

There was my Facebook friend who commented, "VALERIE YOU DIDNT!!!!! :(" Hey, now, friend-who-shall-remain-nameless, you weren't the one who had to brush out this overgrown mop every day! You weren't the one who was facing depression due to a lack of new styles to put your hair into (and a dwindling number of tried-and-true styles that were succumbing one by one the gravitational forces continuously growing stronger against your continuously growing mass of hair). Perhaps you appreciated my hair long, but I myself had had more than enough.

Then there was the friend I told over the phone, whose response was an appalled, "Why did you do that?" I answered, "Because I got tired of it. None of the styles looked good any more." And he said, with murder in his voice, "Did someone tell you that?" No, I told him, and I thought to myself vindictively, "This wouldn't be such a shock if you had actually been paying attention when I told you I was planning to do it!"

But regardless of my own personal opinions on these few negative replies in a sea of compliments, one thing remains a fact: It will grow back. And I will grow it back. Because that's what I always do. Just wait a couple years...and in the meantime, relax already! And enjoy all the fun short hair styles that I will discover and wear for your amusement.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Doing the do

Vanity dictates that I share this story with you.

It began in September of 2004, when I cut my hair short for the last time, and ends today in 2010, when I cut my hair short for the new last time. As you know if you read this blog regularly, I was in quite a quandary over whether I should go under the scissors, but by a week later, I was pretty sure I was going to do it, and the only question was when.

After my mid-August trip to Ohio was the answer. That way all my family could see me with my familiar keratinous tentacles, and afterward, I could devote my attention to finding a salon without having vacation packing to distract me.

I really did need to devote my attention to finding a salon, because, after going without a haircut for nearly 6 years, I wanted to make sure that when the big change happened, I would get it done right. Whenever I cruised the streets, I kept my eyes peeled for hair cutting establishments. One day when I was shopping, I stopped into two salons in the neighborhood. At the first, Shear Pleasure, the lady at the front desk was outrageously friendly, answered all my questions, and gave me a brochure. At the second, there was nobody at the front desk, all 5 people in the store looked at me when I walked in the door but no one said anything. I stood there for a few moments, awkwardly waiting for some acknowledgement, then I picked up a brochure and left. Turns out their prices were higher than the prices at the other place. And for what, I ask? Hostility and superior attitudes? The second place, by the way, was Viva Salon, so if you're ever planning to get your hair cut in College Park, I recommend you don't go there.

I set up an appointment at Shear Pleasure a few days later. The night before my appointment, I braided my hair and chopped most of it off, partly to ensure that it was in good condition to donate, partly to save myself the trauma of losing 5 years of work in a public place, and partly to obviate any fees that the salon might charge for cutting longer hair. (I'm still not sure if they charge extra for cutting your hair completely off if it's long, or if they only charge extra if you have long hair and you're getting it trimmed.)

I documented the process on this Facebook video, and I am pleased to say that the results make me happy. SO looking forward to not spending nearly an hour every day brushing out my tangles!

Here's a clip from my video.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Past takes on present in the tensest battle of the century!

While writing my last post, I blundered right into the grammar conundrum to end all grammar conundrums--"can and have."

It's a phraselet (←neologism by Valerie!) tossed around casually by English-speaking communicators everywhere—but when you stop to think about it, it makes no sense!

In Monday's post, I was going to write, "...corporate entities can and have defended the exclusive rights to a color," when I realized that clause would be a grammatical impossibility. If you subject it to the acid test (the same one by which you determine whether you should say "you and I" or "you and me") by removing the "and" and all questionable words following it, you get a mixed-tense mishmash that would make any deceased English teacher turn over in her grave. To whit, "corporate entities can defended the exclusive rights..."

In my search for a grammatically correct alternative, I produced the decidedly ungraceful (and dubiously grammatical) "corporate entities can (and have done so) defend the exclusive rights..." that appears in the published post.

Surprisingly, the grammarians seem to have nothing to say on this subject. In fact, as my Google search for "'can and have' grammar" revealed, the phrase is used in many a grammar guide, but never discussed in one.

My unique puzzlement over this phrase makes me feel as though (that's right, I said "as though" instead of "like" because the grammar guides do have plenty to say on that subject!) I am either:
  1. Very clever for noticing something no one else does,
  2. Obnoxiously pedantic and should stop obsessing over ungrammatical phrases if they don't obstruct meaning, and probably should stop obsessing over grammar in general, or
  3. Very stupid and missing something obvious.

Monday, August 23, 2010

That's my purple! You can't have it!

"The color PINK is a registered trademark of Owens Corning."

When I read this statement at the foot of the Owens Corning homepage, I was taken aback.

What? Pink? How can you trademark a color? Especially something as generic as "pink!" I've heard of some rich people developing their own proprietary Pantone color, but trademarking "pink?" Just plain pink? Breast cancer support groups everywhere would be doomed. Newborn baby girls' wardrobes would be decimated. Maybe they only mean PINK with all capital letters. Trademarking "pink?" Is that even possible?

I was so appalled by this concept, that I had to some research. It turns out that color trademarking is, in fact, an accepted practice, and (as are all legal matters) very complicated and subject to subtle rules and the interpretation of judges. Check out this page on color trademarks to learn just how corporate entities can (and have done so) defend the exclusive rights to a color.

What I take away from my readings is that, if a color is very closely associated with a good or service a company provides, then they can legally prevent competitors from using that color. However, non-competitors—that is, people providing a distinctly different type of good or service—are free to use the color with abandon. So, breast cancer groups are probably safe from the wrath (and legal action) of Owens Corning, unless they decide to go into the insulation business.

Friday, August 20, 2010

To classify the unclassifiable song.... File that under "Musicals," by the way!

Today a coworker said, "outside they're listening to hard rock, and in here it's techno." By techno, he meant the stuff I was listening to. I wanted to tell him: actually, this kind of music is called "Happy Hardcore." But he was already gone. And he probably wouldn't have cared anyway. I think music phylogeny is a topic of obsession only to me (and now, by dint of their role as a captive audience, my readers!). But I'm still just a learner in this vast library of nomenclature. I'm starting to get a handle on identifying the various electronic dance subgenres that I like to listen to, but other styles of music still mystify me.

Like, what makes certain kinds of rock "alternative?" What's really the difference between hip-hop and rap? That stuff I hear on the radio – that I just lump into a big bundle I call "pop" – would some of it be better classified as "R&B?" Is "Indie" really a musical style, or is it more of a lifestyle? If "indie" artists sign on to a big label, then do they still get called "indie?"

Of course, none of this would be a problem except that I'm anal retentive and won't be satisfied until there's a place for everything and everything's in its place. Other people just throw all their digital music in a giant folder and call it a day. I have to rename the file according to artist and song name, and put it in a folder corresponding to genre. Then I have to make sure all the ID3 tags are complete with album name and release year duly noted, any alternate genres listed in the "notes" field, the composer and performer credited separately if they are both well known, and mood and tempo listed if I think about it. (Some day, I hope all these ridiculous practices will help me create auto-playlists that respond to my every whim. But first I have to wait until the auto-playlist-building technology improves to meet my exacting requirements.)

The other source of my taxonomy problem is my pretty darn eclectic tastes. I don't think many people have media libraries filled with equal parts classical, dance, video game soundtrack, oldies, new age, and modern rock (Plus a smattering of country, various forms of electronic, synthpop, show tunes, rap, and—well, you get the picture). Actually, maybe they do, but all I know is, when coworkers wander in to the sound of my beloved recording of The Hampsterdance Song, and then later they pass by while I'm blasting Eminem (quietly—it's work you know!), they act mighty amused. I'm a nice girl by reputation, so one bats an eye when they learn I listen to Rogers and Hammerstein soundtracks...but they practically fall over in shock when I tell them I have stuff by Marilyn Manson too.

I can't help it! I like what I like! If it makes me happy, I like it. If it sounds strange and interesting, I like it. If it mirrors my mood when my mood is grouchy or depressed, I like it. I am not bound by genre. I like my classical music as much as any snob, but I'm not so highfalutin' that I can't appreciate a good rap when I hear it (er, let's rephrase that to "a rap that I think is good" I don't claim to know the first thing about what constitutes quality in rap music). I like dance music because it's fun—but I like lots of dark electro/experimental stuff because it's ominous. Unlike many people I know, I refuse to hate country on the grounds that it's country. I have stuff that's new age. I have stuff that's old as the hills. I have stuff that I only like for the lyrics, and I have other stuff that I completely ignore the lyrics of and focus only on the sound.

I may sound like I'm making myself out to be some kind of benevolent, egalitarian, music-loving angel, but the point I'm trying to make (in the most self-congratulatory way possible, of course!) is that my broad tastes sure make it difficult for me to indulge my obsessive-compulsive side. I imagine, with a certain amount of wistfulness, how easy my life would be if I only listened to, oh, hard rock. Just one genre. No infinite categories to break down and define.

By the way, anyone know what genre to call Fish Heads, by Barnes and Barnes?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Writing on Seeing

Well, it's been a while since I last wrote, and being unmotivated to come up with anything new, I'll just dredge up this old blog entry I wrote for my Words and Images class. Not that I remember what "chapter" I was talking about.

September 19, 2007

I really loved this chapter (1) in Seeing & Writing! It just reminded me - and I love being reminded of this - how everything in the world can be fascinating if you only take the time to pay attention to it. It's so gratifying to find yourself really appreciating such small, commonplace, oft-overlooked things--a band-aid (ahem, adhesive bandage) plastered to the road, blackened in the places where it's been ground into the asphalt by hundreds of passing feet...an oddly shaped droplet of water on your desk...a tube of toothpaste shaped like a whale...

I'm including pictures, but probably they'll mean nothing to anybody but me (by now, they mean much less than they did, even to me. I think a good deal of the magic that comes from observing the ordinary simply exists in the first moment you see it), but here they are--two items that, for a moment at least, sent my mind soaring towards some sort of revelation (it still hasn't gotten all the way there).
What a cool water droplet!a toothpaste whale!

I could probably devote a lifetime to exploring the wonders of the commonplace, but I do have two other projects to be working on, so I'll end by sharing just one excerpt from the chapter, which was this quote from the essay, "Seeing": "Thoreau, in an expansive mood, exulted, 'What a rich book might be made about buds, including, perhaps, sprouts!'" I love how he tacks on the part about sprouts, as if it were an afterthought, and then adds an exclamation point, as if it were the most thrilling afterthought that ever occurred to him. Not many people could wax so ecstatic about a vegetable, but the mind attuned to buds and other growing things could no doubt devote a lifetime to exploring the wonders of sprouts!

Of course, maybe I'm just in an expansive mood myself, but I'm pretty thrilled to be living in a world where every little thing can be the cause of endless fascination.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Fun with phrases that employ similar phonemes to humorous effect

It's true that all last post, I glorified Melvil Dewey and his campaign to simplify the English language. But for all that I love order and tidiness and systems that make sense, I'm kind of glad he didn't succeed.

If he had, I never would have had the opportunity to feel like a big shot for getting my photo in the paper prior to my appearance at the Toledo Blade Spelling Bee. Yeah! Spelling bees are fun! And if Melvil had succeeded, I also never would have experienced the crushing defeat that comes after forgetting to put the P in "neuropathy." ... Never mind. Spelling bees aren't that much fun after all.

But if we reformed our language, we'd also lose the opportunity to ponder those funny inconsistencies that are so...ponderable. Like, why is it that a "prisoner" is someone in prison, but a "jailer" is someone who puts people in jail? See? Inconsistencies are fun! Oh—here's another one! Why is the suffix "ee" always used to convert a transitive verb into its object...except in the case of "attendee", in which "ee" is used to convert a transitive verb into its subject? Huh. That was a little complicated. Maybe inconsistencies aren't that much fun after all, either.

But wait! I know one thing about the English language that will always be fun! Puns! If all words that sounded the same were spelled the same, not only would their meanings be pretty confusing, but lots of jokes would lose their effect. In honor of jokes, take a gander at these uproarious buckets of humor! (Yes, I made them up.)
Q:What do you call the person who gives the central speech at a grain farmers' convention?
A: The quinoa-oat speaker!
Did you hear the one about the raisin who decided to write its life story?
Yeah. It's called, "As I Lay Drying."

How about the one about the compulsive crafter?
The title is, "As I Lay DIYing."
Cue the laugh track, and give thanks for English!