I realized that one of my favorite places to go in New York City -- is my couch.
Photo of Watson and me at work: Sonja Lashua Fagan.
The other photos, lame as they are, are mine.
When you’re reading a really dreadful book, see at the bottom of the kindle-page that you have 7 hours and 14 minutes left with the vile thing—and think that surely death would be preferable.
One of the secretaries I work with, we’ll call her Cindy, had asked me where she could find greeting cards because two nearby stores had both closed recently.
Cindy is sweet and she tries hard, but she is also maybe not the brightest bulb on the marquee. I started to give her very simple directions, but I could tell pretty quickly from her expression that I was losing her. I suggested we look at a map, but she explained that that wouldn’t help.
“My two worst subjects in school,” she said, “were history and geography and math.”
Particularly weak on the math, I guess.
I don’t mean lol or stfu, but the one-syllable versions of longer words. They’re really nothing new, just the newest form of what I think of as British schoolboy slang: think ‘fab’ and ‘brill.’
But some these new abbreves present some extra challenges for the novelist, to wit: How the aitch do you spell them?
A beautiful guy may be said to be ‘gorge’ – or is it ‘gorj’? The copy editor wanted ‘gorg,’ but that looked way wrong to me, and for my purposes, these things have to be decipherable by someone not totally hip to the truncated patois.
Those crazy kids over at Merriam-Webster did a thing recently on the shortened form of usual--
I’ll have the yoozh.
and came to no conclusion on the spelling (“yoozh” being my pick).
One of my characters (Tommy, who adores slang as much as I do) referred to a cordial break-up as being “totally mooch.” I’m not sure that’s quite right, and it probably should have ‘myooch’—but it seems to me your brain has to stop and work that one out, which kills any chance at comedy.
Here’s one I’ve wanted to use but haven’t, just because of this pesky issue of orthography—the first-syllable form of casual.
He leaned against the Maserati, looking elegant and cazh.
If you saw that, would you even have a clue? I’ve even heard a tennis announcer use it as a verb--
He cazhed the ball straight into the net.
But does that even look like English?
One way to get past the clarity problem is to make it redundant.
He was relaxed and cazh.
Maybe you’d get it that way.
Nonchalant and cazh.
Nonchalant—there’s a good one.
He looked completely nonsh, in deck shoes and a cream-colored cardigan—and nothing else.
I’ll leave you with that picture, before these spelling questions make us all totes cray.
I always think of this little poem from Rudyard Kipling.
Going into WWI, Kipling was a hugely pro-war idiot. That was until his son was killed at the Battle of Loos—the kid was only 18—and RK realized how wrong he was. I think that makes this little poem that much more devastating.
From Kipling’s Epitaphs (1914-1918):
If any question why we died,
Tell them—because our fathers lied.
File under “New York Stories.”
Late one Sunday morning I was on my way in to work—it happens—and I was walking down a largely deserted Sixth Avenue. Tourists were over on Fifth for the shopping, or over on Seventh because of Times Square, etc., but Sixth was quiet and all locked up.
And I could hear bagpipes. Bagpipes? The sound got louder as I walked, until there, in front of a building set back from the street and up a few steps, stood a young guy with his pipes. He was probably around 20, totally cute, and all kitted out from the silly hat and the kilt, right down to the socks and the wonky shoes.
The Scottish boy wasn’t playing at that moment because he was busy posing. A tourist couple (judging from the bows, they were Japanese) were taking his picture, and the kid really threw himself into it. He puffed his chest out and tossed back his head with these red curls, and the couple took several pictures.
And then, amid more bows, they gave the young bagpiper his phone back and went on their way.
In this era of selfies, I probably shouldn’t have been that surprised—but it still made me laugh.
I recently read a horror novel, nameless here forevermore, that was, to put it mildly, not terribly good. I was slogging my way through this thing, having a really hard time keeping my eyes open for more than a couple pages at a go, and I was hoping I was close to the end of the thing, when the book finally scared me.
I turned the page and my blood ran cold.
There, in bold print, stood the terrifying words:
When somebody is from Guam, do you say s/he’s…what?
Guamian? And if Guamian, does that then get anglicized into rhyming with, say, Bahamian, so it's Gwaymian?
Or.............is that person a Guamite?
I was completely taken by surprise when Book Bytes Reviews suddenly had my book up for Book of the Week, an honor they probably only bestow, oh, once a week or so, I imagine.
There were five books on the ballot, and the other four were all from authors with a dozen books, and gigantic and rabid fan clubs. I knew I would be utterly flabbergasted if I didn't come in dead last.
You can then imagine just how gasted my flabber was when I finished third. Woot!
Thanks to all who chipped in to save my ego.