Over the years I’ve had the more curious friends, family and co-workers inquire about various things I’ve done in my life. Since they tend to ask the same questions, I thought I’d throw together a little Beth FAQ.
1. Beth, your minor was in English, can you edit my [insert anything from documents to stories]
No. All my English minor means is that I am fairly well-read. Well, it doesn’t even mean that. It means I’ve read a long list of books that someone with some authority declared you “should” read to be considered a valuable member of society and I fell for it. It also means that I’ve spent hours dreaming up random meanings for words like “dirt” – as in, “when Buck uses the imagery of “dirt” in “The Good Earth”, it symbolizes her belief that an army of zombie children will rise up from the grave and establish themselves as the true totalitarian leaders over a pitiful corpse fearing peasant class.” In fact, I’ll give you a tip about successfully discussing symbolism – professors love the outlandish especially if you can “sell” it. If you can convince them that a peanut represents the Battle of Thermopylae and each half of the shell represents the opposing forces, then your work is done. Bravo. You are now well on your way to getting a minor in English. Convince them that “The DaVinci Code” is actually a statement about the injustices that befell the Czechoslovakian government in exile during WWII and you may be on your way to majoring in English.
What my minor doesn’t mean is that I want to spend one second tracking down your faulty parallelism, your tautologies or even attempt to determine if you would have been better off saying “that” over “which”.
Basically, your best bet is to find the non-English minors if you want something edited accurately; they can diagram a sentence. We AP English kids who were hand-picked and groomed to ace English in college cannot write a sentence. I’m just typing these with my mind.
2. Didn’t your cubicle mate at work call you an “English Nazi”?
No. Are you spying on me? Creepy.
3. Beth, you have a blog, therefore, you must also write fiction. When are you writing a novel?
Errr… no. I write and post letters. I just leave off the “Dear…” because it would confuse you guys and you’d feel like I was playing favorites with someone. Honestly, though that’s truly the origins of the blog – one of my friends was a little too nice about a letter I wrote and then two of them worked together to bring you this Mess – blame them. As for writing fiction – while I occasionally stretch the truth a tad to hopefully give the situation a more humorous spin, I just repeat other people’s stories. If I were to write something wholly fictitious, it would read like a really bad Dick & Jane novel. So, don’t loiter around Barnes & Noble waiting for your copy of “Dick & Jane vs. Tip & Mitten: Lollipop of DOOOM” any time soon – it will never make it to press.
Trust me, I’ve tried fiction. I’m just not that kind of storyteller.
4. You speak German and it makes me nervous when you eavesdrop on me talking about girls. Can you knock it off?
Really, you switched into a foreign language to talk privately about girls and you’ve got one year of German under your belt? Trust me 007, everyone understands what you’re saying. Are you 12?
5. Are you really a martial arts guru?
Yes. Don’t talk to my friends, though. They lie.
6. You play viola. Is that like a violin?
Yes. Except it’s better. All reasonable, forward thinking violinist will agree. (I’m looking at you, Erika.)
7. Can you teach me about music?
Sure. It started with someone probably beating someone else and they made a peculiar, yet compelling sound. Then they beat more people who made different sounds (see, these were exceptionally violent times) which created harmonic lines – eventually a tortured chorus was heard and people thought “this is pretty good”, which brings us to the Spanish Inquisition. A little known fact – Torquemada was a music critic, which is why no one liked to perform for him. Unfortunately, he tended to bump off the worst singers. See, a little history for you – and you claim to never learn anything from my writing. (See reference to why I don’t write fiction.)
8. Was that an indefinite pronoun reference in the above answer.
Yes. There are probably comma splices and awkward sentences, too. Just because I know what I do wrong (and choose not to fix it) doesn’t mean I’m interested in pointing out what you do wrong. At least not to you.
9. Must you speak Spanish with a heavy accent.
Yes. You whining about it will only make it worse.
10. You seem to know a lot about RPGs and online gaming. Is it true those people all suffer from Asperger syndrome and eat babies?
Yes. Every “gamer” I know. It’s tragic. It’s also true that none of them have ever dated. They all live at their mom’s… in the basement… and have every fast food delivery place on speed dial. It’s also a bad idea to look them directly in the eyes. Please, for your own safety, avoid eye contact.
11. Wow. A lot of indefinite pronoun references again.
Was there a question in that statement?
12. Finally, is the Blue Mess really that big? for that matter, is it truly blue? Or is it cyan? or even aqua?
Actually, the BBM has a tiny following estimated at exactly two people, both bullied relatives, but calling it the Puny Blue Mess or the Hardly Noticeable Blue Mess just doesn’t have the same ring. And since it’s a well known fact that messes only occur in the blue spectrum, which is part of the visible spectrum or the electromagnetic spectrum, if you prefer – it distinguishes itself by being quite messy. As for cyan, aqua or even periwinkle, no. This is a true blue. A deep navy blue. Not some sissy poser blue.
I really hope this has cleared some things up. But if you two have any more questions, just ask.
Seth, you’re probably onto something about Travis. I later had the point driven into my head again by a fellow student in a philosophy class. I gave it a whirl by writing something somewhat outlandish about philosopher and amazingly it worked. It seemed like my wackiest papers scored the absolute best.
Tony, you have your PhD in math. I’m sure using words like “corollary” are the least of your offenses. And yes, you are indeed the only person to ask question #12. As you probably guessed, when I asked you for a question the other day, it was part of a social experiment. The results of which (not that) will not be disclosed to the participants. How good are you with mazes?
So as a corollary to #12 (yes, as a math major I get to use words like corollary), the definition of “frequently” used here is any number greater than 0, since that would represent half or more of the available audience pool. Hence the appearance of the question that (which?) I (and presumably no one else) recently asked.
My theory re: your point #1 was that the TA and/or Professor who had to read 30 or 90 papers was so bored reading the same damn regurgitated points over and over, any paper with an outrageous assertion perked up their attention. (I used the technique too by the way – maybe its something we learned at Travis? Horrors…)