Thursday, April 24, 2014

Language Arts Part Three...Not TWO.

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Distinguishing between two, too, and to are probably the hardest. Now that I've committed to writing this post, I'm thinking it's going to be the hardest to explain...

What the hell have I got myself into? I'll try anyway...

Let's start with TO--In the olden days, before Microsoft and Windows, computer classes required us to learn basic programming. Long story short, the most common input I remember was the command 'GOTO'. I think of 'to' as a 'go' word. "Where are you off to?" "I'm off to the store." You know how to spell 'go' so now you know which 'to' you can use.

The second one to discuss (See what I did there? We are going TO discuss TWO) is the number TWO. This one is a little hard to explain logically, and it gets worse in the next paragraph. Okay...When you make a 'W' with your fingers, there are three fingers you use. HOWEVER, the letter 'w' is put together with 2 'v's. It also has 2 points on the bottom.  I'm REALLY hoping that resonates with you people, because if it doesn't I got nuthin'.

At last, we have TOO. This one is going to be the hardest because there are TWO 'o's in TOO. How do I make this make sense? This word basically means 'as well' or 'also'.  Like: "I'm going to the movies." "Me too." Me as well. And now the first 'o' has a buddy next to him to go with. They are a pair of circles going to the show.

THEN the is the extreme TOO. Why extreme? because it has a tendency to enunciate a little more, a little more 'oomph'. Notice how you use a few more 'o's when you want to make more of a point? Example "Oooooh!" or "Gooood!"

My favorite local drag queen, Chelsea Horrendous, posted on Facebook one day saying. "I'm dying my hair blonde. Hopefully I won't do anything to stupid." to which I immediately replied "*too ;)"  (For the record, he said "And so it begins...") Doesn't it look better with the proper spelling? "I hope I don't do anything too stupid." Think of this particular usage as an 'impact' word.

I hope these were helpful, and that I didn't come across as condescending. I figured instead of bitching about people who can't tell the difference between these words, why not try to help them learn to use them? How did I do? 'Cause that was WORK. Thank God for teachers.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Language Arts Part Two---Are we THERE Yet?

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I'm pretty lucky. I've never had a problem with phonics. It just seems to come naturally to me, even before I read my first big word, 'Flashlight.' So many people aren't that fortunate. The English language can be such a bitch to grasp with its ridiculous vowel rules that sometimes don't make sense even if you were born into an English speaking household. (Don't get me started on 'i' before 'e', except after 'c'.)

For example--Their, they're and there. Again, I don't have issues with these words, but I can completely understand why others do. I think I have a solution.

First we have Their. This is a possessive word. The best way I can remember it, is it has the word 'heir' in it. We understand that the word 'heir' means someone who has inherited something. Someone left them something, they became an 'heir', so that something became theirs. Sounds a little silly, I know, but I think it works. If something belongs to somebody, it's theirs. Not yours.

Then we have They're, the contraction for they are. As in "They're going the wrong way." If you write this, and you're wondering if you used the right word, read it to yourself as the the full words. "They are going the wrong way." If it looks right that way, then you spelled it correctly.

There can be tricky if you have spelling issues, maybe. I like to think it's easy, because there has the word 'here' in it. As in, if you aren't here, you're there. 

*Sidenote: If you have trouble spelling the difference between here and hear, remember the one for sound and listening has the word 'ear' in it.

In conclusion, if you're confused as to which one to use, try these cues...

"It's there problem." It's here problem? It's they are problem? Or do they own it now? Which is correct?

"Their going to be here at midnight." They own going to the midnight? Here at here at midnight? Or they ARE going to be here at midnight?

"The phone is over they're." The phone is over they are? The phone is being possessed? Or is it not right here, but just a little further away?

Again, I hope this helps. I'll write one more about the difference between two, too, and to soon.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Language Arts for YOUR Information--Part One

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When I was in Grade Nine I had a fantastic Language Arts teacher named Dixie Stickel. She was one of those teachers that had a gift for education and truly loved the kids she worked with. I miss her, and I wish I could find her and tell her I became a writer. I'd like to thank her for her valuable lessons.

The one I remember the most is the meaning of an 'idiolect'. I'm one of the few people I know that often contemplates what it means, so indulge me as I tell you...

An idiolect is the manner of which an individual speaks to the people in his or her life. You don't walk up to your priest and say "Duuuuude! How's it hanging?" Just like you don't saunter up to a chick in the bar and say, "By all intents and purposes, I believe you might possibly be the most divine woman I have ever gazed upon." But I'd be curious to see if that worked.

ANYWAY she used to teach little memory tricks to help us recall answers. For an idiolect, that meant FEAR HERO. It stands for Family, Ethic group, Age, Religion, Hobbies, Environment, Region (?), Occupation. Hey---It's been over 20 years. But you get my meaning, right? If you're a writer at a convention, you've probably notice we all start speaking using larger, more descriptive words.

So I thought, 'There's got to be an easier way to teach people the difference between commonly misspelled two, too, and to. And there versus their. LOTS of people have misunderstandings of these words. It's not at all uncommon.

Today, I thought I'd start with the difference between 'your' and 'you're'. One is a contraction and one demonstrates possession.

Your is the one that demonstrates possession. The simplest way I can think of to understand this one, is that its spelled with Our in the middle. If it isn't mine, or ours, it must be yours.

You're is a contraction for you are. As in "You are in my spot." (I love Sheldon Cooper) It becomes "You're in my spot."

A quick thing to think about when you're writing--Whenever in doubt, interchange them. Does it make sense?

If you've written "Your in big trouble." and you read it again as, 'Our in big trouble." and again as "You are in big trouble." which one is correct? Simple, right?

I hope you found this helpful. I'll be writing other blogs later about the 'theres' and the 'twos' and I hope they're helpful as well <3

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Why the Walking Dead?

The dreaded season hiatus...I wonder, not for the first time, why a television show needs a seven month vacation. Don't they know we're going to suffer withdrawal? Don't tell me the writers need a break. WRITERS DON'T TAKE BREAKS!! They type until they die. Nuff said.

Contrary to popular belief, not everyone is into The Walking Dead. Those poor souls have yet to fall prey to the juggernaut television series du jour. Walking Dead fans are every bit as rabid and hungry as the zombies portrayed in the show. Or Slayer fans.

Those of you who are not, wonder why. In fact, one of my writer friends chastised me, saying "Nothing happens! Why on Earth would you waste your time with this crap?"

Where shall we look first? A fans perspective? Or a writers? Or hey, how about an artist's point of view?

Let's start with the artistry. The gore in WD is pretty intense. More than once, my stomach has rolled with the crimson splatters, chunky chewing scenes and the brutality required to put the undead down. But it's impressive. Even as I'm so thoroughly grossed out, I can't help thinking about the creativity and effort that went into these effects. This is zombie makeup technique at its finest.

And the fan base...I know zombie freaks all over my city alone who drool at the sight of all the work this series sends out every Sunday. They would give their red eye contacts to work on the set.

But ordinary people are addicted to it, and not just for the yucky technique. These are excellent stories about human survival in a post apocalyptic world devoid of electricity, grocery stores and humanity.You can't help but get invested in the characters. Some you hate, some you love.

Case in point: Daryl Dixon. He was a dirty red-necked loser at the start, now he's a trusted member of their council.

Is Daryl that good-looking? Or is he hot because he's such a bad-boy-with a sensitive side? 
Does Carol look like a killer to you?

This is how the Governor cleans up his little messes.
Or consider Carol.  Once an abused wife and mother, now a self-appointed 'cleanser', who teaches children how to kill.

Or what about the GOVERNOR?? Comes across as a benevolent leader---crazier than a Canadian who's run out of beer while watching the hockey game. And no one is safe. Stephen King said "Kill your darlings." and these writers have taken that quote to heart.  Nothing happens? Are you kidding? Half the time fans are sitting on the edge of their couches, wondering who's going to die next. The best thing about this show is it's unpredictability.

Which brings me to why this show is so great from a writer's standpoint. Character Development. I haven't seen a TV show with this much of it since Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (Which I was also addicted to.) I would give a kidney to write character development like the team behind Walking Dead. Daryl and Carol aren't the only ones...

What about Carl? The young man who's been growing up too hard and too fast and is getting addicted to killing zombies and taking too many chances.

Or Bob? The recovering alcoholic that's winning Sasha's heart with his 'glad to be alive' attitude.

Or ...LIZZIE---The little girl who believes zombies are people too and she's willing to kill the living to prove her point.

And that's why we're still watching. That's why it's going to be such a long wait til October when it comes back again.

But if they kill off Daryl Dixon we'll all riot.