Saturday, December 27, 2008

TV quotes over the holidays

As I (sometimes perhaps annoyingly) point out when people ask if I saw such- and- such show, I have not owned a television since 1988. But my family has several, and when I visit a TV is usually on somewhere. While walking from one room to the other I heard a character say "I've gotta write a book!" To which another responded, "You should read one first."

It was dry and funny enough to look up, and it turns out to be a somewhat well-known quote from Navy NCIS, a series that has apparently been on the air forever but I had no idea. Jethro Gibbs exchanges the lines with Tony DiNozzo after DiNozzo is let into an exclusive nightclub simply because he is recognized as a famous author.

Okay, so that's the literary part. I watched a few episodes over several days and concluded that NCIS writers have probably never been to Washington, DC, not even on school field trips. They get fact after fact wrong . . . it may feel like DC to outsiders, but to this insider the regional references feel clunky and off. The funniest blooper to me was the ambitious Georgetown University student who had a revealing MySpace page.

Um. Not likely. On so many levels I don't even know where to start.

But the book quote was still funny.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Draws versus drawers

I fully admit to being a "Best of Craigslist" addict. Most of you know what I mean, but for those who don't, it's a section of Craigslist devoted to the posts that readers voted on as being the funniest. Some of them are priceless.

Today I saw one that wasn't really one of the all-time best, but it nonetheless made an amusing point about books and publishing. You can read the whole thing here. The author rants about people who post on Craigslist and write "draw" instead of "drawer," and what this means for the literacy of society as a whole:

Literature: Madame Bovary kept things in drawers. Jo March used drawers. Franny and Zooey used drawers. Portnoy used drawers. Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and the Three Investigators all solved mysteries by striking an old desk, thereby unlatching a "secret drawer." Drawers aren't only in old literature; they are in recent, highly regarded and prize winning literature: staggering geniuses use drawers. People for whom things are illuminated use drawers. Even in current best-sellers there are drawers. According to a millisecond-long search, on page 31 of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle (#62 in Oprah's Bookclub), "...[at] odd moments she might discover Trudy rearranging the chest of drawers..." And in Extreme Measures - a Thriller (2008), on page 271, someone opens a drawer to take out a pack of Marlboros. There are many, many, maaaaany others. It's more likely than not that any work of fiction will refer to a drawer at some point within it's pages.

Even funnier is that this outraged poster mis-used the apostrophe in its (writing it's, a possessive). And yes, that is one of my pet peeves (although I once taught a class on the apostrophe for a group of sixth graders from the DC public schools, and I accidentally got its/it's backward at first... it was a laugh and also a humbling moment...).

Ah well, outrage is funny. Ironic distance outrage is even funnier.