Summing up a life – Part 3

This satiric, ancient Greek epitaph just in:

I, the actor, Philistion
Soothed men’s pain with comedy and laughter,
A man of parts, I often died–
But never quite like this.

– Translated by Michael Wolfe, author of the forthcoming book The Last Word: Selected Greek Epitaphs; epitaph printed in “The Key Reporter” (Fall 2011)–a publication of American liberal arts honor society Phi Beta Kappa

Attender vs. Attendee: a rebuttal

My grammatical faith in Americans in restored! This just in from Jeff Rakes, Pastor of Worship and Administration of Grace Church in Dover, DE:

we did research this at one time – here are a couple of things I’ve run across. you may have seen the same ones

the best distinction I found was

Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary:
(especially BrE) (AmE usually attendee) noun a person who goes to a place or an event, often on a regular basis: She’s a regular attender at evening classes. PowerExif – the best choice to edit EXIF data in imagesLongman Dictionary of Contemporary English

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English:
at·tend·er /əˈtendə US -ər/ n [C]
someone who regularly goes to an event such as a meeting or a class
 Daniel was a regular attender at the Baptist Church.

(only found in Longman, no result in OALD)
at·ten·dee /əˌtenˈdiː, ˌæten-/ n [C]
someone who is at an event such as a meeting or a course

See also an interesting tidbit on English vs. British usage

We chose attendee because it can include people who attend occasionally and not necessarily regularly
Not that most people have thought about whether there’s a difference, but we were trying to be consistent, at least when we can remember 🙂

Blimey! I guess Briticisms don’t rule after all. That’ll show me for being so cheeky about the church website. Thanks, Jeff, for the well-reasoned and spot on response. If my rants weren’t permanently singed on the landscape of the Internet, you bet they’d be in the dustbin right now.

Food for Thought: My 2010 Summer Reading List

If 2009 was my Harry Potter summer, then I declare 2010 to be the summer of food—consumed not by my mouth (oh, I’m sure there’ll be plenty of that), but by my brain, in the form of my (drum roll, please) summer reading list.

This weekend, reading Waiter Rantwaiter/writer Steve Dublanica’s tell-it-like-it-is memoir of his experiences as a 38-year-old waiter—I was finally inspired with a summer reading theme: I’ll read all things food. Maybe not cookbooks or menus or blah blah blah exposes about how corn products are taking the American diet and economy to heck in a grocery basket (been there, read that). No, what I’m planning to read are the books that will jolt me vicariously out of my Applebee’s existence, where dinner out at Chick-fil-A is a highlight, and vault me into the fine dining stratosphere of truffle oil and water waiters…if only in my mind.

I’m making note of the titles that appear under the names of those other-worldly TV food competition judges, and I’ll dedicate my summer relaxing time to actually reading them. That’ll plow me through such selections as The Man Who Ate Everything, written by the culinarily gifted, but supremely socially uncomfortable Jeffrey Steingarten, sometime judge on Food Network’s Iron Chef America. His is just one book in what I like to call The Man Who genre, which includes the actual titles The Man Who Was Thursday, The Man Who Mistoook His Wife for a Hat, and the not so well known, but soon to be published The Man Who Slathered His Wife in Mayo Because He Thought she was a Tomato Sandwich.

Another Man Who book on my list is The Man Who Ate the World: In Search of the Perfect Dinner, by critic and Top Chef: Masters judge Jay Rayner. I don’t know Mr. Rayner personally, and I have not yet read his book, but I suspect that, by the looks of him, he could follow up this book with a second, entitled, The Man Who Wore His Hair Such That the Stray Strand in His Soup Was Probably His Own.

Also on my reading list is rock ‘n roll Jersey-ite turned New Yorker/world traveler Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, which I will read while wearing the Ramones t-shirt that I do not yet own but saw on a guy down the shore on Sunday night. Speaking of the shore, let me tell you, nothing’s more evocative of fine dining than the guy on the porch of the bungalow next door—the Bourdain sound-alike—who roasts hot dogs (6 feet away from the pillow where I’m resting my head) while singing the old “Hello Mudda, hello Fadda…” song.

Also on the list are be-hatted restaurant critic Gael Greene’s book, Insatiable and critic Frank Bruni’s, Born Round. Oh, and Julie Powell’s Julie and Julia belongs on the list as well, probably along with Julia Child’s My Life in France. I’m not a huge Julia Child fan (nor am I NOT a fan), but either way, her memoir should prove to be a nice side dish in an otherwise yummy summer.

Readers, I don’t know if you care to come along for the journey, but if you wish to read along with me, please let me know—we can get together to share a meal to discuss what we’ve read! Unless, of course, you are overseas, in which case you could buy me a meal from your favorite restaurant, pack it in dry ice, and send it to me along with a video of yourself describing your reflections onthe book, which I would watch while eating.

It should make for an interesting summer.

Spelling strategies that just don’t werk

All our snow days here in Delaware have conspired to provide not quite enough data points for grades so far this marking period. One bugaboo for Jake was a not up to par spelling test, which, with not much else to factor into the average, has brought his progress report to an all-time low. Not that I’m disappointed or worried (it’s not that low); it’s enough of an encouragement to me that Jake was disappointed (and worried), which tells me that he still has a conscience and everything’s going to be ok.

The funny thing is that in his effort to study up for the next spelling test, he wrote a set of flash cards based on this week’s spelling words as jotted down in his notebook. Unfortunately, he misspelled and then transcribed 4 out of 10 of them. They’re words like ‘maneuver’ (spelled ‘maneneuver’ by Jake) and ‘radio’ (spelled ‘raido’ by Jake). And then when he did the assignment of writing each word in alphabetical order, Jake wrote ‘orbitor’ instead of ‘orbiter’ (and told me that the ‘o’ was really an ‘e’ just without a very big tail).

Unfortunately, like forging a twenty dollar bill, your spelling test results are only as good as the model that you start with. Let’s hope that Jake’s middling performance in spelling doesn’t lead him into that kind of living.

Wierd dining out experience

A strange mini-barn/shed behind the market at Spence's

Today at Spence’s Bazaar (bizarre?)–an Amish-ish market right here in Dover–I seriously saw two guys eat an entire rotisserie chicken with nothing but 2 plastic forks and their fingers. No drinks. No plates. No plastic container. They just bought that chicken, sat it on the table, tore open the foil wrapper, and ate it all up. Then they rewrapped the bones in the foil and tossed it all out.

Oh, and it was 8:45 in the morning. Hot, roasted chicken for breakfast–did I mention that??!

As for me, I am still traumatized. I’m thinking, what will be next? Bunless burgers shot directly into our mouths from a hydraulic tube at the drive thru? People publicly slurping soup from their cupped hands? Working men in their orange bibs drinking directly from coffee kegs?

I don’t know. I guess I’ll get over it. But maybe I should ask you–what is the wierdest public eating spectacle you’ve ever seen? And was it really so wrong?

Board silly

As I was watching the Vancouver Olympics snowboard half-pipe competition (and trying to shake the wincing terror I experienced every time one of those guys had a near miss with the hard corner), I couldn’t help but think, “If a sport is this young, then how old could the judges possibly be?”

For all I know, that judges’ box is populated with an experienced international panel of former boarder boomers, age 45 and up, but I’m picturing more a panel of ADHD 24-year-olds who are texting in their scores. So, in the interest of full disclosure, I give you the top 10 comments heard in my imaginary snowboard half-pipe judges’ box:

10. “Dude, where’s my Red Bull?”

9. “Pass the Doritos, man.”

8. “Look, these chairs spin!”

7. “I can’t hear you over my iPod!!!!!”

6. “Want another blow pop?”

5. “He didn’t just do a Squirrel Psycho, dork! That was a Swiss Cheese Air!”

4. “Can I bum $100 for the gas to get home?”

3. “You think that’s good? Well, my high score on Zelda Four Swords totally rocks!”

2. “I used to be Shaun White’s babysitter.”

1. “Nah, I gave up my board, and I’m dedicating all my free time to curling. Curling is freakin’ awesome.”

Gee whiz, a guest post!

In the style of the Berenstain Bears’ B Book, I present this, from my 9-year-old daughter, Hayley:

The G Book

Grand Gary.
Grand Gary gets Great Galinda.
Grand Gary and Great Galinda gather their goods.
Grand Gary and Great Galinda go on a glorious journey.
Grand Gary gets out of gas.
Grand Gary and Great Galinda go to Georgia.
Grand Gary and Great Galinda go to a golfing green.
Grand Gary and Great Galinda go get grub.


Merry Kitschmas

When I return from a trip, there are many, sometimes competing, thoughts running through the undoubtedly paisley shaped region of my brain that is dedicated to decorating and landscaping. Like my sometimes outlandish nightly dreams which might star the (unlikely) likes of Raymond Burr hours after my viewing of Rear Window, these thoughts on design are influenced by what I have seen over the course of my day and my travels. I return from Colonial Williamsburg thinking, “I need more candles! Yes, more candles…and wing chairs!” I return from Rehoboth Beach thinking, “Shells! I’ll incorporate shells!” I return from Baltimore at Christmastime thinking, “A hubcap Christmas tree! I’ve got to get me one of those!!”

Well, maybe not the hubcap tree so much, but I am liking bicycle wheel snowmen a lot. They, like the hubcap tree, are a fixture at the kitsch extravaganza that is 34th Street in Baltimore. If you’re not familiar with the area, just take Falls Road south, make a left on 36th, pass the three story pink flamingo strapped to the fire escapes on the left, make a right on Keswick, park in front of the house with the backlit screen on the porch roof showing the Pink Panther’s Pink Christmas show on a Blue Ray loop, make a left, and you’re there. 34th Street is one solid block of skinny little rowhouses decked out from curb to rooftop with lights, candy canes, inflatables, motionette Santas, makeshift trees with beer cans for ornaments, train sets, menorahs, music, and more.

And the good news is that you too can have a crazy Christmas house, because there are two houses for sale on the block! 729 W. 34th is on the market for $245K and 719 is listed for a bargain $234K. Built at the turn of the century (the 20th century), they both give you the chance to trick out your house the way you always wanted, with a guarantee that no humbug neighbor is going to call the cops.

I’m not really in the market, but I am kind of hooked on the snowmen. I’m really digging these ones in this photo link, and I want ’em. I wonder if it would be too forward of me to just mail a postcard to 708 W. 34th and ask (beg) the residents to help hook me up. Stalkerific, I know, but you have to start somewhere. Plus, I figure that if you have 45,000 people parading past your door every year, you’re not so much into privacy, right?

Guest posting: a funny from my Dad

I spent much of the day yesterday with my nose in a medical dictionary, so when I received this from my Dad, it made me laugh out loud. Dad has graciously given me permission to post it (although I didn’t take out the brand name like he asked–sorry, Dad), and, yes, it is original. Enjoy!

Label: SWAN 70% Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol

Will produce serious gastric disturbances if taken internally.

Doctor: “What is wrong with you?”
Patient: “Something has produced serious gastric disturbances.”
Doctor: “Have you been using SWAN 70% Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol internally?!”

Announcing my Drama Rehab Journal

A couple of days ago I realized that my love/hate relationship with drama, stress, worry, and anxiety has to end (see my “Drama Junkie” post from 11/19). Perfect timing, as the holiday season is nearly upon us. I’m going 45 days without drama–which should get me through to the new year. Every day I’ll be logging my near occasions of drama, and I hope there will be no direct hits to report. You can read my daily drama report by clicking on “Drama Rehab Journal” in the column to your left.

Readers’ encouragement, cheerleading, and words of wisdom are more than welcome. If I know myself, I’m going to need it.

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