She said it

I was thinking today about lame writing advice, and the most typical is, "A writer writes." No, really? I didn't know that. People will usually say that as a smug response to, "I want to be a writer," or, "How can I become a writer?" They usually hand out a big pronouncement such as, "Well, you know, a writer writes," or, "First of all, remember that a writer writes." Obviously.

I read the same statement at Jennifer Weiner's site, where she said, "Here's a line that bears repeating: a writer writes." Luckily, she had a lot more to say and it wasn't the usual, "Be disciplined. Read a lot. Write a lot. Believe in yourself." Her advice is more specific than that.

She also said what I've been thinking for a while: it's not enough to just write and write and then consider yourself a writer just because you're writing. I think that getting published or getting paid to write is confirmation that someone is a writer. She stated it plainly:

If a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears, has it really fallen? If a writer writes poems and short stories and novels, but nobody ever reads them, is she really a writer? Nope. If you want to be a writer, you've got to bear the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune (not to mention evil reader reviews on amazon.com). You've got to put your stuff out there for the world to see, and fall in love with, or revile. In short, you've got to get published.

Actually, I've never read any of her books, and I'm not really interested in them, even though her writing style seems really good. Obviously I'm in the minority, since she's a bestselling author. She also seems to work really hard and cares about her readers, which is great. I'm sure I'm not the only person who'd love to achieve what she has, whether in writing or something else. She's found an enthusiastic audience for her work and she's been rewarded well for it. And, most importantly, she loves what she does and can make a living from it.


I was there

Another perk of having your own business is being able to go to events during the day, such as the White Sox Parade and Rally. I'm one of the unpictured dots off the right edge of the picture. This shot is looking north on LaSalle street, and I was standing on Wacker (the east-west street in front of the Chicago river), between LaSalle and Clark, which is east. So, my tiny image didn't make it in the picture, or any other one. However, as the team was getting on their buses to go home, a cameraman on a bus pointed his [video?] camera at me and some other people who were lucky enough to get a spot on an elevated city concrete planter, so maybe I'll turn up somewhere.

Actually, I couldn't make it to the parade because I had to teach in the morning in the suburbs (ironically, since I'm more often downtown), so I high-tailed it back downtown and made it to the rally in time to be squashed in by thousands of polite and happy Sox fans. If anything has shown me that Chicagoans can be nice, it was that rally. I was surprised that people behaved decently and no one bothered me.

You may think I'm a big Sox fan, but I'm not (a big fan, that is). I'm not even really a sports fan. But there's something about seeing the home team win that offers an opportunity to live vicariously through others' accomplishments, especially when L.I.F. (Life Isn't Fair), and we have to deal with our own defeats.


When working at home is good

I've said before that I'm not all that excited about working at home. But at least I don't have to deal with office politics.

Go to this site: there are a lot of awful, complicated office nightmares, for which the site gives advice. I've dealt with challenging work environments, but never that bad.



Light reading

I'm one of those people who reads a few books at the same time, in addition to online articles and sites. I've been working my way through Principles of Japanese Discourse, which covers Japanese rhetoric and structure.

It teaches you how to break down Japanese texts (i.e., they're not into topic sentences like we are and don't write in a linear style) so that you can understand what the heck they're saying. You may be able to understand individual words, but when they're strung together it can be confusing, especially when an essay takes a surprise turn, such as when someone is writing about doing the laundry and switches to an observation of the human condition, then goes back to describing the way suds swirl around the tank.

I highly recommend it, if you're in the mood for a heady book that undergrads and grad students would use as a part of their Japanese academic studies. It's not the kind of book that you can read through in one sitting, unlike some of the grammar-light books that are out there.

Actually, whenever I read a section of the book, I'm ready to dissect a university library or wander around a campus to instigate complex conversations.


Fly cutely!

Mad Minerva (an excellent blog) had a link to the cutest, or even the *only* cute plane in the galaxy: the Hello Kitty Jet. It flies between Taiwan in Japan, which is why the site is in multi-stroked Chinese and you can hear a high-pitched woman saying something cute, I'm sure.

But I think the Japanese Hello Kitty Jet site is even cuter--their cuteness standards are higher, after all, and they're probably the target customers for this very cute airline. Even the site's functions are cute--you can turn off the music by tapping the pink bow.

It's almost inspiring enough to change the color scheme of this blog back to pink (an experiment which lasted a few hours).


Nanowrimo is coming

Nanowrimo is happening again this year, and I might do it. I participated in 2002 and 2004 and managed to cross the finish line both times.

What's enjoyable about it is that there's no room for editing--you just write and write and write until you reach 50,000 words.

I'm sure published novelists or MFA candidates cringe at the thought of writing thousands of words in a month, but it's the time to not take yourself seriously. There's no need to worry if what you're writing is worthy enough for the PIC (Publishing Industrial Complex) or interesting enough for readers. You can write whatever you want as fast as you want to.

Last year I had a feeling of accomplishment when I finished that frivolous piece, which wasn't the same as finishing a draft or rewrite of a seriously-pursued novel that no one cares about. Usually, when things work out creatively it's satisfying, but this is both a quantitative and semi-qualitative pursuit where the only goal is to finish. And you're not alone, either.


Sox and Shangri-la

Well, the Chicago White Sox played a good game and won, and this time, I didn't see the game alone--I went to a friend's house and watched it on a big-screen tv.

And here are a couple of pictures of Shangri-la to celebrate the Sox victory--someone from China sent me the pics.


Brent's accent

I was watching Threshold, which doesn't seem like the best series, because it's just about people being taken over by aliens, and only a couple of characters seem to have an interesting chemistry: Arthur, who's a linguist (!) and seems to be an intelligent character, and Lucas.

As I was half-watching the show (since it lost my interest), I listened to Brent Spiner's accent, and wondered if he's talking like that for the character he plays or because he's from Houston, Texas. I wonder what his true accent is. I've heard him in an interview before, but I forgot what he sounded like. On the show, he has a very slight twang.

Whenever I see actors on TV or in movies, I really pity aspiring actors who haven't made it. I'm so glad I don't want to be an actor--writing is enough of a pipe dream, and there are other disappointments I've had that hardly seem to be as devastating as the pursuit of acting.

An article about Spiner says that "Like many other aspiring thespians, Spiner had dues to pay in the form of taking a job as a cab driver before launching his career off-Broadway."

But despite that hardship, he developed a nice career, but ironically "Spiner claims no particular love for science fiction and was not a big fan of the original Star Trek. He says he mainly took the job because he didn't think the new series would last and because he needed to pay a few bills...the bulk of his fame comes from being Data..."

On Startrek: TNG he doesn't have a Texas accent, and really has no discernable accent at all--it's quite flat, as if he's from Nebraska.



I was invited to a wake and a funeral earlier this week. I couldn't go to the wake, but I made it to the funeral, and couldn't help but wonder what "wake" means. It's hard to find decent information about it online, and I suspect there's a lot of misinformation out there, since it's sort of a weird word to use for a corpse lying in an open casket for mourners to view.

I found an article about false etymology on the Internet, which mentions this false explanation of "wake":

"Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey," proclaims the Internet message. "The combination would sometimes knock people out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a 'wake.'

The author, Richard Lederer, says that the correct meaning is this: "'Wake descends from the Middle English 'wakien,' 'to be awake,' and is cognate with the Latin 'vigil.' 'Wake' simply means, traditionally at least, that someone stays awake all night at the side of the casket on the night before the funeral."

A dictionary says:

an annual English parish festival formerly held in commemoration of the church's patron saint...the festivities originally connected with the wake of an English parish church...a watch held over the body of a dead person prior to burial and sometimes accompanied by festivity

I don't know if the following explanation is true, but supposedly it's part of a 19th century Scottish custom:

For several days the body was "Waked" - Members of the family, numbering 2 to 10 people, usually the young and unmarried, would watch over the body around-the-clock., to keep the spirit from falling to the Devil. Curtains or blinds were drawn until after the funeral.

Family and friends of the deceased would come and pay their last respects. Readings were made from the Bible, along with the singing of hymns, and conversing in low hushed tones. Neighbors would help by bringing extra chairs for the watchers or extra peat to help heat the house throughout the "Dead Days."

I guess if I were a historian or had access to some academic types who specialize in British history or etymology, I'd ask them, but this is the best I can do. I wonder what the real story is, if there is one.


Not just for kids

I've been working on a draft of a novel and am not exactly the most psyched person about how the story has turned out. I don't want it to be a blabber piece, where the character just talks and whines and tells us about every detail of their frustrated life, as if it's a diary entry. I think Bridget Jones has set the tone for a lot of books, and I don't want to write one of those, even though some of them have become very popular and the authors are enjoying generous advances and rewards for their hard labor.

So I did a search on "how to write a story" and came up with thousands of options. Usually fiction writing advice is vague or too complicated to be practical. It's as if the writer is lonely and wants us to join them in their garbled thinking because no one else is there.

But the advice at this site is really helpful. The site is for kids, but that's great for people like me who want clear answers instead of puffed-up words written by a self-smitten writer who's out to impress. It seems that the non-fiction world, especially business writing, has plenty of people who try their best to communicate clearly in a straightforward way, but in the fiction world, being like that is uncool or unattainable.

Here's a sampling of some of that kids site's storytelling advice:

"To keep the story interesting, the more times your hero tries and fails, the better."

This is what they say about conflict and the central problem that your character has. You have to ask:

"What is your main character's problem?
Is the problem big enough so that it will take a whole story to solve it?
Do other characters help create the problem?
Does the setting influence the problem?
What steps does your hero take to try and fail to solve the problem?"

About resolution:

"It's best if the story's hero solves the problem on his or her own...It's great if one of the hero's faults turns out to be a strength that leads to the resolution of the story."

Questions to ask about the resolution:

"How does your main character finally solve the problem?
If possible, can they solve it using their own strength or wits?"

And a general question:

"Think about a story you like.  What makes it good?  Can you identify the main character, the setting, the problem and the resolution?"

So I went through all the questions and points, and realized that I have a lot of tweaking to do. Even though I realized the lameness of what I wrote, it didn't bum me out because I have found a way to effectively evaluate what I've written instead of being more confused.


Toby's rich

Toby Young, who The Sunday Times says is "famously short and bald," often is self-deprecating in his articles and in his entertaining book, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People. He openly discusses his failures and feelings of inadequacy, which makes the rest of us feel like we're not alone.

So you'd think he's struggling to get by, even though he went to prestigious schools and his dad was a lord, which is odd because his dad claimed to be working for justice and for the common man, against the oppressive class system. It often amazes me that British people who are anti-snob end up becoming lords, so they end up participating in the system they supposedly despise. Weird and borderline hypocritical.

Anyway, Toby isn't doing as bad as he thinks or leads us to believe. The Times said: "The author Toby Young has clinched an £800,000 deal to turn his bestselling memoir into a Hollywood film that producers hope will be a male version of the Bridget Jones blockbuster...Harvey Weinstein, head of Miramax films, is understood to be investing £50m in the film based on How to Lose Friends and Alienate People."

And Toby managed to add a typical comment: “Anyone who hasn’t met me and then sees the film will be very disappointed when they find out what I look like."

I don't think I'd want to see the film. The book is such a good read (except for the vulgar and "typical" guy bits). I wonder if all that money makes him feel more like a descendent of a lord instead of a struggling commoner in London.



Woo hoo! The Chicago White Sox just won! It was a great game--since the first inning, I had a feeling they would win! If only I had the moolah to go to the World Series.

Da Mayor of Da Windy City is a huge Sox fan since he's from Bridgeport, which is right near Cellular Field, so let's hope he puts off the corruption for a while and gives us all a break!


Chipotle is dangerous

I just went to Chipotle to get some guacamole and chips for my husband. Every time I pass one of those places, I wonder how fattening it is since Mexican food isn't known for being the most healthy food on the planet. I've never eaten any food from there because I don't know what I would be consuming. However, just in case I were to eat some in the future, I wanted to get some nutritional information from their site.

Their site is confusing and annoying. There's a small, "breathing" graphic that you're supposed to click, and if you don't like complicated, flashy graphics or can't process them, it would take too long to figure out where to get any nutritional information. They're so busy entertaining you that you may not even be able to get past the vague menu or cutsy presentation where some information is supposed to be buried.

So I continued my search, and found a Chipotle nutrition calculator that a smart college student created. He says:

The idea for the Chipotle Calculator came when Matt e-mailed Chipotle for the nutritional information on their burritos. They replied with a PDF sheet listing the nutritional information for the individual ingredients, but it was annoying to calculate what your burrito has manually.

Being lazy, in an odd reverse-lazy kind of way, Matt decided to write up the Chipotle Calculator to make it easy to find out how healthy his burrito was. He posted a link to the calculator on a few forums accross the net, and shared it with his friends. Before long the calculator page was getting 500+ Chipotle hungry visitors every day. Because of the success of the page Matt decided to go all out, getting the domain ChipotleFan.com and re-doing the site.

It's great how people start little projects online that grow into something big and useful, which makes the doing of it and the subsequent success even more gratifying.

What I learned from the calculator is that Chipotle is very caloric, fatty food that I should avoid, unless I want to limit my consumption to one bite. Which is amazing, considering the founder of that company looks fit and healthy. I wonder if he eats his own food anymore. After all, 90% of it is owned by McDonald's.


what O' means

I found out in the book Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation that the "O in Irish names is an anglicisation of 'ua', meaning grandson."

So in the name O'Leary, for instance, the "O" isn't a contraction of "of", as if someone is "of" the Leary family. I'm sure a lot of people have assumed that for years.

By the way, even if you've never heard the author, Lynne Truss, speak, you can still tell that she's British due to her spelling of "anglicization".

I'll have more to say about the book, but the Sox game is on and a videotaped Startrek episode is queued up.


Welcome Bernie

I got Bernard Goldberg's latest book, 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America, which sort of reads like a blog, since the writing style is conversational and the book is a series of entries that don't have to be read in order. You can easily put it aside for a while and return to it without feeling any disruption because it's not an ongoing narrative that has to be understood in a certain kind of flow.

I checked out his site and saw this greeting, which he wrote in March 2005: "Hello friends - and welcome to my brand new website which is being launched on the very day that my old colleague Dan Rather is stepping down as anchor of the CBS Evening News...I'm entering a brave new world of the Internet."

He's been in the media for like 30 years and only entered the "brave new world of the Internet" this year? What's so "new" about it that he couldn't join it earlier?

His bio says that he "is widely seen as one of the most original writers and thinkers in broadcast journalism. He has covered stories all over the world for CBS News and won six Emmy awards for his work at that network," but he never made his way to the Internet?

It just goes to show that sometimes people in the print and broadcast media work backwards, because they've already made it--they have been able to participate in high-level communication for a while, unlike tons of other folks who aspire to participate in that scene, who have to find any vehicle they can to get their name and ideas out there. So the Internet is a natural choice, since an unknown can't just walk up to an editor's or producer's desk and say, "I'm talented--hire me."

So welcome, Bernie, and any other successful person for whom this is the Year of the Internet.



I was at Toby Young's site and saw this sentence in one of his reviews: "As a piece of drama, Playing With Fire is a little cack-handed."

Toby's British, so I figured it's a common phrase over there. I went to Michael Quinion's site, where he explained that the phrase is "certainly British. It’s only obscure, though, if you’re from somewhere else, since it’s a well-known British informal term for somebody who is inept or clumsy. By extension...it means somebody left-handed, who does everything 'backwards' and so looks clumsy or awkward. It first appeared in the middle of the nineteenth century."

Quinion, who "writes about international English from a British viewpoint" is one of those lucky people who's found something really enjoyable to do with his life, as his bio shows.


Japanese newspaper words

A while ago, I found a great ESL site with all kinds of English help for non-native speakers, and within it are lists of Japanese words that are frequently used in newspapers. The words are in kanji, hiragana, and katakana.

Below are some hiragana words, which are just a fraction of what's available there:

すっかり (sukkari) all; completely; thoroughly
ふさわしい (fusawashii) appropriate
あるいは (aruiwa) or; possibly
いわゆる (iwayuru) the so-called; so to speak
あらゆる (arayuru) all; every
とにかく (tonikaku) anyhow; at any rate; anyway; somehow or other; generally speaking; in any case
けたたましい (ketatamashii) piercing; shrill; noisy; loud; clamorous; wild
かっと (katto) flare up; flying into a rage
あくまで (akumade) to the end; to the last; stubbornly; persistently
もっぱら (moppara) wholly; solely; entirely
おおむね (omune) in general; mostly; roughly
しばしば (shibashiba) often; again and again; frequently
なるべく (narubeku) as much as possible
ぱっと (patto) suddenly; in a flash; rapidly; nimbly; alertly
ひたすら (hitasura) nothing but; earnestly; intently
じっくり (jikkuri) deliberately; carefully
たびたび (tabitabi) often; repeatedly; frequently
おもちゃ (omocha) toy
わざわざ (wazawaza) expressly; specially; doing something especially rather than incidentally
いきなり (ikinari) abruptly; suddenly; all of a sudden; without warning
ぎりぎり (girigiri) at the last moment; just barely
やられる (yarareru) to suffer damage; to be deceived
なぞる (nazoru) to trace (drawing); to follow
そもそも (somosomo) in the first place; to begin with
ぶつかる (butsukaru) to strike; to collide with
ゆったり (yuttari) (1) comfortable; easy; calm; (2) loose; spacious
ともかく (tomokaku) anyhow; anyway; somehow or other; generally speaking; in any case
いかなる (ikanaru) any kind of (with neg. verb)
いかにも (ikanimo) indeed; really; phrase meaning agreement
あらかじめ (arakajime) beforehand; in advance; previously
いよいよ (iyoiyo) more and more; all the more; increasingly; at last; beyond doubt


Picard's neck

I may have mentioned it before, but just in case: I've taken it upon myself to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation because during all those seasons it was on the air, I was not watching television at the time, I was in Asia, and I wasn't into sci-fi shows. I'd heard my friend rave about the show so much, I just had to see it, so now I'm taping it every day to see what I've been missing.

People think Captain Picard is the best, and I have to agree. He's smart, strong, diplomatic, talented, curious, skillful, interesting, productive, creative, intellectual, and has other qualities I can't think of right now.

But has anyone noticed his neck? I haven't been able to find this topic online, and since I'm not a "trekkie" or obsessed Star Trek fan, I don't participate in nor care to read any message boards, so perhaps I'm not the first to discuss it.

What I've noticed is that in the first few episodes of the first season, his neck is pronounced; you can see the grooves and adam's apple clearly, and even some creases. But as the series progresses and thereafter, you can't see the details of his neck as much.

Maybe the creators of the show saw the tape and thought, "His neck isn't smooth. We need to do something about that."

So what did they do? Did they put more makeup on Patrick Stewart's neck, or change the lighting? With each show, I've tried to figure it out, but I can't. I compare his uniform to the others, but it looks the same.

These are important questions. Sure, people are suffering in natural disasters and there are wars and rumors of wars, but here in the semi-civilized world, the mystery of Picard's neck should be solved. I'm sure the answer is somewhere out there, and if I ever get to meet any of the Star Trek insiders, I'll ask them.


Mixed congee

When I was traveling around Asia, I often ate Mixed Congee, though I never ate it in Japan (it may not even exist there).

The Mixed Congee I just ate (created in Taiwan by Taisun) is made of water, glutinous rice, oats, green lentils, peas, peanuts, cereals (whatever that means), red beans, longans (don't know what those are), and sugar. It's hardly sweet, but it's sweet enough to make you feel like you're not eating anything too boringly nutritious. But it's healthy enough to turn a lot of Americans off.

In fact, I was the only non-Chinese person at the Chinese store in Chinatown, so a lot of people either looked at me or moved away. I've gone to other Asian stores--Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese--and even though I was the only non-Asian in those places, they didn't look at me amazed, like "Is she in the right place? Oh my gosh--maybe she's not! Should we tell her? No, let's just look at her."

So now when I tell non-Asians my favorite snack is Mixed Congee, I can offer them a can for them to try. If they dare.


Name dropping

I'm going to be vague about what I'm going to say because I don't want to indict any particular person, but point out an attitude that is either geographical or contemporary.

Recently, I heard someone give a talk and couldn't help but notice that they used every opportunity to drop names of successful and famous people they've met, know, or are going to know. Chicago isn't a wannabe type of place; it's down-to-earth to the point where only a small segment of the female populace cares about wearing the latest fashions or starving themselves to near-death. The person who was talking lives in LA, though I think they're not a native (as is the case with a lot of people out there).

Here's an example of what they said, with the specifics removed: "My relative was speaking at a family event, and well, my relative is a famous --- and, well, okay, I'll tell you: my relative is so-and-so."

Nobody cared about who the relative was enough to ask, but the speaker mentioned it anyway. And it just continued--at every turn, they mentioned projects they were working on, and inserted references to famous people they worked with or whose agents they "had" to contact, and even mentioned conversations they'd had with the insanely wealthy. As in, "I was talking with ---, who's the founder of ---" and they paused to see what our reaction was.

The first famous reference (the relative) seemed to impress some people, but after that, the audience just seemed to want to hear the speaker's journey, not their rich and famous laundry list.

Or maybe that's my perception, because that's how I felt. Still, I may be right because the audience didn't seem to audibly react to each reference with a gasp of, "Oh wow! We're simple-minded midwesterners, and you're a big-shot from LA who knows Everyone Who Matters! Please, let us touch you!"

After all those names were dropped, I managed to crawl out from under them to get enough air and wonder if the speaker is just a perpetually unsatisfied wannabe. They are successful--no doubt about that, but I would guess that they don't think they're successful enough, which is why they use The Names to Matter.

I know people in LA who don't drop names even though they've met famous and wealthy people, but is that name-dropping game an LA thing, or is it a product of our celebrity-obsessed culture?



Here's something you may not know about: 腹帯 (haraobi), which is described in odd English below:

From olden times in Japan, pregnant woman put a white cloth called "Haraobi" around the abdomen wishing for an easy delivery. It is quite useful to keep you balanced as well as warm. Nowadays, some people wear a maternity girdle instead of a Haraobi. But a Haraobi is easier to adjust to your size. Many Japanese visit shrines and pray a God for an easy delivery, and buy Haraobi there...After delivery, you can use your Haraobi again to regain your shape, and cut it in small pieces and use it for your baby's nappies. However, these days most people seem to be using handy disposable diapers.

Even though I lived in Japan, I'd never heard about it, and I bet a lot of other people have no idea what it is, either. There isn't much information about it in English, but you can read about it in Japanese. There's too much information to translate it here quickly, but maybe one of those online translation thingies would be decent enough.


Feast of Trumpets

Today is Rosh Hashanah, so downtown Chicago is pretty quiet. It's considered the Jewish New Year, but in Leviticus, it's called the Feast of Trumpets:

23 The LORD said to Moses, 24 "Say to the Israelites: 'On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. 25 Do no regular work, but present an offering made to the LORD by fire.' "

That's all it says. There's no mention of a new year there. So why do people consider it a New Year? Here's an explanation:

The name "Rosh Hashana" literally means "Beginning of the Year." You may wonder how this can be, since it is called the first day of the seventh month! The reason is that the Jewish calendar is built on two cycles-the religious calendar beginning in the Spring, and the civil calendar beginning in the Fall. In the Torah, the months are never named but only numbered, beginning with the month of Nisan in the early Spring, which is the first month according to the religious calendar.

Since the source of the holiday is the Bible, I'm tempted to say "Happy Feast of Trumpets." But that will confuse people, and I wonder if they even know what any of this means.


Add the g!

It bugs me when Northerners don't add a "g" to the ends of words. Like "I'm doin' it," or "tryin' it," or "he's sayin' that..." or "the doorbell was ringin' but I didn't answer it."

It's not like people are in too much of a hurry to add the "g," they're just not being conscientious. (Or "bein' conscientious"? Maybe the missing g there is just a Southern thing).

What also seems to indicate a lack of attention is when people are talking about a past event, but they use present tense. Here's a hypothetical conversation between humans A and B:

A: I went to the store, and the lady says to me, "Is that all?" and I say, "Yeah."

B: Well I went to the gas station, and the guy's lookin' at me, like I'm crazy, because I don't have my credit card with me.

Hello! Use past tense! Sometimes people will describe an awful situation on a call-in radio talk show, and I can't help but keep track of how many times they're using the present tense to describe the past. Here's another fictitious example:

"I got home, and I walked in, and there's this guy standing there, holding a gun. It was scary. Luckily, I had my cell phone, so I call my husband and he runs in with a gun, and there's a big shoot-out, and then my husband says, 'I'm gonna kill you!' And then he kills the guy and there's blood everywhere."

You'd think that she wouldn't want to re-live such an awful experience, but by keeping it in present tense, she is. Keep it in the past, and we'll all be able to appreciate what you're saying (or sayin').

I wonder how this type of speech--the lack of a "g" and present tense for past--can be described. Is it from a lack of education and/or reading? Is it a regional thing, colloquial, or does it result from laziness?