I was reading something about an actor I've never heard of, and they said he has "a well-deserved reputation as a pre-eminent British Actor."

And then I wondered: what *is* preeminent anyway? Is it like "prehistoric"? Like, before there was eminence, there was a "pre" eminence?

When I looked it up, I saw that "eminent" and "pre-eminent" are synonyms, both meaning "widely known and esteemed."

So what's better: to say "She's an eminent painter" or "He's a pre-eminent sculptor"?

This is one of those questions that occasionally pops in my head which can be defined as "obsessively nerdy."


Retrospectively campy

Last summer, I complained about the loss of the Sci-Fi Channel on regular cable because I had been watching Stargate SG-1 for a while. Luckily, I was obsessed enough to tape all the reruns they played on Monday, so I would watch those throughout the week before they played the newest episodes on Fridays. Even though the series was getting weird and wacky, I still had to see it. And I saw all the episodes before they yanked the channel, so my "hard work" paid off.

Well, today I saw an episode on broadcast TV (they're a couple of seasons behind the Sci-Fi Channel), and thought, "Wow, that's a weird and campy show." I remember when I first saw the series--I thought it was odd and cartoony. But eventually, thanks to all those successive reruns on cable, I grew to like it until I couldn't go a week without ingesting it.

Now that I've been away from it for several months, I can better see the loopiness of it. Was I really that into it? Why? It's sort of like seeing someone you used to be infatuated with and wondering, "What did I ever see in them?"


The prof concurs

I wrote about my worry over the misuse of jealous and envious, and didn't even think of checking out the English error site. But Arrogant Polyglot checked it out, and I found this explanation:

Although these are often treated as synonyms, there is a difference. You are envious of what others have that you lack. Jealousy, on the other hand, involves wanting to hold on to what you do have. You can be jealous of your boyfriend’s attraction to other women, but you’re envious of your boyfriend’s CD collection.

Exactly! I'm so glad the prof who created that site concurs.



Okay, I'm going to be very nitpicky and uber-analytical about this, but it sort of bothers me: when people say "hunderd" instead of "hundred."

This is how it's spelled: h-u-n-d-r-e-d. And that's how I pronounce it, and am starting to think that others should too. It doesn't sound "good" when people say "hunderd." It's not a herd of hunds, it's a number!

Especially when I hear it in radio ads--the guy will give the phone number, as in "222-58 hundERD" and all I can focus on is his oddball pronunciation. I want to call the number to not order anything, but to complain and correct him.

Even the dictionary agrees with me: the audio file says that it's hunDRED! (Though they write that the pronunciation is h&n-dr&d AND -d&rd. I'm assuming the second notation is for that annoying pronunciation.)

I hope I haven't stepped on any toes, but I just had to share my indignation, especially when people pronounce it "derd" in the media!



Okay, I have really OD'd on Depeche Mode. I've been listening to their best-of CD over and over again (someone loaned it to me before I went to the concert last year).

It's a two-disc set, but I've listened to the first disc a few times a day for the last few weeks. Late last week, as that first disc was wrapping up the last song, I was getting ready to play it again, when a voice said, "Don't do it." Well, it wasn't really a voice, but my own addicted mind, because I'd had enough! It was as if I'd eaten too much chocolate--sometimes too much of a good thing (or your favorite thing) can be bad--and can make you sick!

As I've said before, that music has helped me write. Today I listened to a few songs from the second disc, probably because I’ve been experiencing “withdrawal.” But I really can’t return to that first disc for a while.



I work with people who live in suburbs that are located far from the city (as opposed to just outside the city limits). I've noticed that when they talk about people "living downtown", they don't mean people who live within the limits of this map, but *anywhere* in the city.

For instance, I was talking to someone, and they said they have a friend who lives "downtown." I assumed the person lived near The Loop (south of the river) or north of the river, but no further than Division Street. "No," they said, "they live in Wrigleyville." That's over 30 blocks north of Madison and State, which is where the address numbers start for north/south and east/west. That's not downtown. But I guess for people living way outside the city, anything that's not considered a suburb is downtown (though now that I think about it, there was one person who considered Oak Park, a suburb immediately west of the city, as "downtown").

So when I tell them that I live "downtown" I have to explain that I don't just live within the city limits. They often say, "Wow, you really *do* live downtown" (though I don't live in The Loop).


Jealous vs. envious

All right, I think the rules have changed, because I remember learning some time ago that "jealous" and "envious" have different meanings. The reason why I'm bringing this up is because I rarely hear people use the word "envious," instead using the word "jealous" for all kinds of covetous situations, such as in this sample statement:

I'm really jealous of her--she has such a nice house.

Shouldn't the correct word be "envious"? I think it should (according to how they used to be delineated). You're envious of what people achieve, have, do, etc. Jealousy means something else--it has to do with love and devotion. For instance:

I'm really jealous of her--she is going out with the guy I've fallen in love with.

The speaker is jealous because the guy she likes is with someone else--it's a heart issue.

I tried to seek out the answer online, but there are conflicting opinions. So I'm wondering if the English language is again in a state of flux with these words (as has happened many times throughout its development).


House site

Just when I was thinking of digitally converting my friend's vinyl from his spinning days in order to create a House Music podcast, someone told me about the Deep House Page. It has over a thousand mixes that you can download. I definitely want to explore it and burn some cd's. I need to, because I've been listening to Depeche Mode over and over again. For some reason, it's helping me write--I listen to it, and it helps set the mood, and I keep those sensations in mind when I'm writing about characters who don't represent me, but a part of me.

When I was writing another story, I kept listening to Coldplay because they had an international, mellow backpacker sound. I'm sure I'll return to those discs when I "return" to Thailand (in my mind) because I still want to publish a story that takes place there. For some reason, I haven't wanted to do a story that takes place in Japan, even though I know it a lot better than Thailand or Brazil. Maybe one day I will.


Art helps

I was stuck trying to write something, which got me quite down, so I took a break and went to the Art Institute. I was listening to a lecture (which I have to write about sometime--not the lecture, but the attitude of some of the lecturers and others who extract their importance from others' work), and needed to break away and look around. Then I came upon Pastoral Scene by Giovanni Piazzetta. I usually don't hang out in the 18th century Italian art galleries, but this painting helped to get me thinking about themes and what I want to accomplish in the story. I actually sat there for quite a while, looking at the picture and thinking about what it means and what direction I'm heading. I'm not saying that the problem is totally solved, but I'm not in despair anymore.


No cake

I was driving home and thinking about a challenging situation I've encountered, and the phrase "You can't have your cake and eat it too" came to mind. I know it means "You can't have it both ways," but I started to wonder what it really means (because it sounds odd) and how it came to be. You can't eat cake unless you have it, so of course you "can" have it, unless it's imaginary.

Then I discovered that "you can't have your cake" means "you can't keep it" because if you eat it, it will be gone. In other words, there will be no more cake to have because you ate it all up, so don't expect to be able to save any for future enjoyment.

Michael Quinion, a British language geek and media dude explains that the phrase was

...first written down in John Heywood’s A Dialogue Conteynyng Prouerbes and Epigrammes of 1562: “Wolde ye bothe eate your cake, and haue your cake?”. John Keats quoted it as eat your cake and have it at the beginning of his poem On Fame in 1816; Franklin D Roosevelt borrowed it in that form for his State of the Union Address in 1940...

But I still want to have my cake and eat it too! (metaphorically speaking)


Dürer book

I was given a very cool book: Buntes Dürer-Büchlein, which was first published in 1940. This is very exciting: it has beautiful colored prints created by Albrecht Dürer in the 16th century.

The problem is that the introduction (which is quite long, considering it's a tiny book) is in German. Because I've had to translate French lately and maintain kanji-ridden Japanese, my German has become awful. So I have to get myself up to speed or ask someone to help me decipher the intro. And the font is in that annoying blocky style, as if they want to reflect Dürer's time.

Well, after I got the book and looked at the images, I went to the Art Institute to check out Dutch and German woodcuts from the 16th and 17th centuries (since they're similar and are in the same space). They only had a few of Dürer's, but it's better than nothing. And I'm lucky that I can walk down there easily :)

What I did notice, which I hadn't before, was that the Dutch woodcuts seemed like antecedents to Van Gogh's work. I'm sure he'd seen several of them, and was influenced by those and Japanese ones as well (I read his biography but I don't remember if he obsessed about Dutch woodcuts as much as Japanese ones).

So within that Dürer book is a perfect printed combination: foreign printed matter and art by a master.


Back to fiction

I've done such a post before, though I'm too lazy to look for it and provide a link. Actually, I've probably done a few posts like it--I forgot. But basically, I thought I'd given up writing fiction forever. Yes, I've said it before--I wanted to give up, didn't know what the point was, blah blah. But I *really* thought I was never going to do it again. I mean, what was the point? I could write into oblivion and no one could care less. I even took a chance and submitted an excerpt of something to a literary publication that's not even high-brow, and it didn't even get published in that! So I concluded that I suck, and there's no point in trying.

The last time I wrote anything was for Nanowrimo, which I "won" (proof above) and I had a great time. But then I got into the radio biz and have been doing so much there, I thought my creative output was satisfied.

But it wasn't. A week ago, after I'd finished doing an event, I really felt a need to quiet down, be alone, and write fiction again. Last year I was working on a chick lit book set in Chicago and Brazil, but I ran out of steam because of self-doubt, frustration, and feeling like a phony. My heart wasn't in it--I was just going through the motions to crank out a story, but I hated myself for being so fake. But now that 2006 has provided more interesting experiences, I felt that I could delve into some bizarre feelings I've had to provide another dimension to the chick lit story.

So yesterday I sat down for the first time in four months and wrote and wrote and wrote. And I did the same this morning, and will continue tonight. In fact, I'm motivated to get back into my writing routine, which used to be practically every day in the morning, in a cafe nearby. Now that I'm working in the 'burbs a few times a week, I've even found a cafe up there to go to. Even though I took what I thought would be a permanent break, I feel as if I'd never dropped the ball--I guess I was racking up insights and experiences that I can channel into fiction.

Okay, I might still not get an agent, but at this point, I can't help but write because I love doing it, and even a hundred rejections won't take that feeling away. :)

Well, if I do get tons of rejections, I hope I still feel that way. :(


Food up there

I was at a *really* "exciting" temp gig (I temp occasionally, though I'm going to stop after this month) and wasn't able to use the computer, and the only reading material I had was an old Wall Street Journal and some Japanese vocabulary I had saved for down time such as this. I had five hours to kill, since the phone I was supposed to answer hardly rang, so I wrote and stared out the window and thought and tried to motivate myself to study Japanese, even though I was feeling quite lazy.

And no one was around, so I sat in silence until some people showed up to take a break from a meeting they were having, and I heard someone tell his coworkers, "There's food up there," and when he left, other people told each other the same thing: "You know, there's food up there." It didn't matter what people were talking about, the most important thing seemed to be food--free food.

It wasn't like they were saying there's "good" food up there; just the fact that there was food was enough for a special announcement. As if people need more of a reason to indulge themselves and seek out as many opportunities to pig out. I was nicely surprised when they handed me a sandwich that was definitely outside my normal eating patterns, but they didn't give me a drink, even though someone else said, "There are drinks up there."

When things are really slow, it's amazing what you'll notice, even in a quiet, cold office downtown with windows that are so sound-proof, the buildings and traffic outside are just decorations.


Orny's jury duty

I'm on Orny Adams' email list, and he sent a post from his blog which used to take so long to load, I rarely attempted to go there. Now it seems like he's cleaned it up for easier loading--there used to be video clips and pictures and too much there to load, unless you had a souped-up PC.

Anyway, the post he sent to his email list was about his experience in jury duty, and the funniest part was "an actual excerpt from 9 hours of conversation that riveted me":

CUTE GIRL #1: I’m from New England. We have the best seafood in the world.

CUTE GIRL #2: (confused) I thought Maine has the best lobster?

CUTE GIRL #1: Maine is in New England. (condescendingly) You need to learn your geometry.

Which makes me want to take notes of the conversations around me and post them here as well (nothing incriminating, of course).


Urban frontiersmen

People who've seen or heard about "urban pioneers" envision people "taking risks" by living in bad neighborhoods. Usually the pioneers are artists who are able to rent cheap, large space to do their art and live more affordably within the same space. Wicker Park in Chicago was such a place, and Williamsburg in Brooklyn was similar. I remember going there in the early 90's and it reminded me of Chicago's West Side, with the graffiti, gangbanger reverberations, garbage, run-down buildings, and elevated trains. Now I've heard it's quite trendy--I didn't see that back then!

Well what I thought about today was not pioneers or even yuppies who live in gentrified areas (former run-down areas that now have huge infusions of cash and luxury cars), but those people who choose to work at home in a quiet neighborhood of the city. They don't necessarily want to interact with the city or have ever taken public transportation, because their SUV is more convenient, and the only walking they do is with their dog. They may not even want to do much socializing or interact with that many people because they've been able to hand-pick their acquaintences. So they stay at home, go out when necessary, and are happy living in their bubble without interacting with their neighbors.

It's like they're "urban frontiersmen", staking out their claim in a decent neighborhood and raising a family and business on their own terms. The isolation they're imposing on themselves is similar to those settlers who lived in the western territories in the 18th and 19th centuries while the U.S. was wanting to expand domestically westward.

So does it matter that the urban frontiersmen live in the city at all? If they chose to live this isolated life in the suburbs, they could work at home, park their nice car in a decent driveway, and drive to the cleanest and most organized shopping areas more easily, and I suspect the lifestyle would be the same as in the city, except without the perceived and actual grit.

Maybe it's because the urban frontiersmen grew up in vapid suburban cul-de-sacs and want to be a part of the city, even though they don't have much to do with it and would be shocked to see anyone "below" their social and economic class cross their path, whether they're walking their dog outside or are walking the aisles at the grocery store.