Archive | February, 2013

I Dreamt a Dream

25 Feb

The evolution of my feelings towards Anne Hathaway can be summed up by these, my chronological thought snippets:

“… prinCESS of Genovia.  That is fun to say!  This makes her a great actress!  Marlon Brando never had long princessy names like that.  Side note: remember to find out who Marlon Brando is.  I’m pretty sure a Wayan’s brother, but make sure.  May also be a type of cereal.”

“Ella Enchanted? More like ‘Smella Enchanted!’ Or: Ella Enchanted? More like, ‘Ella En-shant be getting any Academy Award nominations!’  Side note: you are ready for your battle rap career.  I know you’re nervous, but every battle rap crowd loves a good Ella Enchanted reference.  Just remember this, above all else: people who aren’t white definitely know and care about Anne Hathaway.” 

“OMG, DEER! DEER IN MY HEADLIGHTS! No … nope, Anne Hathaway.”

“Princess Diaries II: Royal Engagement?  I say, Princess Diaries II: Royal EnRAGEment … that this film had to end!  What a daring vision! What a journey!  Although that no-name playing Queen Clarisse really brought Anne down.”

Then there was a long period of time in which I did not think about Anne Hathaway at all.  Then:

“Hey, good call, Christopher Nolan: I kind of like her as Catwoman.  And wow, what a brave choice on Anne’s part: it’s not easy to follow America’s favorite Cat Woman, Halle Berry/most aunts.”

Then, as in all great love stories, ours took a turn when one night, I had a dream that Anne owned a small, dirty hair salon in south central Florida.  I came in for a consult, but we mostly ended up shooting the breeze and talking about life.  We finally got down to talking about hair, and I told her I was thinking about going for a pixie cut, but that I was scared.  She looked me in the eyes, and with the earnestness of a pixie-haired lemur said, “Don’t cut off all your hair.  That’s too much change.  But you should buzz off all of the sides.”

Little did dream Anne know, but shady business-owners in Florida giving me nonsensical beauty advice is my love language.  Once, the janitor at rip-off theme park Dysney Whirld told me that if I colored my face the same way I colored my nails, I’d almost be a bird, and we dated for six years.

So because of this, I would have liked her even if Les Mis hadn’t happened, but then it DID happen, and now I love her.

But you, like me, were probably unable to pay attention to most of Les Mis after Anne’s iconic “I Dreamed a Dream” scene because you were all like, “When is the past tense of dream dreamed, and when is it dreamt? Is it a Briti–AHH, THIN DEER ON THE SCREEN, THIN DEER ON THE SCREE–nope, nope, Anne again.”

To solve all of your problems, here’s a quick and easy look at some of the most commonly used irregular verbs (i.e. verbs that might have a past tense that ends in a ‘t.’).

Verbs where the past tense CAN end with a t, but where the -ed ending is more common:

Dreamt: The most common way (in American English) to make this past tense is to make dream into dreamed.  Dreamt is an acceptable option, but it is much more common in British English.

Burnt: Burned is a much more common past tense, but when it’s turned into an adjective, burnt is more popular (see: burnt sienna, brown’s best chance at love).

Leapt: This is a fairly well-accepted variant on the past tense of leap.  Be sure not to spell it “lept,” though.

Verbs where the -t ending in place of the -ed ending is still technically an option, but it’s very uncommon and very British and you will probably be judged for doing it unless you’re entrenched in some kind of Angophile fan-fic world, in which case, being judged is probably not really your biggest concern at this point, is it?:

Clapt (instead of clapped)

Leant (instead of leaned)

Learnt (instead of learned)

Slipt (instead of slipped)

Smelt (instead of smelled … which is funny, because smelt is also a fish, and, you know, eww)

Spilt (instead of spilled)

Words where the -t ending is the ONLY acceptable past tense ending:

Bent (past tense of bend)

Crept (past tense of creep)

Dealt (past tense of deal)

Felt (past tense of feel)

Left (past tense of leave … although the real past tense of leaves are buds! Yes! Got ’em with a nature zing!)

Lent (past tense of lend)

Lost (past tense of lose)

Meant (past tense of mean)

Sent (past tense of send)

Slept (past tense of sleep)

Spent (past tense of spend)

Wept (past tense of weep)

This list is not comprehensive, but it does cover many of the big players in the irregular verbs game.

I know you’re probably sick of reading this since it’s just been a repeat of all the post-Oscars Les Mis stuff you’ve been reading all day anyway.  You know, because there’s anything Oscars-related besides Jennifer Lawrence worth talking about anyway.

But before I totally lose you, two fun Les Mis facts:

1. Russell Crowe was not aware at any point that he was being filmed.  All of his scenes were cut from a paparazzo’s secret footage of an argument Russell was having with his publicist.

2. Pantene Pro-V tried to book Anne Hathaway’s character for a shampoo ad campaign, but it fell apart.  Something about the “ghost of Victor Hugo threatening to haunt everyone at Pantene per a clause in his contract” or whatever.

The ad campaign?  “Fantine Pro-V.  For when you’re a prostitute and all your hair is gone.”


Word of the Week: Nonplussed

18 Feb

Nonplussed: A state of utter perplexity or confusion

Similar to: Confounded, disconcerted, astonished

Example: Sometimes I think that even if I discovered that Daniel Day-Lewis had played Wilson the volleyball in Castaway, I wouldn’t be the least bit nonplussed.

You Give Grammar a Bad (Last) Name

3 Feb

I have some gaps in my knowledge of classic movies.  My parents were really strict with what we could watch growing up, and once they loosened the reins a bit, I was way too busy caring about playing sports to bother with petty things like the how the history of our cinema is really the history of us.  I was trying to win sport games!

I’ve made up a lot of lost ground, but there are, of course, still gaps in my film history.  I think this may influence my understanding of what does and does not make a “good” movie.  My ignorance leads to situations like the one I had last night, where I had this actual phone conversation with my friend Mandy:

Mandy: (describing her experience watching the Oscar-nominated film Amour) I don’t think I’ve ever had an experience like that watching a film.  I was misty-eyed the entire time.  It was so intense and so sad, but it was such a perfect picture of love and the inevitability of death.  The love in that movie is the kind of love I hope my married friends have.

Me: I’ve only had an experience with a movie like that once.  Actually, I think it was something we watched together in college.  Do you remember John Tucker Must Die?

[Okay, okay, I admit it: this conversation actually did happen, but it was obviously a joke.  I would never be friends with someone who watched French films.  And did you know that the main characters are like, really old?  Gross.]

But I closed another gap this last week: I finally saw The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II.  We didn’t watch The Godfather: Part III because I’m pretty sure Herman Cain had a role in that one, and I heard there’s this ridiculous scene where Michael goes, “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse,” and Herman goes, “We are still talking about Pokemon, correct?”  And plus, can you imagine how Herman would treat the women in that film?  I bet he’d turn them into total caricatures, like, every woman would either be a virgin or a prostitute or someone’s mother.  Can you imagine?

Of course, I knew some of the classic moments before watching either of the movies.  I was most excited to see the “leave the gun; take the canoli” scene, as it was such a gutsy move: a before-its-time-guns suck-carbs-rule jab at both the NRA and the Atkins’ diet?!  I hear that Francis Ford Coppola had to deal with blowback for that particular act of political suicide for years, most notably having to live to see his daughter direct Lost in Translation.

I was confused about some of the other scenes, though.  Sure, I had heard all about this whole “hoarse in bed” thing, but I was like, well, that really doesn’t sound like a very big deal, couldn’t the guy have just taken some Nyquil?  Turns out it was something different.

But overall, I think I reacted to the movies the same way that most red-blooded Americans do: it got me thinking about the grammar of last names.

The whole Godfather franchise revolves around different families: most notably, the Corleone family.  And sure, as movie viewers, we get to see dumb surface-y things like the juxtaposition of the descent into evil and the ascent into power, and what the family and individual looks like at the point of intersection; but what we DON’T see are all the behind-the-scenes stuff, like the infamous deleted scene where Fredo is trying to send the annual family Christmas letter, and he’s all like, “Hey, pop!  I know I can just sign this ‘The Corleones,’ but what would we do if our name ended with a ‘y’?  Oh my god, what would we do if our name ended with an ‘s’?  Hey, pop, real quick while I got your attention, do you love Michael more than me?  Also, what do we do about apostrophes?”

Of course, we never get any response because Don Corleone is too busy stuffing acorns into his cheeks to prepare for winter.

But don’t worry, Fredo.  I’ve got the answers for you.  Come on, let’s get in the boat and go out on the lake and talk about it.

Basic Pluralizations

To pluralize a last name, you keep the name intact.  For most last names, you can just add an -s.  Brown becomes Browns.  Miller becomes Millers.

If the last name ends with a -y, resist the temptation to change it to -ies for the plural.  The last name Cassidy would NOT be pluralized as “the Cassidies.”  Just add the -s, as in, “The Cassidys are pleased to invite you over for a special screening of Butch Cassid–hey, wait, THAT’S OUR NAME!”

Tricky Pluralizations

English is ridiculous.  That’s what you need to remember.

So, if the last name ends with an -s, -x, -z, -ch, or -sh, you need to add an -es to make it plural.  So that means you need to write things like:

-The Williamses love you

-The Xeroxes hope they didn’t copy your idea for a Superbowl party

-The Roaches hate sunlight

Possessive Form

Don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be.  You don’t need to be adding stray s’s all over the place.  You’re going to run into one of four situations.  Here they are:

1. A basic last name like Brown or Tatum.  If you aren’t making the name plural, then you only add an apostrophe + s.  For example:

Mr. Brown’s car

Mary Tatum’s inferiority complex

2. A last name that you have pluralized because you are referring to more than one member of the family.  Take care of the pluralization before you worry about the apostrophe.  That’s my #1 tip.  Follow the rules above.  Brown becomes Browns.  Roach becomes Roaches.

No matter what the last name, if you make it plural, it will end in ‘s.’  Don’t be frightened.  Once you have made it plural, just tack on an apostrophe at the end.  Simple as that.  You don’t need to add an apostrophe + s.  Just the final apostrophe after you’ve pluralized it.  So, for example:

The Browns’ annual tree-lighting ceremony was, to be honest, underwhelming.

The Roaches’ way of life was confusing to their neighbors

3. A singular last name that ends with ‘s.’  A last name like “Jones” is what I’m talking about here.  Don’t worry – it’s easy!  If you are referring to a singular Jones (like Sarah Jones or Professor Jones), follow the rules for a singular possessive above and add the apostrophe + s.  It looks like this:

Sarah Jones’s name was boring.

4. The plural form of a name that ends with ‘s.’

This one is fun.  You can either use the -es + apostrophe ending, or, my personal favorite: DON’T CHANGE ANYTHING.  JUST PUT A FINAL APOSTROPHE AT THE END.  Boom.  You’re done!  Here’s what both would look like:

The Joneses’ Christmas card was ugly. (Option 1)

The Jones’ Christmas card was ugly. (Option 2)

The Edwardses’ family dynamic was strange. (Option 1)

The Edwards’ family dynamic was strange. (Option 2)

I personally favor Option 2.  It’s a lot prettier and a lot less confusing, at least to me.

And honestly, I’ve had enough confusion this past week.  People talk about how great these Godfather movies are, but no one ever talks about how confusing they can be.  During Part II, I kept waiting for Ben Stiller to show up so that he and DeNiro can have that famous “circle of trust” talk, but no dice.  And  I spent all of Part I thinking that when Marlon Brando kept talking about “an offer he can’t refuse,” he was referring to Target’s Red Card.  I mean, 5% off every purchase, no strings attached?  How does anyone turn down THAT?

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