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March 13, 2008 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-03-13

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4B -- Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

Inspecting grammar

MORE THINGS
WE HATE

By ABIGAIL B. COLODNER
DailyArts Writer
"Women" is not an adjective.
It's a noun. So why, in the last sev-
eral years, has the phrase "women
[noon]" replaced "female [noun]"?
Society of Women Engineers.
"Osteoperosis: A Woman Doctor's
Guide." Organization of Women
Architects, who claim they work,
interestingly enough, in a "male-
dominated field."
Word use changes over time, but
that doesn't mean those changes
don't merit our scrutiny. The last
time I heard the non-adjective
"man" modifying a noun was in
"man candy." The last time I went
for a checkup, I didn't see a man
doctor. A man chef isn't creating
great cuisine downtown, either.
Nor is there a man senator in
office, or a man clerk bagging your
groceries. We speak of maleness as
an attribute, not an object.
It seems we're all having lady
problems these days. Do we not
care enough about the women we
describe to get the words right?

To use a noun in place of an make better use of the very acu-
adjective objectifies the descrip- ity that got them into a position to
tion. If "female" sounds too clini- shape the English language in the
cal, why don't we squirm at the first place.
use of "male" to describe men? To use the noun "women" as an
Maybe the associations of male- exception to the rules of grammar
ness with validity and femaleness is a cop-out. It detracts from the
with a qualified status are stronger credibility of the argument being
made by many of these founda-
tions, articles, and professional
and outreach organizations - how
w hen current use can a group demand its rightful
hinders the equality if it can't respect its right
to use the same language?
actual meaning The improper use of the noun
"Democrat" to modify the noun
"Party" has received some, if not
enough, press. The term's objecti-
than we like to admit. The misuse fication of a political party that's
of a term intended to dignify adds based on a set of ideals and policies
insult to injury. has been pointed out as a deliberate
I suspect the phrase gained manipulation of the English lan-
popularity in some pro-feminist guage. It is to the detriment of the
context that also happened to be party it describes, in effect if not
gimmicky and unprofessional. If intent. Bush and stauncher Republi-
"women" professionals want to be cans have come under fire for their
seen as women who are experts in suspicious misuse of a term that
their field, rather than mistaken describes their opposition party.
for individuals who happen to be The lack of respect is implicit in
experts in women, they should the grammar.

HATE
From Page 1B
"WHAT'S UP?" BLOW-BY
Attention humans: When
walking by an acquaintance, it
is appropriate to offer a saluta-
tion, such as: "hello," "nice to
see you," "good day kind sir," or
"buenos dias fuck face." How-
ever, "what's up?" or "how's
it going?" is not an acceptable
utterance in passing. Those
are questions, questions that
necessitate answers. If you
would like to greet someone,
say hello - don't ask a question
and walk away. And for the love
of god, if some d-bag greets you
with a "what's up?" while blow-
ing past you, do not respond in
kind. "What's up," "what's up"
is not legitimate discourse; it's
just two assbags that forgot
how to say "hello."
BOOKS ON TAPE
Thinkyou'reliteratebecause
you've blown through seven
books on tape this month? Get
real, troglodytes. Books are
for reading, and your beloved
tapes masquerading as litera-
ture are making a mockery of
the bona fide intelligentsia.
The oversized print and shiny
holograms slapped onto the
boxes of books on tape scream
out to the morons who actually
believe they're investing in a
modern version of new hard-
cover releases. No voice - cer-
tainly not the obnoxious phony
attempts at dramatization
- can enlighten its listener for
hours on end. And don't even
try making excuses for the
authors who do the voice-over
themselves. They should have
an "S" permanently stamped

on their foreheads for sell-
ing out. Unless you're blind,
there is no excuse for listening
to books on tape - not a road
trip, not that bullshit about
how you get nauseous when
you read in the car. The very
concept degrades the experi-
ence of reading... a book.
EXCLAMATION POINTS
Punctuation is important!
It allows us to communicate
effectively! And if you've ever
been forced to translate Latin,
you know have frustrating a
lack of proper punctuation can
be! Which is why you need to
stop destroying it! See how
fucking annoying this (!) is?
The widespread proliferation
of the exclamation point is one
of the great tragedies of our
time. Once, maybe twice a year
something happens to you that
requires an exclamation point.
But when you feel the need to
throw 17 of them into every
group-project email you send,
the symbol loses all mean-
ing and you come off as a tool.
Let's try to express ourselves
through words. OK? OK!!!!!!
MILEY CYRUS
Hannah Montana a.k.aDesti-
ny Hope a.k.a. Miley Ray Cyrus
- this chick's ego has ballooned
past the point of toleration, and
we hate her with a blistering
passion. OK, so we don't actu-
ally have much to justify our
irrational hostility toward the
Disney teen star/pop-industry
darling, but we're entitled to
at least one "just because" cat-
egory. And really, how perverse
of a sensation is she that people
are willing to pay upwards of
$1,000 per ticket to swim in a
sea of purple glitter? America,
you disgust me.

POP SONG RINGTONES
It was supposed to save the
music industry. Instead of tee-
nie-boppers buying overpriced
CDs, they'd buy a snippet of
the new Kings of Leon single
for $0.99 and use it as their
ringtone. Problem solved. But
nothing is more grating than
sitting in a lecture while some
d-bag's phone blows up with
"Baby Got Back," or encoun-
tering that tool who's trying
to relive spring break with
"Margaritaville." The vibrate
option is there for a reason.
it's still annoying when your
neat, space-age Nokia vibrates
the hell out of a Jimmy John's
wrapper in your backpack, but
if we hear "Pretty Fly (For a
White Guy)" in choppy, tingy
convulsions again - or really,
ever again - we're killing a
polar bearcub. With a dull ax.
MSA
Think back to your middle
school student council. They
planned dances and, um, prob-
ably did something else. Now
change the label to Michigan
Student Assembly, except they
waste hunks of cash on con-
certs that allow Ludicrus to
spout on about UM girls and
blowjobs. Really ... really? You
have all this money and you
bring Guster to campus for
free? Surely you can do better
than this. Use some of the large
chunks of money you have to
benefit the University's arts
scene. Use some of your time
to plan a good concert instead
of taking a stance on racist
graffiti. Surprise, surprise -
you're against it. Probable fall
agenda: cancer might be bad;
Kenny G. and Hill Auditorium;
sounds like a winning combi-
nation.

I

Pretention hits the books

ByBENVANWAGONER
Daily Arts Writer
Studying literature is a lot like
dabbling in indie music. It's one of
those rare microcosms of intellec-
tual societywhereyour knowledge is
often based not on the volume of the
information, or even its relevance,
but rather on its obscurity. It's as if
there's some point system assigned,
and whoever can quote from - or
even reference - a piece of litera-
ture that no one else has read gains a
point. Five for obscure Shakespeare
("Coriolanus"), ten for excruciating-
ly painful Southern literature ("The
Sound and the Fury"), 15 for Joyce,
and, best of all, 25 for "Beowulf". In
Old English. In fact, it's even better
if they've never heard of it, although
this can cause a little trouble in
assigning points.
Most sane people would avoid
such competition at all costs but
some revel in it. In the world of lit-
erature, your point value decides
everything. It's an indicator of your
social status far more powerful than
any statistic in football or basketball.
It extends beyond a simple assess-
ment of your ability to read and ana-
lyze the most bizarre literature by
acting as an actual social determi-
nant. The point value decides your
place in the hierarchy of the learned,
the scholars, the literati. Too low and
your words will be met with incred-
ulous stares from everyone in your
seminar regardless of their accuracy.

When your classmates have finished
looking uncomfortable over your
ignorance, one will speak up, almost
apologetically: "Perhaps, but in Book
II of "The Faerie Queen," I believe
Spenser made a powerful move to
discount that by..." You won't under-
stand it, but, then again, you aren't
meant to.
Of course, this is all nonsense. Yet
it's this sort of behavior that seems
so prevalent in seminars and discus-
sions, both in class and out. There's
some of this in every discipline. In
political science, it's the people who
insist on talking about the implica-
tions of the Austrian Prime Minis-
ter's move to decriminalize parking
on sidewalks. In math, it's the train
of thought that leads to the purchase
of huge chalkboard installations in
some unsuspecting roommate's hall-
way. It's simply the idea that some-
how, elitism and obscurity not only
makes you smarter, but it also makes
you better. And righter.
It's a mistake. Literature is not
meant to be exclusive, nor is it meant
to be a means ofconstructing a social
hierarchy. Ithasn't been for hundreds
of years, since the Reformation. And
no one wants to revisit that.
The worrying part of this trend is
not simply that it's a trend, but that
academic society is buying, and per-
haps has bought, into it. Maybe it's
the intimidation factor. I know I've
always had this sort of thinly veiled
terror that I would be found out -
unmasked and exposed to the world

as someone who had not read Joyce,
and, no, who had not read "The Great
Gatsby" either. There seems to be no
room for any admission of ignorance,
only blind insistence on greater
obscurity spurred on by fear of being
discovered as a fraud.
Rather than deepening or
extending the study of literature,
the obsession with elitism only hob-
bles it. The nonchalant references
your professor makes to George
Herbert's elegiac poems and their
relation to modern Christian doc-
trine will never be instructive. Call
the reference a shortcut to meaning
if you will, but when it's a shortcut,
only the one taking it can see it: It
loses its effectiveness and becomes
nothing more than a wrong turn.
Hemingway had it right. Lit-
erature is about the exploration of
ideas and helping move those ideas
from the author to the reader. As
soon as the ideas are unnecessar-
ily complex, the author is doing
his readers a disservice. The same
goes for the social structure that
surrounds that literature. Points
should be awarded not to those
individuals whose references are
the most obscure but to the ones
who can effectively make their
argument with works everyone has
read and in a manner everyone can
understand. Rather than respect
the literature snobs who namedrop
Keats and Kyd, we should celebrate
those who are devoted to being
accessible and relevant.

COMPILED BY MATT EMERY, CHRIS GAERIG, CAROLINE HARTMANN MICHAEL PASSMAN
AND ANDREW SARGUS KLEIN.

Freshmen and Sophomores, are you looking for a summer internship?
Would you like to take a step towards bolstering your resume?
Do you wan to work with the coolest people on campus?

'90S POP ROCK
"Hey Jealousy," "Mr. Jones,"
"Glycerine," "Stupid Girl." I
could continue forever but
alas, I must stop. There are few
things more shamefully enjoy-
able than '90s pop rock. For
some reason, every band in the
'90s seemed to have an incred-
ible propensity for hooks and
head-bopping singles. Since-
shamed groups like Hootie and
the Blowfish and Blues Trav-
eler were topping the charts
... legitimately. And there's
still something strangely com-
forting about seeing the Rock
Ballads commercials while
flipping through the channels
on endless Saturday nights.
This doesn't mean you should
play these guys at parties, but
don't be ashamed to get your
groove on in your room. Just
make sure you're all alone;
believe me, you don't want
anyone seeing you.
CABLE DATING SHOWS
We didn't even know who
Tila Tequila was, but who
cares? She was making men

and women eat bull penis to
find her true love. We're over
Flava Flav. Three seasons and
still no love? You're done. After
Ms. Tequila, nothing can com-
pete. Whipping, lap dancing on
grandparents and one giantbed
for everyone to sleep in. Add a
show like "I Love New York"
and that's some real television.
Squealing girls, midgets who
can't swim and hair pulling?
Perfect. "Rock of Love" with
Bret Michaels and a stripper
butcheringthe national anthem
in front of veterans? Priceless.
And if you're a contestant and
lose, don't fret - you'll get your
own show. "That's Amore!"
gives a Tila reject the chance
to watch girls in bikinis wrestle
in pools of spaghetti. It's win-
win: no one finds love, everyone
cries and we watch the "real
life" drama. Oh, America.
RICK'S
After several stolen coats,
innumerable blackout nights, a
shot glass thrown at my head
and 45-minute lines, you would
think I'd be over this place.

Maybe it's the shark bowls (if
you've never had one, you've
never had a real Thursday
night,) maybe it's watching the
leaders of campus's most visible
student groups get so drunk
they can't stand or maybe it's
just because we finally respect
ourselves too much to party at
Pike. Every Friday morning we
repent, every Thursday night
we return. Fuck you, Rick's.
TMZ.COM
We hate Britney Spears.
We really, really hate Britney
Spears. But for some reason, we
love reading about her, prob-
ably because her life story is
more enthrallingthan anything
Tom Clancy has ever written.
And, there's no better place to
read about Britney's crazed
escapades than TMZ.com: the
American equivalent of the
British paparazzi that killed
Princess Diana. And we really,
really like dangerous, hounding
paparazzi. Drunken driving,
infidelity and underage, celeb-
rity drinking - what could be
better?

4

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4,6

How Dungeons and
Dragons opened the
minds of a generation

f- Ann Arbor
l Zj
.......... ... ............

MEDIA From Page 1B
outfit, every weapon my charac-
ter owned. And she died. I live a
boring life. For that moment I felt
what it felt like to be a hero, if only
for a moment."
Yeah, yeah. Take your eyes
out of the back of your head and
go back to the captivatingnarra-
tive sequences in "Halo." Show
me a kid who, by the time he/she
(probably he) is 13, understands
sacrifice, strategy, lateral think-
ing and the vocabulary of a high
school senior -all because of
Dungeons & freakin' Dragons

- and I'll show you a shining
example of nerd-dom at its best.
If you go to Robert Jordan'sblog
(www.dragonmount.com/Robert-
Jordan/), you'll find, through
every last heartbreaking entry,
evidence of an audience that is
both beautifully nerdy and beauti-
fully articulate in its grief over
the loss of a man few of them have
ever met.
An enlightened, open mind is
not so terribly hard to develop.
Thank you, Mr. Gygax, for open-
ing up a different means for the
end we're all, hopefully, tryingto
reach.

4

4

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