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The 2017 Acid Martini Award

The 2017 Acid Martini Award

Say it once, and you’ve said it a thousand times: Our Chinese overlords are going to be pissed off when they get to the United States and start remaking English. They have a language with two common variations – Mandarin and Cantonese – and we’re soon going to end up adopting one or both of them as a basic way of making a living. We can complain all we want about foreigners coming in and blurring up the lines between our own wonderfully quirky language and their native tongue, but we’re well on the way to being outright owned by China, so better start learning while we can!

While we start becoming polyglots, though, we can do something that precious few of us know how to do: Start learning to speak proper English. English is in danger of being lost forever, and those placing it in the greatest danger are ourselves. The President of the United States, the symbol that the world over sees as a representation of everything about our country, has a vocabulary only big enough to fit inside a single paragraph. So as people in the rest of the world see and hear Donald Trump, they think to themselves, what on Earth about English is worth holding onto? Let it fucking die! And we don’t do English any favors by mudding it up with bullshit words and repurposed terminology. That’s why we need to learn how to speak. I know many people reading this have been inspired by Donald Trump to believe proper English isn’t worth holding onto, but come on! George W. Bush wasn’t verbose, but he made the effort to try. Bush Senior wasn’t bad, and Reagan was brilliant. We need to follow Reagan. Or Obama, if we’re leaning Democratic.

So with that in mind, I present the 2017 Acid Martini Award, named for the drink I would happily serve to anyone I caught using the following affront to English.


Let’s get one thing straight: I’m not talking about snow. I’m talking political speak by right-wing dumbasses who don’t know anything about politics. “Snowflake” is the term adopted by people on the right who whine about the fact that swaths of people who aren’t them are waking up to the fact that they deserve basic human dignity. And they’re all a bunch of white people who are upset that they can’t get away with being racist as hell anymore.

Perhaps the worst thing about this term is that the people using it have managed to get offended by a broadway play, Starbucks cups, and other mundane everyday objects. They’re people who also whine constantly about having their own dignity as Nazis and Confederates – people who are trying to obtain their own dignity through subjugation and outright genocide. Now the American version of Hitler is in office, these assholes have gotten their way, and yet all they can do is find various ways in which the country is trying to oppress them.

Think about it: Starbucks cups vs. real discussions about having laws guaranteeing the right of other people to vote revoked. Yeah, whatever.



The 2016 Acid Martini Award

The 2016 Acid Martini Award

Ah, language: That thing we use to prevent communication from being reduced to a system of blinking. The trouble, however, begins with the fact that language has a habit of changing and evolving. Today’s rude slang word is tomorrow’s popularly accepted word, which becomes a dictionary term the day after. If you went back to the past, the language even in English-speaking countries would sound like some sort of alien-ese that couldn’t be deciphered by the linguistic experts of either Klingon or Elfish.

It’s at this point that I should pause to remind you that Klingon and Elfish are both fictional languages and that, despite being fictional, they ARE languages. Not like pig latin – which is just an annoying way of revising English – but LANGUAGES, with proper words, pronunciations, sentence structures, and words which condense entire ideas into a singular expression or term. Let that sink in. Also consider the fact that to avoid linguistic confusion between international boundaries, scientists use terms in latin in order to maintain a sense of universality. Latin has been dead in common usage for thousands of years.

That doesn’t mean all the changes will be for the better, though. Slang comes and goes in ridiculous and sometimes ugly trends. That’s why I’ve created the annual Acid Martini Award, which I named after the drink I would serve to anyone I heard using the worst, most annoying slang words in English. I started them a couple of years ago, giving out awards to a battalion of words and phrases that cropped up which I considered an insult to our Germanic lingual roots. Then I relocated, meaning I skipped them last year. But now, this is going to be a yearly thing, as I award the word, phrase, or expression which got under my skin the most during the last year. This year, the winner of the Acid Martini Award is…

No, I don’t have anything against your favorite toast spread. But that’s the problem I’m having. If “jelly” were still a reference to something you digested, I would consider it normal and not bother it again. But lately its come to the forefront of my list of annoying truncations: “Jelly” is apparently the truncated way of saying “jealous.”

It’s also a case point for what the oldens hate about the millennials. As far as truncations go, “jelly” has an unpleasant and valley vapidity to it. If the movie Clueless was 20 years younger, Cher and Di would have been spitting it at a rate which would force its viewers to jam rail spikes into their skulls, and the movie wouldn’t be the cult classic it is now. Say it aloud to yourself and you can project the full valley girl picture in front of you.

The greatest absurdity is that “jelly” doesn’t even shorten the word. Both “jelly” and “Jealous” contain the same number of syllables, so it’s not as if you’re even saving yourself a mouthful or any unpleasant things you’re forcing your tongue to do.

For Abuse of the English Language: The 2014 Acid Martini Awards

For Abuse of the English Language: The 2014 Acid Martini Awards

As you may be able to deduce from the fact that I spend so much time writing, I love language. (You little Sherlock Holmes, you!) I love my native language of English, and appreciate the little ticks and quirks that go with being able to use it well. English is considered a difficult language to learn, and there’s no better example of that than the fact that so many of the people who want to officialize English as our country’s national language have the linguistic capabilities of a seven-year-old. Maybe it’s an empowerment thing for immigrants; you know, trying to motivate them to learn to speak English better than they do? In any case, though, every now and then, little new words, suffixes, and slang terms pop up that lack the subtle sophistication of good English and come out sounding like Alice in Wonderland’s White Rabbit is trying to say them with a severe case of the mumps? Yeah, a lot of the more communal terms used in English drive me crazy, because it’s communal slang which slowly works its way into the common lexicon and changes the language. While I’m not against linguistic evolution, there are just some terms which should never, ever be used, for any reason. To honor the worst of the English language, I’ve created the First Annual Acid Martini Awards, named in honor of the drink I would like to offer anyone I catch using the following terms.

Apparently, this became a shorthand way of saying “totally” sometime while I wasn’t looking. It doesn’t make any sense. It’s inefficient, doing away with the finality of the S at the end of the adjective. Therefore, it can trip people up, and so it comes off as less shorthand and more of a way to blow out your windpipe at an early age if trying to use it in rapid succession. And that’s not even getting into the larger problem that exists with this term: A tote is a freaking bag!

Cray Cray
Here’s another adjective which can easily be mistaken for a noun. It can also be mistaken for a cutesy, precocious children’s nickname. Oh, look, here comes Cray Cray! A shorthand for the word “crazy,” cray cray is a failure because the most dominant letter in crazy doesn’t appear in cray cray: You don’t get that Z sound, and that makes for a term which hold less impact than the original version. So what tries to be a shorthand term for a mental condition just ends up perpetuating a bunch of negative stereotypes about people whose craziness isn’t obvious from the outside, and people will continue to mistake real crazy people for loud frat douchebros.

Speaking of loud frat douchebros, here’s a term which we’ve started using in our craze for short, convenient acronyms which go well in cell phone texts. It’s the acronym for “you only live once,” that eternal excuse for frat douchebros to do supremely stupid things with complete disregard for the safety of themselves or those around them.

This is a concept as old as time itself, and it’s not something I’m objecting to. My objection here is strictly with the way the millennials apparently felt the need to create a word which basically hijacked the concept and made it seem like something new and original which they thought up all by themselves. Maybe they felt the need to make the concept feel fresh and exciting, perhaps? I don’t know. What I do know, however, it that the whole idea of spending your week off from work sitting on your ass at home worked just fine when it was actually called spending your week off from work sitting on your ass at home.

This is a case where I’m not objecting to the word in itself so much as I am what the word morphed into. Literally has turned into a qualifier which is used to emphasize a greater point. This demeans the original meaning of the word, which is supposed to mean something that has to be taken as it was said. For example, if you stood in a line that was 30 miles long, you only stood in a line that was figuratively 30 miles long. If you literally stood in a line that was 30 miles long, it would have meant you physically stood in a line that physically stretched the entire length of Western Avenue. I hope whatever was at the end of that line was worth that kind of wait. I want to say I’ll literally lose my mind if people keep misusing literally like this, but I’ll only figuratively lose my mind.

Om Nom Nom
This is what Pac-Man kept saying as he gulped dots, isn’t it? It still only makes sense as the sound he makes when he eats.

Now that I thought of this, strictly adding “totes” up there was shortening that list by quite a bit, although I do remain adamant that “totes” is by far the most vile offender. I guess I overlooked the other upscale truncations, like “amaze,” “obvi,” “whatevs,” and all the others.

I can at least feel like this one is justified. People taking pictures of themselves on their cell phones is a relatively new phenomenon, and I abide by the belief that there’s a legitimate difference between selfies and real photographs. But that doesn’t make the word any more pleasant, and I’m hoping a better term eventually comes along that replaces it. I’m not holding my breath, though, especially not after that essay James Franco wrote about selfies.

I hope these words eventually end up going the way of other offenses of the English language like “jiggy” and that ridiculous “-izzle” suffix. Remember, language is very important. Little words can have a huge impact on people and events. We want language to be something that gets taken seriously, and the words on the list above are actively dumbing it down. So I think it’s time to start fending off these terms with a (figurative) pointy stick before the Germans start taking pity on us.

Learning English Again for the First Time

Learning English Again for the First Time

I love my language, and I get a kick out of thinking, toying with, and explaining the little quirks and nuances about English most of us don’t usually bother thinking about. I don’t believe offical recognition of English as an official language is an idea which is entirely without merit, either. But one of the things that drives me crazy about the people who want to promote that latter viewpoint is that they are frequently barely capable of properly speaking English themselves. I don’t just mean throwing a few emoticons into their regular text messages, either; we all do that. I mean that in regular, ordinary speaking and writing, they keep making juvenile mistakes which aren’t exactly major, but still enough to make me question their intelligence.

Well, guess what! In a shocking twist of fate and fortune that could only ever happen to me, upon transferring to my old college, too long had passed since the last time I had taken a proper English course, and so it was time for me to be a good student again and force myself through a whole new English class. And for a person who has been writing semi-professionally for 15 years, knows the language extremely well, and constantly complains that most people complaining about how English isn’t our national language suck at speaking it themselves, I’m rather clueless in knowing exactly what the hell I’m doing in a lot of the problems I’m given in that class. I’m not having some overwhelming amount of trouble, mind you; what’s going on is that when it comes to knowing what’s what in the English language, I’m not quite as smart as I thought I was.

English literature courses rely on cranial flexation in order to understand the theoretical and abstract from any given piece of literature. This is usually music to my ears; the theoretical and abstract are things my own brain gets along with just fine, better than a lot of the course material I’m required to study, in fact. I’ve written interpretations of a lot of movies, TV shows, and literature. You’d think finding and deciphering a theme would be second nature to me by now. As an author who is increasingly writing short stories, though, I am also well aware of the fact that when a writer sets out to write a piece of literature, we frequently write it with just the story idea in mind. Many authors will write up a guideline to help themselves flesh it out, but I feel like that would restrict me on the atmospheric level – I’m only trying it just now, and it doesn’t seem to be going well.

In other words, we have stories to tell. We don’t often write anything up with any idea of what themes can be culled from it; as long as the story itself gets told, I doubt most authors really care how their work is interpreted, and I’m sure most would read an interpretive essay with interest on the reader’s conclusions and how they came to those conclusions. The story I’m currently writing is about a luckless romantic trying to impress a girl he likes, and ending up in a fistfight with Mike Ditka in the process. Read that sentence again, and answer this quiz question: Do you think, with a story like that, I’m really giving a shit about themes or interpretations? I’m not. I’m just going with the flow of the situation, and hoping it turns out halfway decent.

This is kind of my specialty when I try to write fiction. Invent a character, invent an unlikely situation, and figure out how the character would adapt to the situation. I’m also working on a mystery story revolving around a hitman who also acts as a sort of detective for people who live under the law, but that one isn’t going quite as well. In the past, I’ve written works about a rock musician who had an out-of-body experience (that one was inspired by the story of Motley Crue member Nikki Sixx, which he talked about in the band’s autobiography); a guy who found a hidden treasure that made him rich beyond his wildest dreams and exactly what happened after he found all that money; a conversation between God (yeah, that God) and a suicide bomber, and others. I also wish I could write them faster, and that I could figure out where to send them without so much difficulty.

Themes were never the concern with any of them. Sure, I’ve tried to write a few of them within some sort of context, but context is something broader than theme, at least once the rules you’ve established for your fictional world are set up.

In layman’s terms, I think of the unusual situation, and set out to write a story about (mostly) ordinary, regular people in those situations. I tried writing a couple which vaulted off that form of literature – one was a science fiction story that worked nicely, the other is that mystery I mentioned about (I wish I knew how to be good at writing mysteries) – but mostly, that situational stuff is probably my niche.

Besides that, I’ve also got to worry about the subjects of sentences; the verbs of sentences; predicates; sentence fragments; and all those other little goodies that drove us crazy in elementary school which no professional author has ever used. Learning these has given rise to the personal realization that I’ve forgotten everything I’ve ever known about them.

To think that, during the past two semesters, I was learning calculus and needed my formal understanding of basic algebra to return to me. What should happen in that instance but my old algebra lessons actually coming back to me, and not being so cluttered or confusing that time. In fact, I was remembering my algebra – a subject I took twice in high school and four times in college – perfectly, and without any of the confusion or clutter that made it such a pain to learn. My second semester, when I took a class in human movement which involved physics, recalling my geometry took a little bit longer, but I still managed to do it when one of my professors was giving me help. Now here I am, fully taking a subject I studied and passed, and having trouble recalling rudimentary aspects of it, even though it’s something I’ve been doing now for a very long time and excelling at. I’m not very fond of my brain right now.