Gaga-Boo Music

By now you may have heard about the Fox News anchor who used a racially derogatory word in her discussion of Lady Gaga’s performance at the Oscars.  The beauty-pageant winner turned newscaster said it was hard to really hear Gaga’s voice with all of the “jigaboo music” accompanying the singer.  I missed seeing the Academy Awards again this year.  I think my streak for skipping that show for 56 consecutive years is impressive, but I’m not here to grandstand.

She's a former beauty pageant winner, and he's a co-anchor.  Is it okay to call someone a co-anchor?
She did well in the swimsuit competition, but faltered during the talent portion, where she showed how limber she was by sticking both of her feet in her mouth. The co-anchor seems to already know he’ll soon have that desk all to himself.  Is it okay to call someone a co-anchor?  That’s not one of those slur-word things is it?

Since I didn’t see it, I guess there’s a slim possibility that Gaga’s back-up music was so raucous and bizarre that the standard English language was simply insufficient to adequately describe it.  If that was the case, the reporter had little choice but to resort to jerky hand gestures or funny sounding slang words like “razzamatazz” or “badonkey-tonk”.

It can be difficult to hear Gaga's beautiful voice, especially in this scene where she sang "..the hills are alive, with the sound of cherry bombs going off in my bra"
It can be difficult to hear Gaga’s beautiful voice, as in this scene where she sang “..the hills are alive, with the sound of cherry bombs going off in my bra”

When criticized for her use of the slur, the news anchor Tweeted her little heart out, spewing apologies and offering the explanation that she didn’t actually know what the word meant when she said it (twice, but who’s counting, right?).  The guy to her left seems to be a little more familiar with it.

In these N-word sensitive times, many white folk simply aren’t up to speed with the broad selection of racial epithets available out there to insult most any group.  In truth, there’s no shortage in colorful words and phrases with which to simultaneously flaunt both ones racist leanings and impressive vocabulary.  I’m not interested in helping popularize any of these lesser known terms and will keep them to myself, unless someone cuts me off in traffic.

As a lifelong speaker of English, I understand that we sometimes say things we don’t mean to.  I say the wrong thing fairly often, such as “Hell yes!” to the offer of yet another pint of beer when I meant “No thank you”.  The difference is that I know the meanings of the words, I just chose the wrong ones.

I know I should've said no, but it's a Goat Boy Imperial Weizenbock!  No one says no to another one of those.  Lookit that cute little goat boy!
No one says “No” to another Goat Boy Imperial Weizenbock, NO ONE !!

When I go to Starbucks, I order whichever coffee drink I’m interested in having, and specify whether I’d like a small, medium or large.  I do not order a yeti or a grande.  Though I’ve certainly been to enough Mexican restaurants to know that grande probably means large, I’m not positive, so I don’t use the word.  To further complicate things, Yeti is another name for Bigfoot, which has the word “big” right in it.  No wonder people are confused.  Besides, the whole thing smacks of pretentiousness, but that’s for another blog post.

My daughter recently brought these back from Seattle, home of Starbucks.  I think we can all make the Yeti/Mocha Latte connection now.
My daughter recently brought these back from Seattle, birthplace of Starbucks. I think we can all make the Grande-Yeti-Mocha Latte connection now.  For the record, Yeti turds have a sweet, nutty taste.

The real story is not that some perky newscaster used a racist term.  The big message is that this woman, who talks for a living, had no idea what she was saying!  Thousands of viewers tune in to find out what’s going on in their corner of the world and this is one of the people who tells them!?    She didn’t know what it meant, and said it anyway – at least that is what she Tweeted, but there’s a chance that she also types things she doesn’t know the meanings of.

No need to bother with a caption, the pic is self-explanatory.
No need to bother with a caption, the pic is self-explanatory.

It’s commendable that people turn on the news in the first place, considering the sensationally tragic nature of most news stories.  Even if some of them are only tuning in to find out who won the game or to ogle the weather girl, at least they’re taking some slight bit of interest in the world around them and not parking themselves in front of a “13 Wives and Counting” marathon on A & E.

Quiet kids, Daddy's watching the news!  (Image from the nayshun dot com)
Quiet kids, Daddy’s watching the news…and learning a little Spanish! (Image from the nayshun dot com)

This talking head has done little to restore peoples’ faith in the news media.  If only she’d stuck to the teleprompter.  In other news, Walter Cronkite is still spinning in his grave like a rotisserie chicken on a cordless drill.  When pressed for a comment, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley both stated they could do a better job handling broadcast news despite their mutual state of deadness.  Stay with us for continuing coverage, we’ll be back with weather and sports after these messages (Pull back to studio shot and cue the Starbucks commercial).

 

So-Called “Words” with So-Called “Friends”

Hypothetical question: What’s more obsolete, Scrabble Tiles or cufflinks? (Image from declubz.com)

I come from a fairly literate family.  That, in and of itself is hardly noteworthy – except maybe it explains my use of words like “noteworthy” and phrases like “in and of itself”.

As a child, we had Scrabble, along with a bunch of other board games.  While my parents would tolerate Parcheesi and Monopoly with us kids, they and some their adult friends were dangerously good at Scrabble, especially my Dad.  With his roots in the theater and education, he has never been one to be messed with in the realm of words.  I remember him routinely doing the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle in ink, in one sitting.  It was typically a long sitting, often in the privacy of the basement bathroom – but that’s for his blog to discuss (In a recent Facebook post, the 83 year old lamented having trouble with both this week’s New York Time Sunday Magazine crossword and the Harper’s puzzle.  If this trend keeps up, I’ll be as smart as him by the time he’s 119).

One of the exciting aspects of Scrabble was the challenge.  If a person doubted another player’s word, it could be challenged.  I’m sure there were penalties for the accuser or the defender depending upon whether the word was real or proven false.  I had no poker face whatsoever, so in countless games of Scrabble with the family, I never once considered trying to put one over on them, even if my Dad wasn’t playing.  Bluffing with non-words wasn’t part of how we played the game anyway.

That’s 8 points. Do I get bonus points for using an actual word? (Image from etsy.com)

Alas, I’ve once again sunk into sentimentality.  Today, most Scrabble games are laying lost and forgotten in the backs of closets, covered with dust and missing tiles.  These days we have “Words With Friends”, a thinly-veiled, digital bastardization of Scrabble.  I played it briefly on my phone with a few friends and was disappointed with the lack of any sort of challenge, not to mention the seriously flawed dictionary it possesses.  The things which it defines as words are laughable.  I was amazed when one person played the word “oa” against me.

That’s not a word!” I howled “There are no consonants in it!  It’s an abbreviation for osteo-arthritis, fer cryin’ out loud!”

It appears that many of the people who play the game, when frustrated with a lack of easily spelled word opportunities, just resort to randomly throwing letters in a row or column, hitting “submit” and hoping for the best.  When rejected, they simply throw another batch of letters in a line and try again.

Like many things in popular culture, Words With Friends has increased its annoyance quotient by becoming a staple of Facebook.  Now, in addition to status updates like:

“Jerry Sandusky just made a new friend, named Bubba”

– or –

“Marie Antionette just had a piece of cake”

We can also have ones which say:

“Sally Jones just played ‘Xyllp’ in Words With Friends”

– or –

“Bob Smith just played ‘cat’ in Words With Friends”

Now I’m torn.  Who should be more embarrassed;  Sally for playing a word which doesn’t exist in any language, or Bob for settling for ‘cat’ when we can all assume that there must have been a better word available?  What kind of culture are we existing in when people are so cavalier about airing the dirty laundry of their limited vocabularies and/or their lack of gamesmanship?  Don’t get me wrong, in a pinch, I would spell cat for the measly 5 or 6 points it gets me, but I would never do so for everyone to see!  For the record, I would never spell xyllp, even if I had a triple letter block for the ‘X’, because it’s not a damn word!

Meanwhile, their competitors, oblivious to what’s going on, are busy looking for motivational posters to slap up on their Facebook walls, driving kids to soccer practice or maybe changing the litter box as they wait for notification that it’s their turn.  Games can stretch on for months as people pay attention to them when the spirit moves them.

As if the lack of a large vocabulary and any skill in spelling among W.W.F. players isn’t bothersome enough, the lack of attention to the game is the final straw.  I can recall board- and card-games played in my life, where one of the participants was preoccupied with something else.  Someone at the table would eventually slam their fist down and ask “Are we playing (insert name of game here) or not??!”  Game play allows, and is even enhanced by, a degree of social interaction and off-game topics of discussion, but when it’s your turn, it’s your damn turn.  Taking 3 days to get around to your turn is not “playing”.  It’s just a sad version of life-support for a pet you don’t really care about.

This all begs the question as to whether taking 72 hours to take your turn in a game is a more profound waste of time than writing a blog about it.