Okay, I voted and lost in every single category, but I’m still devoted. All my “R” friends and colleagues in Kansas will now accuse me of “grade inflation” for giving an “A” to all the “D” candidates. But, hey, it cheers me up that Sharron Angle, Carly Fiorina, Linda McMahon, Christine O’Donnell and Meg Whitman got the “F” they deserved. Goes to show that money can’t buy everything. As for the dubious Blanche Lincoln, like another Blanche, from now on she can just depend on the kindness of strangers.
Listen to Paul’s interview.
“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players… One man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages. At first the infant, mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms. And then the whining school-boy… the lover, sighing… a soldier, full of strange oaths… the justice, in fair round belly… The sixth age shifts into… the pantaloon, with spectacles on nose and pouch on side… Last scene of all, that ends this strange eventful history, is second childishness and mere oblivion: sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.”
Although I’m calling this website “a personal memoir in flux,” it is also my hope that the various sections will be of interest to people, whether they know me or not. “Out on a Lim” shares short observations on day-to-day life. “Limerances” chronicles longer remembrances of things past. “Limoscenes” presents descriptions of the plays I’ve written to date, with production photos. “Images in Limbo” shows pictures of the aging process, of me with family and friends. “Limpets” are the non-human dogs in my life, and “Limitations” are tributes to people who are no longer with us. So here I am, past imperfect, present progressive, future tense. Let me know what you think. — Paul
According to Oxford University English professor Kathryn Sutherland, who examined 1,100 handwritten pages of unpublished work by Jane Austen, the much-celebrated novelist actually relied heavily on editor William Gifford to correct her grammar, spelling and punctuation. I don’t mean to go into a coma about commas, but this news gives me pause.
Back in the unruly 1970s, when I first began teaching Freshman-Sophomore English at the University of Kansas, much to the chagrin of my students, I was a stickler for proper punctuation, especially commas, semi-colons and apostrophes. I remember how, in anger and frustration, one of my students nearly came to blows with me when, during a scheduled conference in my office, I pointed out all the punctuation errors in just the opening paragraph of his latest essay. He snatched the offending magnum opus from me, looked me contemptuously in the eye, and shrieked, “When I’m your age, I’ll have secretaries who can correct my punctuation, and where will you be? Be sure to look me up if you’re still teaching English in this dump.”
I have no idea what happened to this particular student, but if he’s now married and owns his own business, I hope his wife is happy with all his secretaries, and that he hasn’t been responsible for any of them missing their periods.
It’s one thing when under-achieving freshman or sophomore err in their punctuation, and quite another when creative writing students make the same mistakes. Worse, if these creative writers are would-be playwrights, because the way dialogue is punctuated is exactly the way actors will say their lines. Here’s me talking to one of my playwriting students.
“No one wants you to be comma happy, but you need to use commas before and after forms of address, and also before and after sentence modifiers. Unless you do so properly, I’m not going to read your plays.”
“Well I’ll be…!”
“That’s exactly what I mean.”
“You aren’t well.”
“I feel perfectly fine.”
“Well I tried, but I can see this isn’t working. Oh, well.”
“What the f— are you talking about?”
Even if there are some, or maybe even many, among us who haven’t read her books, if we at least go to the movies, we should all know who Jane Austen is, thanks to people who churn out chick-flicks based on her novels; but, sad to say, until today, I, for one, knew nothing about some obscure 19th-century English editor named William Gifford, who was a stickler for grammar, spelling and punctuation.
In her new television campaign commercial, Republican senate nominee Christine O’Donnell claims that she’s me. So the cat’s out of the bag. Voters in Delaware now have proof that this ex-witch is really a 66-year-old Asian-American male who believes in evolution and masturbation because even chimps in zoos do it. What’s worse, Christine O’Donnel’s remaining relatives in China are all secretly planning to invade the United States of America. Christine O’Donnell is Fu Manchu! Who knew?
That Bishop Eddie L. Long’s exclusive group of handpicked teenage boys within his New Birth Missionary Baptist Church is called the LongFellows Youth Academy should have been warning enough as to what the famously homophobic bishop was really up to. Four of these eponymous LongFellows have now revealed that the bishop not only provided housing for them, he also frequently visited them for sessions of kissing, oral sex or masturbation.
According to The New York Times, in addition to his church, which has a swelling membership of 25,000, the affluent bishop also owns “a private school and the Samson’s Health and Fitness Center, where he holds court and pumps iron with young people.” I guess that’s where, when the opportunity arises, pumping iron and pressing flesh all go into a good workout. I bet the sybaritic bishop was probably against the Stimulus Act, too.
All this wanky talk about Republican senate nominee Christine O’Donnell’s hands-off approach to masturbation reminds me of the famous story about Dorothy Parker naming her parrot Onan because “it was always spilling its seed on the ground.” Except that, in O’Donnell’s case, all she’s spilling is garbage, especially when she parrots everything Sarah Palin says.
Yes, Delaware Republican nominee Christine O’Donnell seems to be a Sarah Palin clone, but am I the only one who also sees a facial resemblance to Monica Lewinsky? That is, until Christine opens her mouth, and then she sounds just like Sally Field gushing over her anatomically-incorrect Oscar back in 1980: “You like me, you really like me!”
And where are they now? Monica is peddling handbags on the internet, Sally is reversing her bone loss with Boniva, and Sarah will soon be replaced by all the Smegmama Grizzlies she seems to have spawned.
I was a relatively cheerful person until I read the results of the extensive survey of American men in the October issue of Esquire magazine. Drawing the line between 20-year-olds and 50-year-olds among all ethnicities, in the happiness category, the group with the highest all-around unhappiness are Asian-American men who are 50 or older, 33% of whom consider themselves unhappy. I don’t know if being recently retired has anything to do with it, but this is the first issue of Esquire in years which I’ve actually read cover-to-cover, joyfully, only to be told that I’m really an unhappy person.
Among the many images in the media of our troops returning home from Iraq, the two which stand out in my mind appear side by side in the current issue of Time magazine. One shows a beefy soldier with the I-116th on bended knees, religiously packing a stack of his favorite reading matter, mostly girlie mags. And the other, right next to it, shows others with the same regiment, praying silently before their last convoy-escort mission to Baghdad. This, for me, is truly evocative of America today—on the one hand, God; on the other hand, porno. And now we can all wash our hands off Iraq.
As though the national hysteria over the right of some non-Christians to congregate and worship in mosques in this freedom-loving country weren’t depressing enough, comes news that academic research shows how native speakers of English tend to distrust people who speak the language with a foreign accent.
Through the years, depending on which country America happens to be at war or at odds with, Hollywood movies have always characterized the enemy by giving them weird German/Russian/Chinese/Japanese accents. So how would we judge people like Henry Kissinger, Carmen Miranda, Desi Arnaz or Roman Polanski today? Ooops. Forget about Arnaz, a Latino who can continue to love Lucy, but probably not in Arizona. Or Polanski, who is now more American than he is Polish or French, but who continues to be demonized because he was attracted to a pubescent teenager, something our culture obviously does not encourage, even though we worship in the House of Cyrus and the Temple of Bieber.
As for myself, these days, whenever people ask me where I’m from, I no longer go to the trouble of telling them that I was born of Chinese parents in the Philippines, but that I have now lived nearly two-thirds of my life in these United States. I just smile inscrutably and tell them I’m from Kansas. However, even though I learned to speak English from the American Jesuits and the Irish Christian Brothers in the schools I attended in Manila, because I still speak the language with a little accent, thanks to “Why Don’t We Believe Non-Native Speakers? The Influence of Accent on Credibility,” the article published recently in The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, I now know why no one in America ever believes anything I say.