SoCS — Beginnings and Endings

720351BE-7122-45EB-98A7-03285D72CD92After my teachers in high school drummed it into my head that you’re never ever supposed to end a sentence with a preposition, I was shocked to find out that most language experts don’t actually abide by this so-called “rule.” Some grammar mavens even call that “rule” a myth.

What are prepositions? Actually, prepositions are some of the most frequently used words in all of English, such as of, to, for, with, on, and at. A preposition is a word or phrase that connects a noun or pronoun to a verb or adjective in a sentence.

On reflection, if the “never end a sentence with a preposition” rule is a myth, what about never starting a sentence with one? Well, it turns out that using a preposition or a prepositional phrase at the beginning of a sentence is both common and grammatically correct.

The word “after,” which is the very first word of this post, is also a preposition. And that’s a good thing because Linda G. Hill challenged us, for this week’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday, to start our post with a preposition. With that in mind, I started my post with the word “after,” which is a preposition. Yay me!

And while we’re talking about “hard and fast rules” in grammar that I was taught in high school, another was to never start a sentence with a conjunction.

Well, according to Grammar Girl, “It’s fine to start a sentence with a conjunction. And, but, and or are the three most common members of a group of words known as coordinating conjunctions. In fact, a substantial percentage of the sentences in first-rate writing begin with conjunctions.”

And with that, I’m going to end this post right now. It’s time to move on.

FOWC with Fandango — Tattoo

FOWCWelcome to August 24, 2019 and to Fandango’s One-Word Challenge (aka, FOWC). It’s designed to fill the void after WordPress bailed on its daily one-word prompt.

I will be posting each day’s word just after midnight Pacific Time (US).

Today’s word is “tattoo.”

Write a post using that word. It can be prose, poetry, fiction, non-fiction. It can be any length. It can be just a picture or a drawing if you want. No holds barred, so to speak.

Once you are done, tag your post with #FOWC and create a pingback to this post if you are on WordPress. Or you can simply include a link to your post in the comments.

The issue with pingbacks not showing up seems to have been resolved, but you might check to confirm that your pingback is there. If not, please manually add your link in the comments.

And be sure to read the posts of other bloggers who respond to this prompt. You will marvel at their creativity.

50 Word Thursday — The Head Coach

F064BAEE-7417-46A0-A039-542887A06974“What had happened to him at that moment was what happens to people when they are unexpectedly caught in something very shameful,” the headmaster said.

“Are you talking about that incident when the former head coach of the school’s soccer team was in Cairo?” the recently hired head coach asked. “That time when he was allegedly caught having a sexual encounter with some overrated soccer jock?”

“Well, I’m not one to dish dirt,” the headmaster said, “but, yes, that time. He was in Cairo at the invitation of the national soccer team of Egypt,” the headmaster eagerly explained. He tried to duck out of the hotel so that the authorities wouldn’t catch the two of them together.”

“It seems he made one bad choice after another,” the new head coach said. “He clearly has an insipid character and lacks even a modicum common sense.”

“It’s a shame,” the headmaster said.

(150 words)


Written for this week’s 50 Word Thursday prompt from Kristian at Tales From the Mind of Kristian. The idea is to use the image above (unattributed), along with the line, “What had happened to him at that moment was what happens to people when they are unexpectedly caught in something very shameful,” from   Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, and to write a post that must be between 50 and 250 words, in 50 word increments.

Also for Paula Light’s Three Things Challenge, where the three things are “Cairo,” “duck,” and “invitation.” And for these daily prompts: Your Daily Word Prompt (overrated), Word of the Day Challenge (jock), Fandango’s One-Word Challenge (dirt), The Daily Spur (catch), Daily Addictions (choice), and Ragtag Daily Prompt (insipid).

Friday Fictioneers — Tacky, Campy, and Kitschy

319AF249-8523-4678-906F-1CFBAC0F8B58“Tacky,” Adele said as she looked around and offered her unsolicited opinion about the restaurant’s decor. “What is that monstrosity on the wall? A papier-mâché orca? Really, Gladys, why would you even suggest a place like this for our weekly lunch?”

“Oh Adele, don’t be such a snob,” Gladys said. “I think it’s kind of campy.”

“I sort of agree with Adele,” Arlene said. “The decor does seem kind of kitschy.”

“Campy? Kitschy? Seriously, you two are just being bitchy,” Gladys said. “This is a restaurant, not a gallery. We came here to eat, so shut up and let’s order.”

(100 words)


Written for this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt from Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Photo credit: Dale Roberson.

Fandango’s Friday Flashback — August 23

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of you earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember?

Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year.

How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year? You can repost your Friday Flashback post on your blog and pingback to this post. Or you can just write a comment below with a link to the post you selected.

If you’ve been blogging for less than a year, go ahead and choose a post that you previously published on this day (the 23rd) of any month within the past year and link to that post in a comment.


This was originally posted on a now defunct blog of mine on August 23, 2011.

Lost in Translation

85A2A3CE-73D9-4027-AFFC-6A8DC67210F9“Home, James,” my wife said to me a few nights ago as we started our brief drive home from the restaurant.

Our son and daughter were sitting in the back seat of the car and our daughter asked my wife, “Why did you call him James?”

My wife and I looked at each other in disbelief. “Haven’t you heard that expression before?” I asked.

“No.”

“Well, it’s an old expression, and apparently a very dated one,” my wife said, “where ‘James’ is a chauffeur to some very wealthy person, who, sitting in the back seat of the carriage or limo, instructs her driver, ‘James,’ to take her home. It’s sort of a cliché, a reference to having someone do your bidding.”

“I still don’t get it,” our daughter said.

“I guess there’s a certain lost-in-translation factor when it comes to generational references,” I said. “Things that may have been relevant to an older generation have no meaning or context to a younger generation.”

This whole exchange got me thinking about cross-generational missed references, and not just within a family, but even in the workplace. After all, I’m an older guy and most of the people I work with are anywhere from 10 to 30 years younger than me.

How many times have I attempted to be witty or insightful by making a reference to something that no one else “got” because only those of my generation (i.e., early Baby Boomers) would recognize?

50688FBB-0D16-4800-94D8-C9B6EAE79CC2Why the awkward silence, I wondered, when I referred to someone who I thought acted like a mercenary gun for hire as “Paladin”? Didn’t these people ever watch “Have Gun Will Travel” back in the 50s?

I’ll never forget the time when I was talking about the film comedy team of Martin and Lewis and one of the thirty-somethings in the room said, “Oh, you mean the guys who explored the Louisiana Purchase, right?” Um, no, not even close.

Or when I mentioned “Ma Bell” and someone asked me whose mother I was referring to.

1CFCB8E3-5D25-4034-AF25-98D070A7021CHow about the blank stares when I commented, as our team was preparing for a finalist presentation for a prospective client, that we needed to make sure we were well rehearsed so that we didn’t come across like the Keystone Kops?  “Huh?  Who?  What?”

The other day someone asked me about an account I had worked on a few years ago and I said, “Hmm, that was quite a while ago. I think I’ll have to get into Mr. Peabody’s Wayback machine to refresh my memory.”

A334821A-B183-4082-A69C-BB1EC1443FFA“Mr. Peabody?”

“Yeah,” I said. “You know, Sherman and Mr. Peabody from Rocky and Bullwinkle.”

“Rocky and Bullwinkle?”

“Forget it. I’ll check the client file in my archived folders and get back to you.”

What once were relevant references from my generation too often fall flat on today’s Gen Xers and Millenials: TV test patterns, movie newsreels, 45s, 8-tracks, party-lines, rotary phones, Sputnik, Dr. Strangelove, Mr. Whipple, Bucky Beaver, Hi-Ho Silver, Kimosabe, Happy Trails, jump the shark.

Once, when something weird was going on, I sang the theme to the old TV show, “The Twilight Zone.” You know, “Nee-nee, nee-nee, nee-nee, nee-nee….” Nothing. No recognition.  The only weird things at that point were the looks I got from the others in the room.

Not that long ago, in the pre-mobile age, the term “landline” had no relevance and phones were never described as “smart.” Same with the word “download.” It had no applicable meaning. Neither did “emoji.”

Back then, being “online” meant queuing up in some long line, perhaps waiting to buy tickets to see the latest movie filmed in Todd-AO or CinemaScope. (Google it.)

A web browser could have been a phrase to describe someone who studied spider webs. A laptop was something a grandparent or parent might invite a child to climb up upon. Your desktop was merely the top surface of your desk. A mouse was an unwelcomed rodent…or a famous Disney character named Mickey.

Times change, technology changes, and, it seems, the language continually reinvents itself. Older references fade from consciousness and fresher, more contemporarily relevant ones emerge.

Maybe the post-Baby Boomer’s can’t relate to some of the expressions from my youth, just as I had trouble doing so to the expressions from an even earlier time (example: “23 Skidoo”; what the hell does that mean?).

But that’s okay. I’m down with that, which I think means it’s “groovy.”