A columnist of heart and mind

A columnist of heart and mind
Interviewing the animals at Children's Fairyland in Oakland. L-R: Bobo the sheep, Gideon the miniature donkey, me, Tumbleweed Tommy the miniature donkey, Juan the alpaca, Coco the pony

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Grammar Police Strike Again!

If you've ever been on Facebook, you know that the grammar police are out in full force. And now they've moved from the virtual world to the real one.
Case in point: Mr. Mopps' toy store in Berkeley, which for months has had a sign on its front door reading, "Push it good" – a cultural reference to a 1987 rap song by Salt-N-Pepa.
Wouldn't you know it? Last week somebody posted a second sign next to the first, reading, "'Push hard.' 'Push good' is not good English. Kids must learn good English. Thanks."
In other literary news, congrats to Cal's University Librarian, Tom Leonard, for winning the New Yorker's weekly cartoon caption contest No. 371.
The cartoon shows a mouse holding a gun on a cat, who is speaking. Leonard's winning caption: "Six rounds. Nine lives. You do the math."
The prize doesn't include a free parking place on campus. (For that, you have to win a Nobel Prize, confirming former UC President Clark Kerr's famous observation that "The main preoccupations on campus are sex for the students, parking for the faculty and football for the alumni.)
But he will get a framed copy of the cartoon, including his caption, signed by the artist, Joe Dator. According to contest rules it's worth $250, and Leonard is responsible for any tax obligations.
Since the contest began in 2005 it has attracted many thousands of entries from would-be humorists, including the late film critic Roger Ebert, who entered 107 times and won once.
But Leonard cautions not to expect a repeat performance from him anytime soon.
"I'd have to be inspired again," he says. "But I'm not quitting my day job."
By the way, Leonard knows a thing or two about cartoons himself. He's written a biography of the greatest cartoonist of them all – Thomas Nast, the man who created the Republican elephant and the Democratic donkey.
Finally, May has been a mixed month for the City of Oakland.
On one hand, the city is going through police chiefs like facial tissues – three in one week, at last count. And the Warriors are threatening to desert their loyal fans for the fleshpots of San Francisco.
On the other hand, Oaktown was chosen by the travel website Movoto as "The Most Exciting City In America." (And to rub salt in the wounds of those snobs across the Bay, San Francisco placed a distant third.)
The criteria included museums, bars, movie theaters, music venues and theater companies per square mile (the more the better); big box stores and fast food restaurants per square mile (the fewer the better); and park acreage per person.
The two final criteria were population diversity – the smaller a city's majority race, the higher the score – and percent of population between 20 and 34 years old.
"We aren't saying older people are boring," says Movoto. "But a younger population does tend to be more excitable."
Sure, Oakland has problems. But it also has great weather, beautiful buildings, and some of the nicest and most creative people in the world.
"When we think of an exciting place to live, we think about places were there is always something to do, whether it's eating at new restaurants or jogging through a park," says Movoto. "That sounds a lot like Oakland."
To read the full study, visit Movoto's website at http://www.movoto.com/blog/top-ten/10-most-exciting-cities/

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