who gives a f— about an oxford comma?

A lot of people, apparently.

Yesterday, the University of Oxford Public Affairs Directorate’s Writing and Style Guide suggested that its readers should do away with the Oxford comma.

The comma

As a general rule, do not use the serial/Oxford comma: so write ‘a, b and c’ not ‘a, b, and c’. But when a comma would assist in the meaning of the sentence or helps to resolve ambiguity, it can be used – especially where one of the items in the list is already joined by ‘and’

Then one of the editors on GalleyCat wrote a short post telling its readers about that and then all hell broke loose.

There is nothing more entertaining to me than a straight-up English debate because sometimes I’m a nerdynerd-nerd face.

On the Vampire Weekend video posted below, one commenter said:

PS The Oxford comma is a tragic waste of space — and Oxford University now agrees!

You guys, an Internet troll joined in on the debate!

Linda Holmes, one of my favorite NPR contributors, also joined in, explaining the Oxford comma in the best way possible:

For those of you who enjoy the outdoors and would no more sort commas into classes than you would organize peanut butter jars in order of viscosity, the serial comma — or “Oxford comma” — is the final comma that comes in a sentence like this: “I met a realtor, a DJ, a surfer, and a pharmaceutical salesperson.” (In this sentence, I am on The Bachelorette.)

And then she gave her opinion:

Serial commas. Forever.

My feelings are basically summed up in the first half of that Youtube comment (also, +10 points to that person for calling it a “tragedy”) and the first half of this song.


The fact that this debate is even happening makes this the best week ever.

The debate is still raging on Twitter.

Chicago Style aficionados view it as the Renaissance:

There is outrage:

And, then there’s just fun:

I’m really enjoying this, if you couldn’t tell.

under pressure

It’s a Saturday in the summertime, which I like to think means it’s Universal Farmer’s Market Day.

Three weeks ago, in between a few weddings at work, I stopped by the Lawrence Downtown Farmer’s Market to pick up some hummus (Lebanese Flower, the best in town), some pita, and some eggs. Since Saturday is Universal Farmer’s Market Day, everyone had already steamrolled through the eggs by the time I arrived.

On my way back to my car, I saw a girl with flowers and a carton of eggs at her booth. I asked if the eggs were for sale—as if you’d bring something for decoration to a farmer’s market. She informed me that they were, then asked if I was okay with duck eggs.

Without thinking, I said: “Oh, probably not.”

It took me sixteen years to eat a mushroom and my mother is still traumatized by my childhood eating habits. I was one of those kids who would sit at the table, seemingly physically incapable of eating the food in front of me. It would be hours before my mother would excuse me from the table, and in the morning she’d put last night’s food in front of me and the cycle would start all over again. I don’t know how I’m not dead.

She still brings it up whenever she calls: “Did you eat today?”

I was able to turn that back on her when I moved a month ago and bought a twelve pack of Boulevard as a thank you to everyone for helping. My mother is not a beer drinker, so of course I forced her to drink because I’m AWESOME at peer pressuring even my non-peers. She took two sips, grimaced and I told her we weren’t going out to lunch until she finished it and “I could wait all day.”

Aside: she is a lucky woman.

Anyway, this other shopper was standing next to the girl at this booth and launched into a speech about how no one wants to try anything new. She asked if I was student and then asked what I was studying. I told her English and film and media, at which point she told me I should not be doing anything creative if I was so opposed to trying something new.

Uh, what? I pretty much had to buy the duck eggs JUST TO PROVE A POINT.

Other aside: bitch.

So, I have an untouched carton of duck eggs in my fridge and I’m basically just waiting for the right time to throw them away because I am now the victim of non-peer peer pressuring. Kudos to that lady. The hunter has become the hunted.

And speaking of beer and, alcohol in general, I just added the goal of trying 100 cocktails to my 43 things. It’s my 21st goal item, which is so fitting. If you’ve got a favorite cocktail, let me know because I’m starting this ASAP. I feel like I can kill this goal in, like, three weeks… but I won’t.

operation Airstream trailer

Ford agrees with Robek that it is “more of a challenge” to find jobs now than when I graduated, no matter how crazy your qualifications. I invite anyone who doubts this to browse the resumes of Mother Jones’ most recent crop of interns, who between the seven of them speak Russian, Farsi, Dari, Arabic, Italian, French, Spanish, and Hebrew and have worked at places like PBS’ Frontline (two of them), NPR, NBC, New York Press, the Miami Herald, Washington Monthly, The Nation, Sierra, the ACLU, the FTC, and the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.

Don’t Quit My Day Job – Mac McClelland for Mother Jones

Mac McClelland is the—THE—human rights reporter for Mother Jones.

She has won awards. She has reported from Burma, Malaysia, Micronesia, Bhutan. She has worked for PBS, NPR, MSNBC and BBC.

And she is, according to a University career services counselor at The Ohio State University, basically unemployable.

My biggest hope is that someday Mac McClelland and I will end up working on the same migrant farm in Northern California, wearing our degrees as red badges of courage in a little journey I like to call Operation Airstream Trailer.

And then, after listening to the song below on repeat for a few days we will, I don’t know, Erin Brokovich all the corrupt owners of farms worked by migrant farmers! And then we’ll turn our experience into a book which will then be optioned for a film and then we’ll travel across America in an Airstream while being taped by a camera crew from the OWN network.

But, you know, nothing specific.

The Airstream trailer is a definite though. Definitely.

If this article weren’t so brilliant I’d almost be disgusted by how many times I’ve read it.


Love is about bottomless empathy, born out of the heart’s revelation that another person is every bit as real as you are. And this is why love, as I understand it, is always specific. Trying to love all of humanity may be a worthy endeavor, but, in a funny way, it keeps the focus on the self, on the self’s own moral or spiritual well-being. Whereas, to love a specific person, and to identify with his or her struggles and joys as if they were your own, you have to surrender some of your self.

Liking is for Cowards. Go for what Hurts – Jonathan Franzen Op-Ed in the New York Times

Jesus Christ!

Jesus Christ was the original tortured artist.

That’s what Andrew Lloyd Webber was getting at, right?

When I was five, six or somewhere near that age between innocence and enlightenment/self-awareness (seven?) I wanted to be a doctor, a model (not for the looks thing but for the standing around thing and getting paid–I knew what was up even then) and then finally a storyteller.

My dad, who was a pilot, would come home after being away for an entire week and recount Aesop’s Fables to my brothers and I in the back yard—always making sure to change his voice for the various animals. I felt so connected to those stories and the art of storytelling. Later, when we moved to Salina, I would always make sure to visit the storytellers’ tents during the River Festival and I started telling my own stories.

Years later, it happened.

I started feeling anxiety over things that I would write. I wouldn’t want to share it or look at it or acknowledge it because I was sure it was all the worst. That I was The Worst. But I still felt compelled to write, which is how I knew I was doomed.

I prayed that my ambitions would be skewed, that I’d want to do something easier or simpler.

Give me a love of numbers or anatomy.
Give me a passion for laws and regulations.
Anything, ANYTHING!

But please don’t make me do this.

“I only want to say
If there is a way
Take this cup away from me
For I don’t want to taste its poison
Feel it burn me,
I have changed I’m not as sure
As when we started
Then I was inspired
Now I’m sad and tired
Listen surely I’ve exceeded
Tried for three years
Seems like thirty
Could you ask as much
From any other man?”

My ambitions have stayed and like most things in the realm of love when it’s good there’s nothing better and when it’s bad I turn into a five year old and just want it to be good again and wah.

Which leads me to the present, where I have two versions of a short story minimized on my dash at work because I stayed up until I was too delirious to edit any of it last night because THAT IS HOW I COPE WITH BEING DOOMED/SCARED.

But Sunday morning and afternoon when I was sitting at my computer with the phone and wireless off and just writingwritingwriting? That made me deliriously, ceiling dancing happy. And I spent the rest of the day thinking about those characters and wanting to do more with them (and then being afraid of looking back at them, but I’m getting over it now). Everything else just feels like an obstacle to get over before I can do that again.

“Try not to get worried, try not to turn on to
Problems that upset you, oh.
Don’t you know
Everything’s alright, yes, everything’s fine.
And we want you to sleep well tonight.
Let the world turn without you tonight.
If we try, we’ll get by, so forget all about us tonight”

I am so doomed.

Which, I guess, is the whole point.

think bigger/look closer

The Midwestern stereotype still exists for a reason, of course, but guess what? It’s just a stereotype, and it’s not the only one out there. On average, perhaps big-city folk are less likely to judge you for being gay than their rural counterparts, but an alarming number of them will judge you for almost everything else you can imagine, including visible panty lines and meals at chain restaurants. They are more progressive, but they can also be more shallow and almost exhausting in their hatred of any fashion trend or any style of tattoo or any other gesture that could be seen as conformist or contrived or played out.

…kindness and positivity get more done than a subscription to any particular creed or belief system, and that intolerance and bigotry are both more widespread and less uniformly present in any given group of people than a lot of us enjoy believing.

“Man, I bet you’re glad to be out of there!” is a sentiment I hear frequently now that I’ve moved to the Bay Area–a subtle, sometimes anxious request for confirmation that I don’t have a Glenn Beck poster on my bedroom ceiling. I don’t really mind, but I can’t help but laugh at the irony: if I wanted to walk around promising people that I’m just like them and always will be, I might as well have never left home.

This article.

I grew up in a town with a little over 45,000 people. I attended a small, Catholic school with less than 300 students, where my siblings and I provided the only diversity in our elementary and high schools until the smaller Catholic school with a few Latina students integrated into ours. Before that, it was us and the Italian family. Italian was diverse; anything not German, Swedish or fourth generation Kansas was out of the ordinary.

I have dated sons of farmers who work from dawn until dusk during summer months. I have dated wannabe rappers and white gangsters with no sense of reality from towns with less than 2,000 people. I have driven on I-70 through fields of nothing. I have sped down backroads at 100 miles per hour on country nights, collecting dust and memories in towns smaller than the size of the residence hall I worked in sophomore year. And I have played sports and visited towns where people assumed I was a foreign exchange student because it’s Western Kansas, and where else could I come from?

My experience growing up was typical in some ways but so different than anyone I know. The storyteller in me (the majority of me) is so obsessed with it and wants to share it but I never know how to do that. Because Western Kansas may as well be Timbuktu to most people. I grew up in a “flyover state.” A state people assume isn’t interesting because they’ve never gotten a good look.

But I promise you there’s a lot there and eventually I’ll tell you all about it.

that wonderful moment of suspense… Tip of the Hat!

When you wonder if Tyler Perry will actually come through the gym doors.

“The Kathy Griffin Award will be given each year to the person who is most likely to show up to receive their Kathy Griffin Award.”


Jaleel White is in that Judy Moody movie, which I’m happy to say I know nothing about, so Vanity Fair ran a profile on him this week.

Besides the fact that he’s 34 and has been working in TV for 31 years (wait…what?), I was most surprised that I still knew the theme song for Family Matters and least surprised by the fact that Tyler Perry makes four episodes a week of his television series House of Payne. Homeboy does not understand quality.

“I don’t want to sound like I’m dissing Tyler Perry, but making three or four episodes in one week is not the same in terms of production value of what we did, one a week. Technically, I guess he passed us. More power to him, but it might as well be YouTube videos.” – on being surpassed by Tyler Perry’s show as the second longest running African-American show in the history of television

Hat tips all around to Family Matters, Fresh Prince, Sanford and Son, Good Times and the Cosby’s for understanding quality.

ps, I was totally Bill Cosby for Halloween last year. Surprisingly, I’ve had the opportunity to casually recycle that costume as a regular outfit at least once. Second hat tip to hipsters!

photo via Dads are the Original Hipsters

change the message

TIME, collector of lists, pictures and news, posted a countdown of the Top 10 Controversial Music Videos last week. Among them were Fiona Apple’s “Criminal” (great karaoke song, by the way), Rihanna’s new “Man Down” and Eminem’s “Stan.”

“Smack my B—- Up”, a title that is so terribly simple–and simply terrible–that it sounds like it came from a Lifetime movie, is number three on the list–one spot behind M.I.A’s “Born Free” video from last year. “Born Free” was banned from most websites and networks for its graphic nature—and rightly so. It redeems itself because of its overall message against genocide and racial profiling. That being said, watching it once was enough for me and even though the graphic murder in it was fictional, that didn’t make it any less disturbing. If you have not seen it, on behalf of your eyes, I say thank you.

Out of the ten songs, over half were misogynistic and all were either made in the 21st century or the end of the 20th century. That is pathetic and disappointing in a number of ways.

Kind of like Tracy Morgan–who makes my skin crawl. Kind of like Donald Glover and his gratuitous rape jokes. Kind of like anyone who feels like being born with a certain gender, race or sexual orientation makes them inherently better than anyone else. Kind of like the fact that our government helps perpetuate some of those thoughts by not extending equal rights to all its citizens.

Chris Kelly's comments during last night's debate

It’s been said before, but no one ever won a civil rights battle by staying silent.

Let my friends get married already.

starting to get addicted to…

You know that saying “Once on your lips, forever on your hips”? That’s the way I feel about celebrity gossip.

Not literally, of course. I don’t think talking about Justin Beiber will give you thunder thighs (but maybe you should stop talking about him anyway, just in case). I think talking about him or investing any time into knowing personal facts about his life will stick with you and find a way to permeate other areas of your life in which it doesn’t belong. But let’s be honest, errant gossip about teenagers or anyone you don’t know doesn’t really belong in your life.*

For instance, I know way too much about Jennifer Aniston.

I know she drinks Smart Water, is dating Justin Theroux (whoever that is), has dated John Mayer, is the daughter of Victor (real name John Aniston) from Day’s of Our Lives (my favorite fact about her!) and is divorced from Brad Pitt.

There are numerous ways I could have written that last fact: had her husband stolen from her by Angelina Jolie, as if he were a possession; was betrayed by her husband, Brad Pitt, for the bombshell Angelina Jolie –as if I actually know anything about the state of Brad and Jen’s marriage at that time; et cetera, et cetera.

The point is: I know too much. We all know too much.

I know so much that I have formed a theory about Jennifer Aniston.

America, or specifically, the American press, will never grow tired of/feel satisfied with Jennifer Aniston’s life  until she is married to a billionaire Greek shipping magnate, being photographed with that assthat hair and that smile off the coast of Mykonos while we deal with unyielding hot or cold weather and expanding waistlines stateside. Because we are obsessed with subscribing emotions to her and our own versions of happy endings for her, regardless of what her happy ending might be. Because she already gave us a happy ending once. Because we’re great with beginnings but can’t deal with the endings that we get. Because we’re still obsessed with her fairy tale.

The idea of happy endings, misrepresented beginnings and unexpected conclusions all lead to my current addiction. I’m starting to get a teensy, tin bit obsessed/addicted to Mia Farrow, by way of Woody Allen (I know, I know)

A letter from Mia to her stepdaughter, Nancy Sinatra:

My children are a continuous joy. The latest is Soon-Yi (aged 6, 7 or 8 — we’re saying 7). She’s from Korea — was found abandoned in the streets of Seoul — with rickets, malnutrition — even her finger nails had fallen off, she had lice and sores everywhere. Now she speaks English and is learning to read, write, play piano, dance ballet & ride a horse. She is also learning that people can be believed in and even loved. These are golden times and I am aware of that every single second.

After reading this TIME article from 1992, I’m really feeling a Jennifer/Brad/Angelina vibe from Woody and Mia, in that the press portrayed them as the perfect love story and of course they were spectacularly wrong about that, at least in the end.


Mia’s humanitarian goals and status as “the betrayed” makes her both Angelina and Jennifer.

Her ethereal, whimsical nature is something worth looking up to, even if it’s just on the surface.

“I get it now; I didn’t get it then. That life is about losing and about doing it as gracefully as possible…and enjoying everything in between.”

I get it now.

I get it now.


*That is an unintentionally misleading statement. I also don’t think gossip concerning people you do know belongs anywhere in your life. But, if we’re being honest here (and I’m always being honest here) my psyche is stuck in constant turmoil between being Cady Heron Before and Cady Heron after. It’s a process.