Monday, February 4, 2008

Identity Theft, Vampires, Grammar, Warm Milk, Obama

a few amusing things:

A story about a woman who stole someone else's identity to... take the GED and SAT and then apply to and attend Columbia and Harvard? ... wow, a criminal who values higher education, kinda nice. The article makes some implication that the thief also murdered her victim, but it's all very vague. The reason I bring it up is that her ex-boyfriend says the con claimed to be a semi professional chessplayer, but that he stopped believing this after he beat her. I have a related story.

Many years ago (circa... 1993?), I wrote an article for Chess Chow (remember that magazine?) somewhat faecetiously titled "Why It Is Better To Date Strong Chessplayers." I was 18 at the time and a freshman at Duke: young, naive, rosy-cheeked, etc. The article described a date I went on the night before, in which I accidentally admitted that I played chess reasonably well. This assertation immediately transformed my charming, witty, conversationally-skilled date into a drooling competitive animal. I really can't describe him in any other terms. We played a few games, and he got more and more upset until he was basically saying he wouldn't let me leave until he won a game. I'm sure he wasn't serious, but the point is that at some moment I caved. I faked a chess game. I lost on purpose. Honestly, I just didn't see a better way out of the situation.

Keep in mind that I had not yet lived in New York, and consequently was not yet the assertive woman I am today. I did not yet enjoy laughing at people and telling them to fuck off.

Which reminds me of an amusing little side-story about the time I brought a non-chess-playing boyfriend to the New York State Championship maybe three years ago, when it was last held in some nice "spa-like" resort. So I'm playing and about move twenty the boyfriend comes up and whispers conspiratorially, "I like how you have all your pieces in the second quadrant." I just nod and put my finger to my lips, but my opponent has seen us talking and is immediately suspicious. Luckily, it didn't take a lot of explaining.

anyway... that was a long, pretty random tangent. Second amusing tidbit: those eco-friendly Europeans. I admire them, all using their creativity to save the planet.

third thing: I'm an English teacher in my spare time; I have a hilarious class of 34 gifted 13 year olds. One girl is completely obsessed by vampires. She's an exemplary writer (esp of teenage vampire fiction) but refuses to use most forms of punctuation for (what I'm assuming are) rebellious teenage reasons. So I ordered a book, which arrived today, called The Transitive Vampire: A Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed. I really can't stop laughing. Some examples from the section on restrictive vs. nonrestrictive clauses:

"If an adjective clause can be left out without altering the meaning of the sentence, it is nonrestrictive. If the clause is essential to the meaning, it is restrictive.

The hand that is languishing on the windowsill once was mine. (restrictive)
The marks that are fading on my throat are not fresh. (restrictive)
The specter that is lurching down the street is my pal. (restrictive)

The languishing hand, which was once mine, applauded. (nonrestrictive)
The marks, which are not fresh, were caused by neither man nor beast. (nonrestrictive)
Only a person who loves gargoyles can love human beings. (nonrestrictive)"

and the sentence-combining exercises:

"The megolomaniac was scudding. He crossed the vestibule. His harem was waiting for him. They were in an uproar.

suggested answer: "His harem awaiting him in an uproar, the megalomaniac scuddled across the vestibule."

"She was lying. She was dreaming. Her dreams were of biceps and divorce. She was in her rickety garret. It was crawling with rats."

suggested answer: "Dreaming of biceps and divorce, she lay in her rickety garret, which was crawling with rats."

Beautiful.

last thing: new genre: Obama political music video directed by Bob Dylan's son Jesse and featuring Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Scarlett Johnassen

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth: We just finished watching the Yes We Can video and recommend this one. Not as musical but really well done by a brilliant Stanford Law Professor:
http://lessig.org/blog/2008/02/20_minutes_or_so_on_why_i_am_4.html

Tom Panelas said...

I see your point.

anjiaoshi said...

That third "nonrestrictive" clause is actually restrictive. I'm surprised. I wouldn't expect such a mistake from Karen Elizabeth Gordon, who is a twisted genius. (That was a nonrestrictive clause.)

Brennan Price said...

My fiancee is a non-chessplayer. While she puts up with me spending a half hour or so each day on my correspondence games, she has made me promise never to take her to a chess tournament. Which means that we will have at least one separate vacation each year.

My favorite opponents are those who have beaten most of the people they've played in their lives and therefore *think* they're really good. When they face a tournament player for the first time, even a lowly C player like me, they are usually in for a shock. Your Duke-era date probably fell into this category. The good thing about tournament play is that reminds you that you *can* lose, and although you don't have to like it, you shouldn't act like a $#!+ because of it.

Greg K. said...

I had no idea you went to Duke! I was class of '93, so we just missed overlapping. Too bad -- we really could have used you on our chess team (such as it was).

Check2Check said...

"Keep in mind that I had not yet lived in New York, and consequently was not yet the assertive woman I am today. I did not yet enjoy laughing at people and telling them to fuck off." -I LOL'd!

I've always had a sneaking suspicion that living in a city as intense as New York would bend even the strongest of wills. Interestingly enough a friend of mine recently moved from Indianapolis to Brooklyn and I'm curious to see if she will succumb...