Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Parvum Opus 330 ~ Vigariously Larcenious

Who is Larcenia? what is she, that all our pols commend her?

Larcenia Bullard is a Democratic Florida state senator. Perhaps her choice of career was a foregone conclusion; her name directed her thataway. (Note: A Google search turns up other people named Larcenia. Why?)

However, her having been raised in a vocabulary-impaired home is throwing additional stumbling blocks in the path of the Florida legislature as they wrestle with the terms of a new anti-bestiality law. Larcenia thought animal husbandry had something to do with human-animal marriage.

“So that maybe was the reason the lady was so upset about that monkey?” she asked, referring to a tragic chimpanzee-killing in Connecticut.

Perhaps it won’t be long before marriage will be redefined to include human-beast marriage. As I mentioned last week in the context of pet cemeteries, many people already think of their pets as their babies. Just carry the logic a little further.

But I’m not going any further than the marriage of true minds.


Dave DaBee says, “fwiw, My dad, lover of classic cars, always said coop not coopay.” Fred also says he never heard coopay. I know I’ve heard coopay but maybe it was meant to be a joke. However, I really don’t remember hearing coop for coupe, but that means nothing.

The French have a lot to answer for.

I Get It

I’m not the earliest adopter of new technology though I don’t drag my feet forever. So when Dave DaBee jumped from blogging to Twitter, I thought that’s OK for him because he has the nervous system of a hummingbird, but I can’t work within 140 characters. But I decided I should at least know what Twitter is, so I signed up and decided to use it to announce new editions of Parvum Opus and my Amazon Kindle publications.

Monday, Twitter changed my mind about the value of this nervous little addition to our suite of communication streams. On Monday afternoon I happened to notice that the election in Iran and its subsequent riots were being reported, as far as I could tell, only via Twitter. Obviously no Western journalists were permitted to cover the news. Very little appeared on TV except for Obama’s reluctant response. Just as newspapers lag behind TV and radio, TV and radio necessarily lag behind the Internet.

People in Iran were sending out messages via Twitter and trying to keep ahead of government attempts to cut communications. They reported names of people who were shot and other news items, briefly, to be sure.

Messages were coming in the #IranElection category at the rate of about 2,000 per hour, it seemed, although many of them were from Americans and others outside Iran conveying support and information about how the Iranians could circumvent the closing of web portals.

Twitter had been scheduled to shut down that night for 90 minutes of maintenance and upgrade, but users (including me) begged them to postpone it so that the Iranians could maintain some contact with the outside world — and Twitter (and its service provider) delayed maintenance! Hooray for them!

She Got It

From Overheard in New York:

Old woman with husband, reminiscing: When I was younger I had an art degree from Cooper Union, had a fantastic graphic design job. I had a great career going for myself. And then guess what happened.
20-something girl: You got married?
Old woman, shocked: No! How old do you think I am? That we're from the 1800s? (pause) Computers. That's what happened.

They Didn’t Get It

It’s not easy keeping up with technology, so you can say almost anything if it’s said with enough assurance.

Once Fred and I drove from Boston to Cincinnati in separate vehicles, with me in the lead. Fred got pulled over by a trooper who said in New York State you can’t drive in the middle lane (huh?), plus you’re not allowed to use cell phones while driving. They discussed the lane issue but Fred was a bit vague about the phone (we talked to each other at times while driving) and somehow the trooper got the idea that we had walkie-talkies, which he thought was a good idea. Cell phone bad, walkie-talkie good. Go figure.

More recently, Fred caught some flak from a woman in the building where he works who complained that he should have opened the door for her instead of standing around sending text messages. He said, “That’s not my job, and I wasn’t texting, I was checking e-mail.” Somehow that mollified her.

They’ll Get You

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reports China's announcement that personal computers sold from July 1 must carry Internet-filtering software pre-installed by the manufacturer. Presumably hackers can find ways around this software, but most people don’t have those skills.

In the mainstream media here, the pretty young women journalists who get arrested get the most media notice, such as Roxana Saberi, Laura Ling, and Euna Lee, but CPJ reports on the many journalists imprisoned and killed all over the world. Here’s CPJ's list of "10 Worst Countries to be a Blogger":




Cuba (

Saudi Arabia






Sometimes bloggers can publish via external blog sites (such as desdecuba, “from Cuba”).

Dave Says Ugh

Dave DaBee discovered a hideous new portmanteau word, “vigariously”, reported in Trouble with “Vigorously” and “Vicariously” in Daily Writing Tips. The portmanteau word was named by Lewis Carroll in Alice in Wonderland. Portmanteau is an old-fashioned word for suitcase, and a portmanteau word packs more than one meaning in a word. It seems that vigariously is getting popular among bloggers but whether it’s from ignorance or intention is not clear, since it’s used incorrectly to mean either “vigorously” or “vicariously”, not both. The meanings of “vigorous” and “vicarious” are not even close (so it’s not truly a portmanteau word; I just wanted to bring that up). DWT says “vagariously” (with an A) is a word, meaning marked by vagaries, but it’s rare (I’ve never seen it) and isn’t the cause of this confusion. Probably one person used a word incorrectly and someone else liked the sound of it and it spread. Like a virus. Ugh.

So, You Want to Be a Writer? Movie Director? River?

Another conversation from Overheard in New York, in a coffee shop:

Guy #1: May I presuppose what I think you're trying to articulate, which is, that the core universality of your character's arc needs to be explicitly emphasized in the color palate?
Guy #2: I think that's fair, but I'm not sure you can go there with an audience.
Guy #1: But isn't the whole narrative journey bringing them there?
Guy #2: Yes and no. Essentially we can't bring them there, because we can't get there ourselves.
Guy #1: Hmmm, I'm not sure if I agree with that.
Guy #2: We can't get there. Our protagonist can't get there, he can't bring us there with him.
Guy #1: Where?
Guy #2: The river.
Guy #1: Why is he going to the river?
Guy #2: Because that's — that's — that's the thing. That's the thing he has to do. It's like, he is that river, and that's why we go to a wide-shot there.
Guy #1: I do see the wide-shot there, but I think we need more exposition for the catharsis to work.

Reminds me of the Nicolas Cage characters, twin brothers who were very different kinds of script writers, in the movie The Orchid Thief (which was quite different from the book). I’d agree that you need a whole lot more exposition to make a character be a river. Nicolas Cage 1 might say if he can be the river, the audience can be the river. Nicolas Cage 2 might say, throw him in the river with some alligators and see what happens.

Road Trip

Heading out on the highway for a few days, to Ak-Ron. See you next week at the old stand, as usual.


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Trivium pursuit ~ rhetoric, grammar, and logic, or reading, writing, and reckoning: Parvum Opus discusses language, education, journalism, culture, and more. Parvum Opus by Rhonda Keith is a publication of KeithOps / Opus Publishing Services. Editorial input provided by Fred Stephens. Rhonda Keith is a long-time writer, editor, and English teacher. Back issues from December 2002 may be found at; 2009 issues are at Feel free to e-mail me with comments or queries. The PO mailing list is private, never given or sold to anyone else. If you don't want to receive Parvum Opus, please e-mail, and I'll take you off the mailing list. Copyright Rhonda Keith 2009. Parvum Opus or part of it may be reproduced only with permission, but you may forward the entire newsletter as long as the copyright remains.

1 comment:

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Who is Larcenia? what is she, that all our pols commend her?

Larcenia Bullard is a Democratic Florida state senator. Perhaps her choice of career was a foregone conclusion; her name directed her thataway