Ode to Bill O’Reilly: The Namby-Pamby Factor

Now, mind you, I can’t stand Bill O’Reilly or his arrogance-laden show, “The O’Reilly Factor,” but I’m so into gone-missing Malaysian Air Flight 370 that I’m forced to watch Fox News, which seems to be obsessing over the incident. The channel is almost a 24/7 source of breaking information about the ill-fated Boeing 777.

Anyway, the transparently arrogant O’Reilly ended his show by challenging his viewers’ knowledge of the word namby pamby. Cuz, he said, he didn’t want any namby-pamby emails or letters sent to him (he’s too good to deal with gentle folk, evidently).

So I went to dictionary dot com and looked up namby pamby, and lo and behold, it means exactly what I thought it meant, which is “weak and indecisive.” That O’Reilly isn’t, but if he had to go “weak and indecisive” to learn some humility, I’d be all for it.

But I bloviate, I guess — another O’Reilly arrogant-ism. You can look that one up and determine if it “takes one to know one.”

Hie Ye to Riverside for the Dickens Festival

Dickens-Festival-Riverside
‘Trial of Jack the Ripper’ held on the steps of the Riverside County Courthouse as part of Dickens Festival.

I literally stumbled upon Riverside’s 21st annual Dickens Festival while I was downtown for a BLT and IPA (both yummy).

The festival is replete with costumed Dickensian characters and stagings of scenes from Dickens’ many works.

The festival covers about three blocks of booths, food, fun and camaraderie. If you’re anywhere near Riverside, I highly recommend that you “hie” yourself to the city before 5 p.m. Sunday (Feb. 23).

I’m right now attempting to buy tickets to the event’s Tea Time Tasties and Show with Mr. Treacle.

Lost in Transition

I‘ve changed hosting companies and WordPress themes so many times that I’ve lost track, but in the process, I never thought that transitioning my site would result in textual errors.

While going through my articles section, I saw that a weird typographical symbol had inserted itself wherever there was more than one space between sentences or words.

Lesson number one: In the electronic media era, using two spaces between sentences is out because of font issues. It still works on typewriters, but who besides morticians use typewriters these days?

Anyway, I’ve cleaned up the articles (let me know if I missed anything), and soon I hope to get back to creating some new — and perhaps more useful — articles on English writing, grammar and usage.

If you have topics, just use Contact Me and share them with me.

Does One ‘Debut’ or ‘Make a Debut’?

I found a headline today on AOL a bit wordy and awkward. It said, “NYC Mayor Makes Debut on ‘The Daily Show’.”

So that had me scrambling to the dictionary to see if I have been erroneously using debut as a verb all these years.

Turns out, debut is both noun and verb, but I still prefer the verb version over “makes debut,” even though there’s nothing wrong with that usage.

As Kornheiser and Wilbon would say, “Big deal, small deal or no deal?”

Lunar Festival: Halloween in January?

Lunar-Festival-Riverside-2014
Fireworks above the Chinese Pavilion in Riverside during the 2014 Lunar Festival.

On Saturday, I stumbled on the Lunar Festival in downtown Riverside.

Probably what most of us traditionally equate with a lunar festival is Chinese New Year’s, but every Asian country has its own celebration. Really, it’s an expression of joy that spring — along with bountiful new food crops — is just around the corner.

So as I peered into the crowd, I kept wondering why the teens and 20somethings came as if it were Halloween. Here was Batman wondering out loud, “Where is the Green Arrow?” who then dutifully showed up with a bow and arrow with a green lighted tip. Batwoman wasn’t far behind, but Robin seemed mysteriously missing, given the context.

As I continued peering, I noticed countless Cinderellas, Alices in Wonderland, cats, indescribable comic book characters and one lone samurai.

At least the samurai would have some connection with the lunar festival in Japan, during which he might get drunk or enjoy some blood sport like toppling a shogun and his minions.

Anyway, the fireworks at night were nice, but I think the local populace somehow confused the coming of spring with the coming of goblins and heroes.

Okay, I know, this column has nothing to do with English grammar or composition, but it says spades about what American culture — the prime user and progenitor of the English culture — has morphed into, which is, well, a comic book.

So sad.

Edward Snowden Redux

I think I miffed a lot of people and probably lost a lot of readers when last year I praised NSA secrets-leaker Edward Snowden as a “patriot” (not sure if I actually used that word, but “hero” works too).

Now I’ve finally found an ally with the same take on what he did and on its value to all of us. Through a strange twist of “politics makes for strange bedfellows,” none other than that liberal bastion The New York Times has called for Snowden’s pardon.

As the paper’s editorial summarizes, Snowden “has done his country a great service.” This too has been my essential point. Who cares if the guy is a scumbag who broke the law? What he’s done to move America forward is almost inestimable.

Read “Edward Snowden, Whistle-Blower.”