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It is that When Harry Met Sally question–can men and women really be just friends?

Harry says no. “The sex part always gets in the way,” he says.

‘He does everything a boyfriend would do and gets no benefits.’ As if the only reason to be a good friend or a decent…human is if you get something in exchange.

I have always rolled my eyes at the idea of “the friendzone.” However, it was only until I encountered it firsthand—that is, as the alleged heartless and manipulative girl who led him on—that I realized how very problematic this concept is.

I understand the pain of rejection. I understand how frustrating it is to be turned down by that special person. I understand how and why this can lead to bitterness and resentment.

However, I think that the concept of “the friendzone” is dangerous. It encourages people to believe that if they are “nice” to someone, then they are entitled to not only their kindness, respect, and love, but their bodies. It promotes sex as something that people, most often women, owe to any individual who is “good” to her. And this is a crucial point that Dylan Garity makes in his spoken word poem, “Friend Zone.” In other words, it is very possible that the concept of the friendzone can potentially encourage rape culture.

 We all know the statistics. Your rapist is more likely to be someone that you know. The boogie man, the stranger in the alley is real but not as real as we are. We all know the statistics but we don’t know how to accept how easily we become part of the problem. You cannot kill a monster until you are willing to see it in the mirror…until you recognize its shape in your own skin.

This poem really touches upon some interesting and important points, and it is definitely worth watching. Be sure to watch it from beginning to end!

 

Post submitted by JoAnna

Atavism

Noun

Pronunciation: [/ˈætəvɪz(ə)m/]

Definition: Resemblance to grand-parents or more remote ancestors rather than to parents; tendency to reproduce the ancestral type in animals or plants.

Sample Sentence: Some mysterious atavism—some strange recurrence to a primitive past.

“Sitting pretty”

Definition: In a favorable position.

Sample Sentence: Very soon, our student rep will be sitting pretty.

“Mom, I want to say this before it’s too late. I love you.”

This was one text message sent by a student to her mother as she was trapped on the ferry that sank off the coast of South Korea earlier this week. She is among the 290 people, mostly high school students, who are still missing.

It freaks me out to imagine myself a few hours before certain death. But the thought makes its way into my mind from time to time, and I can’t help but explore the idea. Who would I contact? What would I say? What would I think? What would I regret?

I would probably vomit. But I would also try to use the opportunity to reach out to all of the people who have made an impression on me throughout my life. I would definitely tell them that I love them. But I also like to think that I would have the time and the mental strength to comfort the people I would be leaving behind. To tell them that it’s OK. To bring up the last thing we laughed about and laugh one more time, or to recall the last thing we fought about and laugh about that, too.

No one wakes up thinking they’re going to experience a life-threatening disaster. It could happen to you or me just as easily as it happened to the Korean students on that ferry, on a normal day, just a few miles away from home, in the middle of a pleasant conversation. I like to think that I’m slightly prepared to send my potentially last text.

What would you say in yours?

Post submitted by Jacob.

“Trump card”

Definition: In general, something capable of making a decisive difference when used at the right moment. (In certain card games, trump is the suit designated as having precedence over the others).

Sample Sentence: The presidents’ veto is just a glorified trump card.

Descry

Verb

Pronunciation: [/dɪˈskraɪ/]

Definition:

1. To cry out, declare, make known, bewray.

2. To cry out against, cry down, decry.

Sample Sentence: It is wrong to condemn and descry others for the same faults one has.

accident

Last Thursday, tragedy struck when a FedEx truck collided with a charter school bus full of LA high school students.  The result was explosive and, for ten people inside the vehicles, proved to be fatal.

Here is what reporters know:

A CHP dispatcher says the bus and truck were on opposite sides of the freeway when the truck crossed a grass median and slammed into the bus, causing an explosion and fire.

Investigators say the truck driver might have been trying to avoid a passenger car that was also involved in the crash, which shut down north- and south-bound traffic on the freeway…

A first responder who helped set up a triage at the scene said 36 or 37 people received injuries ranging from severe to minor burns, broken legs and noses and head lacerations…

Wyman [with the Orland Volunteer Fire Department] said when he drove a water truck to the highway, both the bus and truck were fully engulfed in flames, sending thick, dark smoke into the air.

This tragic event closely followed news I’d received a few weeks earlier of the death of a high school friend, who was killed in a car accident.  I suppose this is one of the reasons why I am so shocked and devastated to hear about what has happened.

It is inevitable in light of death for us to consider how it clings to us.  Only one thought floods my mind: so stupid.  So, so stupid.  Maybe that’s not the right word to use, but all I could think of was the waste of life– beautiful, precious life– and what made it even more frustrating was that I really have no one to blame.  There is no simple black-and-white answer of what someone did or didn’t do (in these cases, these someones being the FedEx driver and my friend’s friend who was driving) that directly caused these things to happen, but perhaps it is better that way.  Only one thing is certain: these people are gone.  I am still trying to make sense of what has happened, and I constantly catch myself drifting… feeling distant from even my closest friends, lacking the motivation or desire to dedicate myself to my work, unable to find the words to properly express the turmoil that simultaneously rages and trickles inside me.  Far from reaching a sense of peace in either situation, I know that much time will pass before I am able to accept what has happened–to these ten people, and to my friend.

You can read the latest news on the event here.

 

Post submitted by Michelle

 

Presage

Verb

Pronunciation: [/priˈseɪdʒ/]

To constitute a supernatural sign of (a future event); to be an omen of, to portend.

Sample Sentence: Empty slots in the zodiac presage no good.

“Two shakes of a lamb’s tail”

Definition: Something that can be done very quickly.

Sample Sentence: Don’t worry, cleaning my room is like two shakes of a lamb’s tail.

RD7001 - Roald Dahl - Matilda - This child seems to be interested in everything - Limited Edition Print - Quentin Blake Print - Matilda Signed Print .jpg

As a child I gobbled down books like it was going out of style, and Matilda was a story that I came back to over and over again. What can I say? I secretly WAS Matilda, staking out by a window and sitting to read on an uncomfortable cushioned seat (thinking the idea was romantic).

Roald Dahl has created a number of well-known children’s books (James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG, The Witches to name a few) and what makes them so intriguing to me, even at this age, is the humor and aspects of horror that lie beneath the plot.

Following the idea of an individual who doesn’t comes from the best circumstances and challenging them to prevail, Dahl often employs some rather morbid punishments to antagonists or any other by-standing characters that get in the way of the protagonist’s goal.

If you missed the experience of reading Dahl books growing up, it’s never too late to pick one up now and try them on for size!

Here’s a review from Amazon:

Matilda is a little girl who is far too good to be true. At age five-and-a-half she’s knocking off double-digit multiplication problems and blitz-reading Dickens. Even more remarkably, her classmates love her even though she’s a super-nerd and the teacher’s pet. But everything is not perfect in Matilda’s world. For starters she has two of the most idiotic, self-centered parents who ever lived. Then there’s the large, busty nightmare of a school principal, Mrs. (“The”) Trunchbull, a former hammer-throwing champion who flings children at will and is approximately as sympathetic as a bulldozer. Fortunately for Matilda, she has the inner resources to deal with such annoyances: astonishing intelligence, saintly patience, and an innate predilection for revenge.

 

Post submitted by Kelly

“Typhoid Mary”

Definition: A person likely to cause a disaster. (From Mary Mallen, an Irish woman in the U.S. who was discovered to be a carrier of Typhoid Fever).

Sample Sentence: I don’t like the new teacher. He is a Typhoid Mary.

Phenomenology

Noun

Pronunciation:  [/fəˌnɑməˈnɑlədʒi/]

Definition: The division of any science which is concerned with the description and classification of its phenomena, rather than causal or theoretical explanation.

Sample Sentence: What people crave is the phenomenology of the home-cooked dinner: the family gathered at its own table, the familiar smells and tastes, [etc.].

This post is for those who, like me, have been struggling with getting people in our stories, etc to talk to each other. This list was created by Rob Blair and can be found in his article 9 Tricks to Make Your Dialogue More Organic

They are as follows:

1. Maintaining Multiple Threads of Dialogue

“Okay, but I don’t want to leave off this decision. This is important to me.”
“Yeah, really, I do understand. Hey, have you seen my black socks? I can’t find them anywhere.”

Regardless of what’s being discussed, it’s entirely normal for participants in a conversation to maintain multiple threads of dialogue. They can simultaneously be talking about the meaning of the life, what they had for lunch on Tuesday, and how stressed they are about homework—and none of this is seen as a contradiction. The tendency to hold together more than one topic of discussion, returning to each subject in turns (braiding the topics of conversation), is  especially prominent when characters are involved in action.

2. Mishearing People

“Am I a lion? Well, I don’t think of myself as a lion. But you might as well. I have a mighty roar.”

Firefly is one of my favorite series for demonstrating dialogue because it so often contains the quirks of real-life speech. One quirk that I love, and that I don’t see nearly enough in written dialogue, is the tendency to mishear people. This happens in real life all the time. Think back to the last time you didn’t hear someone properly, then asked them to repeat themselves or nodded along anyway. Think of the last time you asked someone a question but they clearly misheard you and answered a different question. How did you handle that? How would your character handle that?

3. Doing Things

“So, Jake. How do you, uh … meditate?”
He stabbed a potato with his fork. “You breathe,” he said, and then he popped the potato in his mouth.
I laughed. “And?”
He raised his pointer finger to indicate he was chewing. His eyes played mischievously as he took his precious time in finishing his mouthful. [...] He swallowed. “Nope, that’s it. Just breathe. Don’t move. Don’t think. Just breathe.”

It’s very rare that people stand rigid and stare at one another as they speak. In fact, since speaking occupies only our mouths, it’s more than common that we continue on other tasks while we talk. What were you doing the last time you had a long conversation? Did you organize your desk? Did you let your eyes wander around the room? Were you enjoying a pint? Were you landscaping your yard?

There are countless potential “doings” that create a frame for our “sayings.” Known to some as “talking head devices,” these contextual frames allow us to write more than two disembodied heads in endless dialogue. Just as important, the combination of action and speech more accurately reflects the world we live in.

4. Getting Sidetracked

“Yeah, I went and saw it last night with Molly and Derek.”
“It’s a pretty good movie, right? I really liked—wait, Molly and Derek? They’re not, like, dating, are they?”
“Yeah, didn’t you know? They started dating, like, a month ago. There was this huge drama with Jason when they first started going out.”
“Shit, I imagine. Shit. Well, yeah, anyway, like I was saying, I really liked the movie.”

Even in cases where the conversation is driving toward particular points, it’s common for people to get sidetracked by new information, stories, disruptions, or what’s happening outside of the dialogue. Even when the new topic or story is irrelevant to the story, allow your characters to get sidetracked. How we get distracted is often just as telling as what we are trying to say.

5. Using Body Language

I took a deep breath in. “Look, I just don’t like you hanging out with him.”
She folded her arms as her jaw clenched tight. Her eyes stayed unblinkingly on me. “Yeah?”
I broke my eyes away from her gaze. “Yeah.” I shrugged. “I don’t know why, okay? It just gives me a bad feeling.”

It’s wise to recall that as little as seven percent of our communication comes from the words we choose. The remainder comes from a combination of tone of voice, context, and body language. Often, the body language used expresses more than the words themselves.

Removing the body language from the example above, can you guess at the emotions of the speakers? Now replace the dialogue with gibberish. Does the body language still express the emotion of the interaction? Never underestimate body language as a communicative tool.

6. Fragmenting Our Sentences

“I don’t know. It’s just, it’s like we were best friends. For such a long time. And then you meet her. Hey, I like her, okay? She’s great. And great for you. That’s pretty obvious. But I don’t hang out with you anymore. Like, ever.”

As writers, we have long been taught to write only complete sentences. Unfortunately, this can bleed over into our dialogue, where it makes it sound as if each character is deeply eloquent and confident in what they intend to say. The truth is, speaking to people is not a science: it’s an art. We typically don’t know how our sentences will end until they’ve ended. We often realize that we meant to say more, and so tack on extra details in short fragments.

Fragment your spoken sentences, and pay attention to the rhythm of each character’s speech; a pattern of fragmenting sentences into specific sizes can help you establish a character’s voice in subtle yet powerful ways.

7. Self-Interruption

“It’s more than just our history. It’s that—well, look, I’m not saying that everything I’m talking about is totally rational. I know I can get pretty emotional on stuff like this. I’ve gotten—but, do you blame me, man? She and I—I know it was four years ago—but she and I were more than just an item. We were married, man.”

Let me emphasize this again: Speaking is not a science—it’s an art. As a result, we often make wrong moves, misstep, or otherwise screw up. We have to abandon our sentences in the middle, take sudden and sharp turns in subject-matter, or otherwise find cause to interrupt the very thing we were originally trying to say.

8. Uncertainty of Facts

“It was sometime in last October. She and I had broken up two, maybe three weeks earlier. And then I saw her there.”

Have you watched the TV show Lie to Me? There’s an episode where our dearly beloved lie expert interviews a pilot who’s crashed his plane. As he discusses the events, he has trouble remembering the details of his story. The head of the airline company figures this means he’s lying. The opposite turns out to be true. When we’re speaking naturally, rather than rehearsing a constructed story, we tend to be uncertain about facts.

Let your characters be less than certain about details. Imprecision works wonders.

9. Getting Lost in Awkward Silences

“Sorry, Sam, but I just don’t like green eggs and ham,” I said.
“Oh.” He gritted his teeth, looking at me for a few seconds before he looked down at the table. He fiddled with his watch, then let his fingers trail along the wooden grain of the tabletop. I took a long, gulping sip of my milk. He squinted back up at me. “Would you like them on a train?” he asked.

We’ve all experience awkward silences, but those silences are generally omitted in writing. They can certainly be intimidating! As the author, you have to show the discomfort of the pause without boring your readers. But you can really flesh out characters by showing where the conversation breaks down, demonstrating how comfortable or uncomfortable characters are in sharing a silence, and illustrating how characters occupy their hands and minds when words fail them.


The major takeaways from these tips: People don’t speak perfectly. They stumble, fragment, and lose track of conversations. They mishear each other. They take forever in getting to the point. By using these quirks of human speech, you can create both a powerful sense of organic speech, fleshing out your characters and illuminating the way they relate to one another, all in the course of your dialogue.

Post Submitted by Kanyin

Inerrancy

Noun

Pronunciation: [/ɪnˈɛrənsɪ/]

Definition: The quality or condition of being inerrant or unerring; freedom from error.

Sample Sentence: Superstition magnifies the wisdom of our ancestors into inerrancy.

“Warp and woof”

Definition: The essential foundation or base of any structure or organization. (From weaving in which the warp and the woof make up the fabric).

Sample Sentence: Free speech is the warp and woof  of our democracy.

Many of us who were on the UCLA campus last Thursday know about the TA strike that happened. The teaching assistants who dedicate their time and energy to shaping and sharpening our minds are not paid enough. Now, here is a report (courtesy of PBS Newshour) that tells us that universities are shortchanging another group of their teaching staff: adjunct professors.

There are many questions to be raised, and the video raises them. Why exactly are adjunct professors paid so little? Why do these underpaid workers remain in these jobs for ten, fifteen years? The statement that struck me was when one of the people being interviewed said “No one forces them to be adjunct professors” and immediately I thought of the relationship between labor and capitalist, where on the surface it seems like an equal rights contract between two consenting partners but in reality, is made less equitable by virtue of labor not having much of a choice. It is sad then, that the relationship between teachers and universities is similar to that between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie.

I hope you watch the video till the end, and come up with your own opinion on the issue.

Post Submitted by Kanyin

“Yellow streak”

Definition: If someone has a yellow streak, they are cowardly about something.

Sample sentence: I think Ben has a yellow streak about scary movies, but he doesn’t want to admit it.

Deprecation

Noun

Pronunciation:  [dep-ri-keyt]

Definition: Belittlement.

Sample sentence: He was attracted to confident women; he did not find Anna’s self-deprecation appealing.

protestorHe marches down the street, one head, one sign, one voice in a wave of protestors. He chants for equality; he chants for justice. He supports The Cause. He supports The People. He marches; he chants; he supports Human Rights.

Does this make him a good person?

While I do believe that these kinds of people genuinely care about The Issues, I do not believe that their activism automatically makes them “good people.” I have personally come into contact with the most passionate of activists; and even though they publicly fight for a better world, some of them manipulate, deceive, and hurt those directly around them. Their friends. Their family. Outside, they march, they chant, and they petition for a safer, freer, and kinder world, and yet, behind closed doors, they betray their own ideals.

Disillusioned and disappointed, I’ve begun to realize more and more that not all people are who they appear to be. In other words, I have come to see that all people have a public and private self. Publicly, some people may present themselves as respectful. Compassionate. Generous. Privately, however, some people may actually be inconsiderate. Apathetic. Greedy. The disillusionment that I’ve been feeling has forced me to reconsider my conception of what it means to be a (truly) good person.

So, I would like to ask you, reader? What do you think it means to be a good person?

 

Post submitted by JoAnna

“Salty dog”

Definition: An experienced sailor.

Sample sentence: Jim was a salty dog; he practically grew up in a boat.

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