Curmudgeonish thoughts for 2020

Pet peeves seem tiny at a time like this, but I have them nonetheless.


As years go, boy, 2020 has been one; and, as I post, its most bizarre parts may yet lie in wait. That’s why it seems a good time — as in, “the rant before the storm” — to issue my third annual edition of “Curmudgeonish thoughts,” working off the tradition (?) of the 2018 original and its 2019 sequel.

So, with my spittle fully locked and loaded, here we go, and I apologize in advance in case you’re one of the people who regularly commit any of these (shudder) and didn’t know before now that you were aggravating the pain of at least one-seven-billionth of a suffering humanity. Also, at the end, I’ll address a question that probably will be burning in your brain by that point.

Grammar gripes

  • People say, “anyways,” as if it were a reference to multiple items. The word is anyway. The meaning is of one thing — essentially, in any event — not multiple things (“in any events”?). Don’t know if this is a regionalism, but its use is widespread. And annoying.

  • Then there is “those ones” (or “these ones”); e.g., “So we’ll get to those ones in a minute.” In this, the word ones is unnecessary. Just say, “those” (or “these”).

  • I love to watch and listen to sporting events, but most sports announcers obviously never paid attention back in school when their teachers were trying to explain the objective case. Abominations like “they’re coming through the line at he and Jones” are the result. Arrrgh.1

  • Finally, the sadly ever-available More Pregnant Award goes to something else I hear all too frequently on sportscasts: “more unique.” No. Being unique is to be the only one of a kind, whatever that kind is, so it’s impossible to be more only one of a kind — or less so, for that matter. If one’s dog had grown a purple coat, that surely would be a unique dog, but it couldn’t be more so.

See spots. See spots. See spots. Et cetera.

Broadcast ad buyers of the world, I ask you: how would you feel if you were stuck on an airliner with only one magazine that had only a few advertisers and thus had the same four or five ads every few pages? Then you know how I feel when, over the course of two or three hours of watching a live broadcast (yeah, sporting event again; sorry), I see the same commercials five or six times. So help me, if I keep having to endure that Corona spot with Snoop Dogg and Bad Bunny lamely joking about the pronunciation of playa . . .2

Mind you, this doesn’t take into account the additional reality of how tired one becomes of even the cleverest Hallowe’en-themed commercials by about the first week of October or the nicest Christmas-themed commercials by about, in this day and age, the first week of November.

But, back to you ad buyers: if you can’t afford to make and place a wider variety of commercials, just save the vast sum you’re spending on broadcast spots. After the first or second viewings, the spots work against you. Contrary to the old joke, it’s not true that even a negative reaction is worse than no reaction at all. I purposely don’t spend money on products whose commercials rub me the wrong way (including making me say, “Oh, God, not again, not this soon”); and I suspect I’m not the only one who feels that way.

Like concerns

Y’know, when I was growing up, y’know, we heard over and over again that, y’know, it was really important not to, y’know, keep saying, “Y’know,” all the time. So most of us learned not to do that.

Then, one night during my daughter’s pre-driving-age teen years, I found myself having to listen to a carful of girls on the way to a birthday party as they all seemed to compete for the right to say, “I can say the word like the most often in a sentence.” Still, as I gritted my teeth during that seemingly interminable experience, I told myself, Ah, well, at least when they grow up, they’ll know better and stop that.

Oh, thou foolish man: didst thou not conceive that their entire generation not only might not ever stop it but, indeed, might double down on it? Now, whenever I tune in an unscripted riff on YouTube (as I am wont to do at times), the “like”s are flying rapidly and furiously among the Gen-Xers and millennials, mainly software developers, whose videos I typically frequent:

“Whenever I, like, decide I’m gonna, like, try this code or that code and, like, do some, like, breaking changes, I, like, think, like, what would I do if, like, y’know [yeah, that’s still around, too], I was a developer out there and, like, somebody did that to me?”

Mind you, these are extremely smart people who are doing this, and — perhaps even more aggravating — are used to listening to themselves as they edit their videos for mass consumption. I have to assume they’re simply unable to “hear” themselves say it any more. Would that I had the same ability.

Face it

Speaking of YouTube: I hope, but don’t expect, to see an end to the current trend of making each YouTube video’s title “slide” with the video’s creator making a goofy face at the camera. It doesn’t exactly spur confidence in his/her judgment about whatever the subject of the video might be, especially if it’s something that’s slightly more serious than, say, making goofy faces at the camera.


Given this horrendous year when we have seen so much pain, so much difficulty, and so much uncertainty, I am aware these nigglings on my part seem remarkably lacking in perspective. After all, if civilization itself can sometimes seem on the brink, what are a few fricking grammatical faux pas?

I agree.

However, as I indicated at the top, things may get exponentially worse in the coming weeks and months, so I figured I may as well go ahead with my third annual venting about pet peeves. Who knows whether I’ll get a fourth?

  1. At least this one is (probably) rooted in an honest attempt to do what one’s teacher once said. When we were kids, we all got called on the carpet for saying things such as “Her and me went to the store” rather than “She and I went to the store.” Unfortunately, many never got the corresponding message that there are times when it’s perfectly acceptable to say her and me, as in “Joe is going to play ‘catch’ with her and me”; instead, they thought that it’s always wrong to use paired objective-case pronouns and, thus, they ended up saying, “Joe is going to play ‘catch’ with she and I.” (If only they’d break it down to just one of the pronouns, they’d quickly realize how wrong it is to say, “Joe is going to play ‘catch’ with she” or “Joe is going to play ‘catch’ with I”; but, apparently, they rarely, if ever, do.) The unwitting grammatical malefactor’s heart perhaps was in the right place, but . . . ↩︎

  2. For those saying, “Dude, chill. Just DVR everything and then skip the commercials later,” I reiterate that these are live programs. I gave up watching most non-live television nearly a decade ago, and I rarely bother watching recordings of a game or other event where I already know how it turned out — and, almost always, I do know that. ↩︎

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