Pedant Ethics And Name Autonomy

I have a dog in this hunt, in a way. I began my school career being lectured by the Catholic teachers of Arlington, Massachusetts that I was mistaken about my name being “Jack.” No, I was told, that’s just what your parents call you, dear. Your name is JOHN. There is no such name as “Jack.” Being ornery pretty much out of the womb, I refused to answer to “John” in class leading to several contentious meetings between my father (who was also named “Jack,” not “John”) and successive grade teachers. He always brought my birth certificate and a stern lecture about not making unwarranted presumptions that were none of their damn business, and I had to endure several weeks of dirty looks until my natural charm won over my teachers’ disdain.

As in the case of my teachers, the idiot who wrote Ms. Rea was both presumptuous and wrong. She had written,

Why thank you! Now shut the hell up! Continue reading

Down The Rabbit Hole Again With Hank

Forgive Hank, sir....he only watches TV, and besides, he's a twit.

Forgive Hank, sir….he only watches TV, and besides, he’s a twit.

Another day, another annoying Washington Post TV review from Hank Stuever. When I last checked in on Hank as he was practicing his craft, he was ridiculing the concept of young parents committing to the care of an unplanned baby without considering abortion. Today, he’s just trying to make his readers as ignorant as he is.

I suppose there no requirement that a TV critic be conversant in literature…but there should be. All drama and entertainment is constrcted on the foundation of the stories and traditions that came before them, and while one can critique popular culture while being ignorant of everything between Beowulf and All in the Family, one cannot do so competently or professionally, both of which, as the TV critic for a major newspaper, Stuever is obigated to do. This is especially true when he presumes to critique a new TV show based on literature, however lightly, as  ABC’s new “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland” is.

Right off the bat, Hank lets us know that he knows diddly about Lewis Carroll’s strange and wonderful classic, getting “Alice in Wonderland” confused with its (equally brilliant) sequel “Through the Looking Glass.”  Hank speaks of “Lewis Carroll’s 1865 story of Alice, the girl who stepped through the Looking Glass and saw all those freaky things — rabbits, Mad Hatters, worms, Cheshire cats, etc.”  But Alice never saw any of those things when she stepped through the looking-glass, for that is a different book. “Rabbits, Mad Hatters, worms, Cheshire cats, etc.” were encountered by Alice when she fell down the rabbit hole, one the few things the Disney animated version got right. (By “worms” I’m guessing Hank ie referencing the hookah-smoking caterpillar, which is not a worm. Does Stuever know? Is he just showing contempt for the book and its characters? As Hank would undoubtedly say, “Whatever.”) Continue reading