Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Fourth for Bridge (Not to Mention a Second and Third)

Ever since I saw images of well-dressed suburban '50s couples getting tipsy and playing Bridge I've wanted to join in the fun. The problem is that very few people play bridge anymore, and those that do are deadly serious about it.

Imagine my surprise and delight to learn that three people I work with have been dying to play bridge again...but they didn't have a fourth! I said I'd be happy to play, with the caveat that I've never played before and never got past chapter two of the "how to play bridge" book. They said that's okay. I said maybe we should hold off until I've read the REST of the book, and they said no, they'll teach me. I said I've never played any "trick" card games in my life. They said that's okay.

I sort of feel like I'm entering a Scrabble championship without knowing how to spell, but it's all about bettering myself. Right? RIGHT?

As an aside I notice that I've lost some basic English knowledge while writing these blog entries. I'm occasionally confusing my homonyms and not realizing it until later. Maybe it's because I'm trying to write quickly, or because my job involves writing all day and I'm fatigued when I get home. Or maybe I have a degenerative brain disease.

As a further aside my work has already directly affected my writing. 8 months of writing manuals has broken me of most of the habits I spent decades reinforcing. It's a struggle now to type "colour" instead of "color." I automatically use the Oxford comma and use only one space after a period. I'm becoming a drone.


Anonymous said...

Wait a minute--your write all day and then write some more? You have it bad--and good for you.

That Oxford comma--and students in America would not know what the f**k you're talking about--causes more trouble than it's worth. By the time students here get used to writing "eats, shoots, and leaves," they hypercorrect and start producing "ham, and eggs" and "pork, and beans." (Between you and I, hypercorrection is a major pain.)

Ask your bridge-playing friends which James Bond novel involves a villain who cheats at bridge.

Herr Professor Erik Klein

P.S. Moonraker

Anonymous said...

Fortunately I'm not yet guilty of "pork, and beans" (maybe because there aren't many beans in our products), but I AM guilty of hypercorrecting commas in general. I've always been comma crazy -- probably because I tried to write the way that people talked -- but the first thing I was told to do in this job was to REMOVE most of my commas.

So now I instinctually put in lots of commas, then freak out and remove them all, and then put SOME of them back in the second draft.

And you know, I WILL ask them your Bond trivia question...I bet they'll know too.

Also, which Bond film am I supposed to watch?

Anonymous said...

Interesting that you love delving into old issues of the magazine whose editor and founder, Harold Ross, would engage in titantic battles over commas with James Thurber, among others.

By the way, you have absolutely NOTHING to apologize for in your writing, on any level. (That last comma, for instance, is purely stylistic.)

The movie I suggested was "From Russia, With Love," because it's the most "realistic" of the Connery movies--and because Robert Shaw is such a great villain. Unfortunately, none of the bridge strategy in the novel "Moonraker" made it to the film. A shame, because one thing Fleming did well was explaining otherwise dull games--baccarat, golf, bridge--and make them exciting.

"Strict rules of golf, Goldfinger."

Anonymous said...

"From Russia, With Love" will be the first movie I watch in my new apartment!

I think the closest I've ever come to a Bond-type novel was one of Peter O'Donnell's "Modesty Blaise" books, which was lots of fun, but I can't find his other books around here. I think I find a "Modesty" more intriguing than a "Bond, James Bond." Unless we're talking about Monica Vitti in the movie, which was a completely different (wonderful) breed altogether!

Yes The New Yorker is weirdly anal and consistent in its style. When I first started reading it (late at night while I worked at a coffee shop) I was baffled by the repeated vowel style: "coƶperate." Stuffy and silly but somehow endearing at the same time.