or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Open Letter

Dear Janeane:

May I call you Janeane? I know we haven't met but we're the same age and Ms. Garofalo seems awfully formal. Your call.

It's good to have you back on the radio. I adore you on The Majority Report, with your smart mouth and your take-no-prisoners attitude and your frequent use of the word "douchebag", which makes me laugh every single time--some people think it's sexist and you shouldn't use it, but pay no attention to these spoilsports, it's comedy, it kills--but you might want to fix these few little problems, okay? Okay. (I'm usually a little behind in my listening, because I download episodes from Air America Place and listen to them when I can, but I finally caught up while you were taping episodes of "The West Wing". Maybe while you were out in Hollywood you cleaned these things up, in which case you have my apologies.)

Clearly you're very intelligent but for some reason you absolutely cannot pronounce the word "Manichaean" properly, and you use it on such a regular basis that I'd have thought someone would have clued you into the correct pronunciation by now, but no luck. It isn't "muh-NEE-chee-un": it's "man-uh-KEE-un". (And you use it correctly--as you know, it means "dualistic"--so you might as well pronounce it correctly, too.) You have a few pronunciations (regionalisms, I assume) that are very cute--"forward" sounds like "fo'ward" and "since" comes out sounding like "sense"--but this not one of them: it's just wrong.

A new usage (you've started using it only recently) is the phrase "the thing is is", as if "thing is" were a single word or phrase that meant "point" and therefore, being a noun, required a verb. I know where you got it from, mind you. You didn't invent it: it's called the "double is" and it stems from the phrase "what that is, is...", which is superficially similar but actually very different from a grammatical point of view. "The thing is is" is wrong (whereas "what that is, is" is correct), and you shouldn't say it, because there's no point in giving detractors free ammunition. (Your co-host Sam Seder has recently been doing it, too. Did you give it to him, or did he give it to you? You both started doing it very recently, because believe me, I would have noticed it earlier.) The correct phrase is "the thing is..." (or "the problem is..." or "the fact is" or whatever).

And while you're at it, check out this posting--not "NEG-luh-zhunt", "NEG-luh-jent", hard "g" in the third syllable, it's a standard pronunciation--and also this one--the word "media" is plural, not singular, and takes a plural noun: "the media are...." Otherwise, really, you're golden, I could listen to you all day, I love The Matchmaker and The Truth About Cats and Dogs and Romy and Michelle and have them all on DVD, I'm even trying to figure out a way to download or otherwise see Nadine in Dateland. Keep up the good work, and deal with those little verbal tics, okay? Thanks so much.


Your ardent fan,


(P.S. I'm serious about "douchebag", particularly when you pause for effect and split it venomously into "douche...bag". If you decided to just call all the bad guys that for an entire episode--"Bill Frist may have flip-flopped on stem-cell research, but he's still a douchebag", "that Machiavellian douchebag Karl Rove"--well, that would suit me just fine, because it's hilarious.)


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