Sunday, June 08, 2008


I've been indulging in a DVD-fest of a BBC show named "Torchwood", a spinoff from "Doctor Who". It's one of those shows/movies that is so bad it's good. It's been called the "Doctor Who for Adults" and "MI-5 On Speed". Low-budget, silly plots, sex everywhere with everyone--like a soap opera, but with aliens. And starring John Barrowman, a not-very-good actor, but just amazing to look at. He looks like a handsome Tom Cruise. I've always seen something feral in Cruise; Barrowman looks like a young gay Superman. Watching "Torchwood" is just another way to waste time. But there are some very funny moments in this series. Here I've rented the first season at $4 a pop and then found the episodes are on YouTube. I know it isn't legal. But it's so convenient. And it's probably not mentally healthy. But better than network shows.

I confess to being a lover of language. Watching my two-year old grandson learn to speak is just amazing to me. First he found his important nouns. Then a few verbs, then simple combinations. Now he's stringing them together artfully. His older sister has always been subtle. She is very circumspect about what she needs or wants, even with people she knows well, so her language development took a very different curve. She still has a slight speech impediment that is endearing: to say "rolling around on the grass", she says "wolling awound on the gwass". And still calls the TV remote the "merote". Despite these child speech patterns, she has always been like a very cute little old lady. She's prissy and meticulous with her dolls and clothing.

My grandson is direct and stubborn. If you don't understand him, he just keeps going until you (silly adult) get it. At two years old, he's bigger than his petite five-year old sister. His voice is very low and has a drone to it. I think he'll inherit his grandfather and father's "Big Voice", as we call it.

I work with a lot of African-American women. The language I hear daily varies from almost King's English to Hood and Luisiana patois. And the residents of Berkeley I deal with daily are from every background imaginable. Still, the tiring part of my job is the inner politics. Like walking on eggshells. I try to avoid the gossip but it is everywhere. I have, finally, learned to take gossip with a grain of salt. I should gobble up every bit of intersting language I hear and hoard it. My latest favorite is from Terry Pratchett's "Witches Abroad" in which he describes the understanding of human nature as "thinkology".