The YouTube Guide to English or When Bad Grammar Gets Worser

The YouTube Guide to English

If ever you want to see what English grammar, spelling, and punctuation will look like the day after the apocalypse, just read the comments section of pretty much any pop culture-related video posted on YouTube. (That’s provided the uploader of the video has allowed comments.)

Before the advent of the World Wide Web, there was only printed media, which was checked by editors and sub-editors for errors prior to publication. But the Internet has for the most part removed that gauntlet of scrutiny. Now anyone, even the borderline illiterate, can post comments that are read by thousands, millions. One person’s bad English usage habits can become the bad English usage habits of a teeming multitude. For example, how many times have you seen disappoint spelled dissapoint or read a post by somebody who was afraid he was going to loose all his money? Websurfers see. Websurfers do.

Thanks to the popularity of blogs, online forums, and social media, where the demand for decent English is, well, low, basic literacy skills are tumbling into the abyss. And nowhere have they tumbled faster than on YouTube. We’re going to look at a couple of YouTube comments and see whether they can be rewritten into something approaching readable, logical English. We could leave them as is, but why let dirt lie when you’ve got a vacuum cleaner?

The Past and Future Chicken

Don’t spend too long reading this first comment. You might catch dyslexia. 

i once had a eaten a chicken tommorrrow it was lovley i had it with rice and some sause yumyum

The author combines the future tense and the past tense in a way that defies all known rules of grammar. His flagrant disregard for proper spelling and anything vaguely resembling punctuation only adds to the confusion in meaning here. He is eating a chicken tommorrrow; it was lovley. How does he know the chicken is lovely if he hasn’t eaten it? Perhaps he purchased, or is planning to purchase, a chicken from a vendor whose chickens he knows from experience are delicious and thus is so sure it will be a lovely chicken that he writes of its loveliness in the past tense. Anyway, here is our redacted version.

I’m going to eat a chicken with rice and sauce tomorrow. It should be yummy.

Yummy isn’t the greatest choice of words, but this is a YouTube comment after all, so we don’t want to stray too far from the vernacular. More relaxed English, as opposed to deceased English, is fine in informal contexts such as an online message board posting or a YouTube comment.

The Least Cigarette Is the Most Cigarette

This next and final comment is deceptive. At first glance there doesn’t appear to be that much wrong with it in comparison to the previous comment. But like a Jackson Pollock, the closer you look at it, the more befuddling it gets.

It is one of the least substances but its nor harmless it does damage unless you don’t inhale its rare to get mouth cancer and throat cancer, same goes with cigars and cigarettes. 

The topic being commented on is the demon weed, Marjorie-Anna. The author, despite tossing in the contradictory preposition nor, which is probably just a typo of not, seems to be saying that a joint is the least harmful type of cigarette. He adds that it can harm you if you inhale [its smoke], but you’re not likely to get mouth or throat cancer if you don’t.

The problem here is that the lack of punctuation, though he does include a comma just to be on the safe side, has turned what should have been two or even three sentences into one big run-on sentence.  Reading stream-of-consciousness sentences like this is almost as tiring as reading all six volumes of Gibbons’ The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in one sitting.

The only way to see clearly the author’s meaning is to hose off his reeking syntax.

Marijuana is one of the least harmful substances you can smoke. But it can harm you if you inhale it. As with smoking cigarettes and cigars, though, it’s rare to get mouth or throat cancer if you don’t inhale. 

So there we have it, bad English chopped, bent, and twisted into better English.

That’s two atrociously written YouTube comments down, 948,573,621 to go.

Would You Like a Cherry With That?

Would you like a cherry with that?

Coffee and cherries? It’s not the typical combination that springs to mind when you think of the hallowed bean, like coffee and cream, coffee and sugar, or even coffee and donuts. But coffee and cherries have a surprising and intrinsic connection. As a matter of fact, without cherries there would be no coffee.

You see, the coffea plant, from which coffee beans are grown, produces small cherry-like fruit, or coffee cherries as they’re known in the trade, and it’s these cherries that contain coffee beans. Actually, they’re coffee seeds, not coffee beans, and the cherries are more like berries, but who’s arguing?

A Humble Beginning

The coffee cherry is initially a yellow fruit that turns cooking apple green as it slowly matures and then fire-engine red when it’s fully ripe and ready to be picked. Removing the green coffee seeds from the cherries isn’t as easy as you would think, owing to all the sticky gunk inside the fruit. First, the cherries have to be pulped and then washed thoroughly in water. Then they’re left to ferment, a process that eliminates the fruit’s gummy inner layer. Next, the seeds are washed, then dried and, finally, hulled.

A Tasty End

Now comes the part where the green coffee seeds are transformed, as if by magic, into the black coffee beans that coffee drinkers everywhere know and love and consume in copious quantities. This involves roasting the seeds. Raw seeds would make the coffee so tart you’d gag if you drank it, so roasting is a vital step and, understandably, good for sales. As the seeds are being roasted, moisture is drawn from them. This dries the seeds, which expand from the heat. Some of the sugars in the seeds turn into gas, while others liquefy, giving the coffee beans their singular flavor. It is during this last stage that the seeds change from green to black.

So there you have it. Coffee beans start out as sticky green seeds encased in cherry-like berries. Coffee, like life, is just chock-full of surprises. Now for a cup of hot fresh-roasted. Say, would you like a cherry with that?

Turning the Tables on Phone Scammers

Turning the tables on nuisance callers

Back in the days of pet rocks and Disco Duck a nuisance caller was somebody who rang you at random to play a harmless if mildly offensive joke on you. This was a common one:

YOU: Hello?

NUISANCE CALLER: Are the walls there?

YOU: Sorry, there’s no walls here.

NUISANCE CALLER: Then what’s holding up the (rhymes with “trucking”) place? 

And that, apart from the odd ghastly revelation about your parents’ sexual proclivities, was pretty much the extent of the average nuisance call.

But that was then.

Nowadays, nuisance callers have traded their vaudeville routines for money-making scams. Standard operating procedure when dealing with phone scammers is to tell them to go forth and multiply or, if you’ve come down with a bout of politeness, that you’re not interested and then hang up. But where’s the fun in that? These plonkers have invaded the sanctity of your home like a golf ball crashing through your bathroom window and that demands a much more forceful response from you than a simple get the raw-bodies-wriggling out of here. That demands payback!

This is how you get it, and then some.

When “Microsoft” Calls

The phone rings. You pluck it out of its cradle and issue your customary greeting. There is a familiar pause at the other end that tells you you’re about to speak with one of the moral paragons from an Indian or Filipino call center. The individual will state he’s from Microsoft and that he’s calling to inform you that the malware equivalent of Chernobyl has secreted itself in an obscure nook of your computer and that if it isn’t removed, stat, your vital organs will liquefy and the moon will rear-end the earth, or something to that effect. The scammer will then advise you to download special software that will fix the problem by stealing your bank account and credit card details. Although in his haste to make the world a brighter place for you and your beloved PC, he’ll neglect to mention the bit about stealing.

The key to exacting revenge on these bogus Microsoft representatives is to keep them on the line for as long as possible. That way the call costs them more and you waste their “valuable” time. To do this, you must first express deep concern that a binary demon has possessed your computer’s operating system. This will convince the phone scammer he has a live one and encourage him to continue with the call.

Say What?

There are all sorts of ways you can string him along, but if you want to have fun right from the get-go, tell him (or her) he’ll have to speak up because you’re hard of hearing. This is sure to go down a treat with his cohorts who have to work within earshot of him. After he’s introduced himself, you can go to town on him with questions like: You’re from where? My what is soft? Don’t overdo it, though. If he thinks you’re too deaf or too stupid to let him complete the scam, he’ll hang up on you.

When he breaks the bad news to you that your PC has the clap, so to speak, gasp in shock and say something along the lines of: Oh no, what am I going to do? I do all of my banking and share trading on my computer. If somebody gets hold of my account details and passwords, I stand to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars! Then address him by his first name and ask: Can you help me? Funnily enough he’ll be only too happy to render you assistance.

The scammer will then advise you to visit a website where the life-saving medicine for your moribund PC, in the form of an executable file, awaits you. The file, if opened, will install malware on your computer that will purloin your passwords and banking information so fast you’ll hear a sonic boom. Don’t go to the website. That would be like asking Jerry Lewis to perform delicate brain surgery. Not a good idea.

Whatever the phone scammer tells you to do, repeat it back to him but put a comic twist on it. For example, if he tells you to open your browser, say: You want me to rouse her? If he tells you to right click, say: I’m a right what? And so on and so forth. He might get fed up with all of this and cut the call short, but the lure of those “hundreds of thousands of dollars” will probably persuade him to do otherwise.

The Coup de Grace

When you get to the point where you’re supposed to visit the website, make out you’re following his instructions. You have a number of fun options here. You can:

  • Tell him you have to go because the cops have just rocked up at your call center to arrest you for running an Internet scam.
  • Tell him you’ve received an illegal software message from Microsoft, which has shut down your PC until you install a genuine copy of Windows 8.
  • Tell him you already have that software on your computer, since a kind gentleman from the Philippines got you to download it last week and it’s working beautifully.
  • Ask him how long he can stay on the phone, because the scam-busting team from Interpol needs more time to trace his call.

And then hang up.

Revenge exacted.

Ten Items to Pack in Your Suitcase for When Aliens Abduct You

ten items to pack in your suitcase for when aliens abduct you

Alien abductions have reached epidemic proportions. Just ask George Noory or anyone who works for the History Channel. When aliens come a calling it’s never by appointment. They won’t even send you a courtesy text to let you know they’re on their way, which is understandable considering the criminally steep cell phone charges in their neck of the cosmos.

So what do you do when they materialize in your bedroom like almond-headed wraiths or beam you out of your rattling pick-up on an Ozarks back road in the dead of night? The answer is nothing, since you won’t have time. That’s why it’s important you’re already packed and ready to go.

Here are ten important items you must take with you.

1. Passport

You’ll need this if your abductors take you to Venus, where customs laws are positively Stalinesque. Upon arrival you’ll be frisked vigorously by a multi-tentacled zlarp, which looks like a cross between a bilious green Humboldt squid and a piano accordion.

Ensure you have no M&M’S on your person. It is a capital crime to bring them into Venus. This law was enacted after one of the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s three heads exploded while he was tucking into a family-size bag.

2. Coconut Oil

Anal probes are out and nostril probes are in. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the probes are covered in a gummy substance that makes your nose hairs stick to them like barnacles to the Titanic. This makes extracting them pure torture. Your eyes will water for days.

A liberal smear of coconut oil in each nostril will eliminate this problem. What’s more, coconut oil is an extremely valuable commodity on many alien worlds, which puts you in a tremendous bargaining position. For instance, you could agree to give your abductors a jar of it if they’ll pay off your Mastercard.

3. An Inconvenient Truth on DVD

ETs aren’t big on environmentalism but they are on Al Gore, who bears an uncanny resemblance to a flowering shrub they venerate which secretes a kind of black liquid Styrofoam. Having this DVD in your possession will give you huge street cred with them. Plus you’ll receive a 20 percent discount off all listening and reading materials in their ziggurat’s bookshop.

4. Electric Pencil Sharpener

An electric pencil sharpener produces a low-level frequency that will render your otherworldly kidnappers  unconscious long enough for you to make good your escape. Be aware that this method works only if a 220v AC power outlet is handy and you know how to pilot a warp-drive spacecraft solo.

Does your current skill set fall short of that last requirement? Call Area 51 on 555 TINFOIL. They run a course that will enable you to obtain your interstellar pilot’s license.

Please note: people with dentures or spray-on hair will be refused enrollment.

5. Giant Foam Hand

Some ETs are paranoid about their health to the point of refusing to shake hands with anyone who hasn’t bathed in industrial-strength disinfectant for at least six hours. A sneeze or even a sniff from you is enough to make these jittery jokers run *scrinkling.

Don a giant foam hand and grab your throat as if you were choking on a piece of stale lasagne. They’ll think you’ve come down with Dog Star Belly, a form of gastroenteritis that causes their extremities to swell, throats to constrict, and **banwaks to explasiate, and will only be too happy to take you right back to where they snatched you from.

*Scrinkle : to scream and tinkle simultaneously.

**Don’t ask.

6. Whoopee Cushion

Being poked, prodded, and probed by overly inquisitive aliens, who wouldn’t know a human rights violation if it slapped them in the dissection table, can leave you feeling as downcast as a real estate broker on Judgment Day.

Brighten your abduction with a whoopee cushion. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen the look on a spaceman’s mantis-like mug when he thinks he’s let one rip. Hilarious!

7. Glomesh Handbag

For some strange reason Glomesh handbags make extraterrestrials quake at the knees in terror, though, technically speaking, ETs don’t have knees, they have single bendable leg bones which could win them a swag of gold medals if they competed in rhythmic gymnastics at the Olympics.

Anyway, to elicit the maximum terror, swing the handbag over your head and shout at the top of your voice. Once you have them cowering, demand they fly you back to Mother Earth and/or vaporize the cast of Celebrity Apprentice.

8. Photo of Joan Rivers

One of the unfortunate after-effects of an alien abduction is a disorienting sense of time displacement. Hours, days even, of your life can go AWOL. You find yourself saying things like: Who am I? Where have I been? What have I been doing? These boxer shorts aren’t mine!

The quickest way out of this funk is to shock your brain back to reality and what better way to do it than with a photo of Joan Rivers? If you can’t get your hands on a happy snap of Joan, one of Mickey Rourke or the Hindenburg going up in a fireball will suffice.

9. Nylon Nightie

Nylon nighties generate a ton of static electricity. Give one a brisk rub and then throw it on the spaceship’s control panel. It’ll blow out the internal guidance system. Sure, you’ll die in a thermonuclear explosion when the ship slams into a celestial body at faster-than-light speed, but you’ll take a whole crew of the creepy chicken-legged bastards with you.

10. Carton of Cigarettes

If aliens smoked cigarettes, they’d know that, owing to their unique biochemistry, it boosted their immune systems and prolonged their lives. So offer them a gasper. The natural high they’ll get will dissuade them from poking around inside your gall bladder.

Moreover, when word spreads about this remarkable new health product of yours, you’ll become a household name throughout the cosmos. Smoke Your Way to Good Health. Now, there’s an intergalactic bestseller with your name on it!