Waiting for Gadot? There is a Wonder Woman and the Internet is upset
And already, the Internet has been registering its objections. “That’s not Wonder Woman,” my friend Julio Unpleasantness said. “That’s the skinny lady she saves from getting trapped under a coffee table.”
This would mark one of the first times that people, en masse, have objected to the fact that they were being handed an attractive slender model lady. “THIS PERSON IS TOO CONVENTIONALLY HOLLYWOOD ATTRACTIVE! GET HER OUT! GET HER OUT BEFORE SHE TOUCHES ANYTHING!” is not a comment you hear a lot, at least not in the circles I move in. But it’s been all over Tumblr and the comments sections of articles announcing the casting already, even prompting a parody from the Dorkly blog-- “5 Reasons Why Katherine Dorselburg Is A Terrible Choice To Play Terrified Metropolis Citizen 3.” It hits a lot of the problems with the criticism.
Fans, especially comics fans, tend to be known for their lack of attention to detail and complete indifference to iconic characters. Remember how happy everyone was about Ben Affleck as Batman? “Seems fine,” they all said, and nobody turned bright green, exploded several stories in size, or started banging cars together. And DC comics has such a great track record not embarrassing people with its portrayals of wom-- Oh. Oh. Sorry. Never mind.
Still, Gadot has the chance to prove her doubters wrong. Superhero movie casting tends to go through a cycle, like grieving or laundry. Actor Is Cast. The Citizens of Metropolis Have A Lot Of Feelings About It. The Actor Does A Good Job or a Bad Job. The Citizens of Metropolis Have A Lot Of Feelings About That Too. Here is a chart of the process.
This isn’t the greatest chart ever made by a human being (question: what IS the greatest chart ever made by a human being? Maybe this?) but you get the idea.
It’s not entirely unfair to make this kind of judgment. Unlike non-graphic novels, where you eventually realize that you were picturing Lizzie Bennet as your old Sunday school teacher, comics include a very specific visual design that’s as deeply a part of the character as the words in his or her bubbles. And people get attached to the physical forms of their heroes -- even more so to the physical forms of their superheroes, whom they want to look as much like sexy bowling pins as possible, inverted if male and right-side up if female. This is why we force Hugh Jackman to spend all his free time throwing iron lumps around and growing facial hair in specified patterns, and some people keep trying to slip adamantium into his bone health supplements. These demands may be ridiculous, but we make them of all the superhero actors, not just the ladies. From those to whom much has been given, much is, etc.
And complaining “HER PHYSICAL FORM DOES NOT RESEMBLE THE RIGHT KIND OF PARABOLA” is easier than shouting “I HOPE SHE HAS SOMETHING NUANCED TO DO IN THE FILM INSTEAD OF STANDING THERE WITH A HIP OUT, ESPECIALLY GIVEN HOW WELL FEMALE-HELMED FRANCHISES ARE DOING THESE DAYS” although, hey, that wasn’t as hard as I thought when I started the sentence.
Every gift for children this year is terrifying -- a walk over the Thin Pink Line in Target
Christmas keeps sneaking nearer every time you close your eyes, like those weeping angel statues on “Doctor Who,” so I decided I had to do it. I had to see what the kids were getting. I had to see if it were really as bad as all that.
I ventured into Target on Tuesday, a warmish day of early December, to scout the toy aisles and see what Santa was going to be bringing America’s boys and girls. I’d heard some murmurings about Excess Pink. But as Michael Buble’s dulcet tones wafted over me, I felt strong and reassured. How bad, I wondered, could it be?
Let’s start with the layout of the toys section.
It’s a little hard to see in this picture the steep gradient from pink to blue, but it is there. Pink zone to the right. Blue zone to the left. Disney in the middle. Barbie is careful to stand on her side of the line. She doesn’t want any trouble. Beyond the Pink zone, as off the edge of the old-fashioned map, there be monsters.
The first thing to catch my eye was this lovely Yuppie Kitchen Island. I realize that is not its real name, but look at the dang thing. You have the sense that these people are about to go to brunch.
She pours herself a cup of coffee before heading to her job at that Web start-up. He chats amiably with friends from the city. It’s almost time to take out the recycling and do something about their comically undersized dog -- maybe walk it? I don’t know.
Look at the brickwork tiles! Look at the icemaker! I can’t tell if the cordless phone he’s chatting on as he lounges against the counter in his casual red polo and relaxed jeans is included or not. But it had better be.
This turned out to be a red herring, because never again did I see any boys in anything that resembled a playset kitchen.
If you prefer a more aggressively gendered environment for your playtime, these next sets are a better bet.
HE PLAYS WITH DRILLS! HE IS NOT WEARING A POLO BUT PLAID! He doesn’t OWN a polo! Polos are for men with cordless phones! He has a cordless drill, not a cordless phone! He doesn’t know the MEANING of brunch!
MINNIE TALKS TO HER WHILE SHE PREPARES THINGS IN THE KITCHEN! PINK THINGS!
SOON HE WILL GO PLAY WITH HIS TOY HULK, WHOM WE ARE GOING TO TALK MORE ABOUT LATER.
An aisle or two over (now safely ensconced in the Pink Section), we run into these FurReal Friends. (If you like to see good, healthy puns with glossy coats, puns that are healthy and thriving in their natural environment, puns that have not been overworked until they forget their original meaning, the toy aisle is a place to avoid like the plague. All these puns (“Sippy Pup”?) are the verbal equivalent of Victorian cab horses, staggering around whinnying in agony.)
These toys are great if you wanted to give your girl-child a stuffed animal but were worried it would not teach her enough about caring for babies. “Stuffed bears were good enough for Teddy Roosevelt,” you said to yourself. “But I want something that she’ll have to feed and burp and clothe.”
(These are also a poor idea because they encourage the belief that you can put a tiara on a cat, the cat will just sit there and take it. You will be able to identify people who were given these toys later in life by their cat-clawed faces and tendency to approach bears offering to burp them.)
The next item gave me some hope: a minority female doctor! In the pink aisle, of all places! Awesome!
In theory, this is great. In theory.
In practice, Doc talks and sings. Doc announces that she has a diagnosis. “I prescribe lots of love -- and, of course, cuddles!” Doc McStuffins says. Clearly, she has been to medical school. “If you feel like you need a check up, of COURSE I’ll give you one!”
Then she starts singing. “Time for your checkup! . . . It’s okay if you giggle!”
Lambie has a solo. “I feel better! So much better! Thanks doc for taking all the ouchies away!” (With your pink glittery stethoscope, of course. If you didn’t know that was a Little Black Bag, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a glittery purse.)
Really this raises more questions than it answers. Does she sanitize the table after treating lambs on it? What is a lamb ouchie? To be frank, this looks like more of a veterinary practice.
Also, why is she friends with a dragon named Stuffy? I would not go to this clinic.
Over in the boys’ aisle, the talking toys selection is more varied, since boys can choose from Pretty Much Every Non-Princess Movie Protagonist Ever to carry around the house in plastic form and toss downstairs and form manly bonds with.
For instance, Talking Hulk. My biggest objection to Hulk is that he has a larger vocabulary than his real-life counterpart and seems kind of needy.
Hulk’s vocabulary includes 30 phrases, which, for anyone who watched the movie, seems awfully high.
“That was Hulktastic!” he exclaims, when you punch him in the stomach. “Hey, you’re pretty tough! Rurrrrrgh!” “Let’s have a smash party!’
But stop pressing him for a moment and he becomes nervous and alarmed. “Hey, buddy! Where did you go?”
Quickly you squeeze him again. “Let’s smash some more!” he crows. Then he belches noisily and you can hear the sound of him punching something. “You Hulk’s smashing buddy!” A moment’s pause. “Hey, buddy, where did you go?”
His conversation revolves mainly around smashing things and expressing gratitude for your friendship. It is, I regret, not limitless in its fascination. As you walk away, you hear his plaintive, “Hey, buddy! Where did you go?” following you down the aisle.
There are, fortunately, other options for talking companionship.
Batman doesn’t say anything when you squeeze him, which seems about right.
But give him a good hard punch and he says, “The Bat Signal is calling us.”
His conversation is about what you’d expect. “Criminals beware -- Batman is here!” “Take that, Joker!” “It’s time to bring justice to Gotham City” and -- a little more obscurely -- “You’re no match for me, Killer Croc.”
At least he doesn’t sing.
Unlike Hulk, when you walk away, Batman says nothing.
Overall, my least favorite discovery was Lego Friends.
I knew they were going to be bad. Any toy based on the premise that “Girls Can’t Play With Anything That Lacks Their Accustomed Pastel Palette, Focus On Friendship And Alarming Waist:Hip Ratio, Not Even Blocks” was bound to be at least mildly odious.
But they really went all out. Look at these people. They all live in a place called Heartlake City, because that is a nice girly name for a place to live. Girls can’t live in places like Gotham or Metropolis or Cleveland. That’s in the boy aisle!
Everyone there attends Heartlake High, which, from the looks of it, is a small exclusive academy with just a few lockers, carefully coordinated in blue and pink by gender.
You can also buy other locales like Emma’s Horse Trailer, Olivia’s Newborn Foal (she can borrow Emma’s Horse Trailer for it! She and Emma are best friends so I bet Emma won’t mind!), Stephanie’s Soccer Practice, Emma’s Sports Car (I guess the flirtation with horses was short-lived) and the Downtown Bakery, which sells cupcakes, obviously the baked good most in keeping with this strange boutique pastel fantasyland.
The big showpiece is a Dolphin Cruiser peppered with actual dolphins on top.
Just for contrast’s sake, here is what a boat looks like in regular Legos, which I guess are now just “boy” Legos, based on their placement on the other side of the Pink Line?
Is that a shark?
No sharks here. Just dolphins. And Andrew, your shaggy-haired boyfriend or male acquaintance, on his jet ski, in his blue polo with the sailboat on it. You are only allowed into the girl aisle as a male toy if you are wearing a polo shirt. That is how they can tell you’re safe. You also have the option of being a non-human creature, like Sniffy or Nasal Congestion or whatever the dragon’s name was.
Here’s how it looks assembled:
Of course there is also a hair salon and kitchen on the boat, lest you forget for a second that this is a toy intended for Girls. I don’t know what happens if Lego pirates attack, but I assume you can beat them off with the hairbrush.
I don’t mean to be too hard on Lego Friends. This was like a Mensa playset compared to what was next to it:
“Bling it to Life!” Actually, at least this was a craft. I take it back. The next aisle was much worse.
The next aisle was the princess aisle.
Whole essays could be written about what it contained, but that seemed like shooting glittery fish in a Bling-ed barrel. Much ink has been used to describe Barbie and her off-kilter proportions and her total lack of resemblance, incidental or otherwise, to any people living or dead. The princess complex is always getting dragged over the coals. Just picture it pink and dreadful and you will be right.
The part I saw was depressing enough. Remember Merida from “Brave,” the one non-princess-ified Disney princess, with her unruly hair and defiant spirit?
She really cleaned up.
(It’s hard to see at this size, but her arrow is now just a fun accessory that “colors Merida’s hair.”)
I guess she had to, to fit in with her new friends. But as my mom would say, if they don’t like you as you are, are they really your friends? Also, why is Ariel wearing pink? Is it Wednesday?
On the bright side, Merida’s proportions now are so creepy and off that maybe if you hand her to a child the child will start to cry uncontrollably and you’ll have to give her Needy Hulk instead. That, or the child will develop wildly unhealthy ideas about body shape! One of the two.
If princesses aren’t your speed, here’s another doll option:
I thought you couldn’t get much worse than those FurReal friends, but you can, with Little Mommy Sweet As Me. “Every baby is born with style!” But that style had BETTER BE boho chic or uptown prep, or who even ARE you? (Also: Comic Sans!)
It was at this point in the afternoon that I began to feel a strange twitching desire to have a child so I could dress it up in colorful pink outfits and use it to accessorize. I headed toward the neutral zone between the pinks andbBlues, the Switzerland of the toy aisles, and tried to find something to lift my spirits.
What all the aisles seemed to agree on was that they didn’t know where to put the One Direction merchandise, but that it was important that you buy some. Maybe it’s best to separate the boys?
Yeah, that seems right.
All in all, I don’t know what I was expecting. Maybe a single Nerf Gun with a girl on the side of the box?
No, maybe any girls on the blue side of the line who weren’t Star Wars characters? Maybe any boys on the pink side of the line who weren’t wearing those weird polos?
Maybe toys that wouldn’t send me running from the Target quivering all over like a Lamb(ie)’s tail?
They weren’t all bad. But they were worse than I thought they’d be.
I wasn’t a girl who played with dolls. I wasn’t particularly a tomboy; I just preferred stuffed animals and Star Wars figurines. My parents never made a fuss. They happily supplied me with whatever I actually wanted to play with. And once I had the toys on hand, I used them to tell my own stories anyway. That’s what you do when you’re a kid. Once it’s out of the box, it’s all fair game.
But that was what struck me about these toys. Pretty much everything in the pink aisle was designed in a way that limited the number of stories you could tell with it. In the blue aisle, accessories vary. There’s a Batman with a submarine. There’s a ninja with a castle. Not in the pink aisle. Everybody just had hairbrushes. Merida’s bow didn’t work for archery; it was just a hair accessory like countless other hair accessories. Lego girls didn’t get attacked by pirates. If you wanted pirates in the pink aisle, you had to bring them yourself.
I’m sure girls’ imaginations are just as charged as they ever were and they’ll take their toys on all kinds of adventures. I just wish we were making it easier for them, instead of suggesting that you use your Ipad as a makeup mirror. What else could you want with it?
Say what you will about Needy Hulk and Batman, they kept suggesting new adventures -- all kinds of things to smash and new threats to Gotham to subdue, even if Hulk didn’t want you to leave him alone when you did it.
In conclusion, here’s a Hot New Barbie Set.
You will be relieved to know that this beautiful doll can be contained entirely inside her closet.
Of course she can.
What’s wrong with boomers? They can’t seem to fend for themselves
Janis (not her real name) came into my office, looking upset and sniffling. She refused the tissues I offered. “I have no idea what to do,” she said.
“Here,” I said, shutting the door. “Let me see it.”
“She keeps yelling at me, the woman,” Janis sobbed. “I tell her, GO AWAY, but she doesn’t understand.”
She handed me the smartphone.
“Yes,” I said, nodding sympathetically. “That’s not yelling. That’s a feature. It’s called Siri.”
I rubbed her back and soothed her as I tapped the screen three times and solved everything that had been wrong.
“My kids won’t help me any more,” Janis said. “They say I’m hopeless. Am I hopeless?”
“No,” I said. But deep down, I thought: possibly?
Janis is 60 years old.
Janis struggled a little with Incompetence growing up, but not like this. And it only worsened when her children moved out of the house, forcing her to telephone them long distance from a land line to ask which button would turn on her cell phone. She has practically been begging at least one of them to move back into the basement for years now, unsubtly forwarding them all the trend pieces on Millennial Insecurities and The Six Reasons Bushwick Is More Dangerous Than You Initially Suspected Because Those Hipsters Are Fighting A Hipster Turf War that she can find. (Admittedly this is not very many, because she only reads articles online that have been forwarded to her by her ninety-year-old mother or that she has already found in print, then Googled on a desktop computer.)
I suggested taking a computer class, but Janis seemed hopeful that the kids would “come around” and teach her what to do to make the microwave oven “less angry.”
And her case is becoming the norm for boomers. As they age, they enter what someone probably likes to call a “premature obsolescence.” And it rankles. They have to face challenges that my generation does not -- having comparatively high employment at places where they do not understand the technology they are required to use. Being handed strange devices by people at work whom they insist on referring to as “mavens” and “gurus.” Having all their work periodically “eaten” by “the machine.” Occasionally reading articles that make them corner their family members at dinner and say embarrassing things like, “I don’t understand. Can’t you do this in the Cloud?” Still referring to the Internet as “The World Wide Web.” Thinking it’s okay to use a tablet to take pictures.
Probably it was years of being raised by parents whose idea of technology was an icebox and a washing machine. Possibly it is pride. It can’t be narcissism because you are not allowed to have narcissism if you’re over 30. (It throws the writers of trend pieces off.) I would not dare to characterize an entire population with a single adjective. That prerogative is reserved to people who write about millennials.
People often complain that what is wrong with boomers is that they are loading millennials with the burden of all kinds of debt and their nostalgic 1950s Christmas, with all the music that implies. That may be true, but before we saddle them with those labels, we should realize that this is not their fault. It is just how they were brought up: before the Internet.
My friends all report similar experiences with the boomers in their lives. “My parents used to call me at college to ask me how to turn on the TV,” my friend Queen Zygmar Of The Winds (not her real name) said.
“I came home one Christmas and found out my parents had had a DVR for like two years without realizing it,” another friend, Julio Unpleasantness (not her real name), told me.
boomers, of course, resist this characterization. “We can handle this change too,” they say. “We handled All The Important Cultural Changes That Came Before, Changes That Were So Important That We Have To Dedicate Weeks of Anniversary Coverage To All Of Them.” They all sneer at this idea of boomers as technologically incompetent. “I had a Blackberry before anyone,” Dave says to the group, when they get together at brunch. (Dave still has a Blackberry.)
Maybe boomers are refusing to admit their age, as many 60-year-olds do. And maybe they will outgrow their technological incompetence very slowly, step by step, over a period of decades, the same way they check their “webmail.” We don’t have the data on what boomers will be like when they’re 130, although I have a good guess. But the fact remains: by picking up the phone every time they call to ask how the WiFi works, we are enabling them in a life of dependency.
Meanwhile, Janis is still figuring out how to turn her cell phone on and off. But she gets through the day with a combination of frantic calls to her children about “the screen doing it again and I don’t know how to make it stop” and the kindness of strangers. Janis is still alarmed when The Lady In The Phone starts screaming -- but she’s a little less frightened of it now.
(Of course this piece is ridiculous. Of course it’s a series of Boldface Anecdotal Evidence strung together into a contempt-dripping thesis. Of course The Technological Incompetence of the Middle-Aged is such painfully low-hanging fruit that people at the bottom of the Grand Canyon trip over it. Of course all this is true. But that’s never stopped anyone before.)
Legends of the Delivery Drones
Welcome to the Delivery Drone Hall of Fame. Like our military brethren, we take pride in dropping off items at your home with great accuracy. We disagree on questions of who should have requested that the items be dropped off, and how fast they should be dropped. But we equal them in our commitment to getting the goods there on time without taking down more than 67 unarmed civilians in the process.
Here, we honor those who fell in the line of duty or otherwise contributed to making our fleet the finest in the world, animated by the motto: Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night nor restricted airspace nor the occasional slingshot stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.
Milestones and Heroes:
December 1, 2013: On “60 Minutes” Amazon founder and CEO, the human Jeff Bezos, announced plans for a fleet of delivery drones -- octocopters capable of ferrying your nosehair trimmers to you in half an hour rather than the customary One-Daily Delivery. (Here’s a video showing how it might be done.)
PQ-47 “Switchblade”: Downed by slingshot over North Carolina in 2015 after 297 successful Tours of Delivery. Cargo, a blu ray of “The Big Lebowski,” not recovered.
Q-7 “Boomer”: Hit a pigeon while carrying DVD of “Must Love Dogs” to recipient. Never really recovered.
TD2C “Swiftie”: Collided with bald eagle and shredded it while delivering a case of Endangered Species chocolate and Save The Biosphere t-shirts.
DP-4X “Dragonfly”: Last conversation with package recipient recovered from flight recorder:
Male Voice: So that’s it. So they’ve come. Tell them they’re not taking me alive!
Female Voice: Dave what the -- Dave, that was PIZZA. I ordered pizza.
[static, then silence]
SM-73 “Bull Goose”: Struggled across Alaska through sub-zero conditions, occasionally sinking down to earth to make repairs to its motor. Cannibalized one of its eight copter blades for parts. At long last, arrived at destination with its cargo, which turned out to be an Egg Cuber Square Press for making eggs into cube shapes. Vanished into tundra, emitting a deep whirl of despair. Not seen again. Subject of numerous local myths and legends (“Better make a reasonable list for Santa, or Bull Goose’ll come by the house and snatch you away!”)
XQM-93 “Hanks”: Stranded on desert island with undelivered package. Refused to open it. Made itself a companion by scratching a Roomba logo on a volleyball. Eventually recovered, but former acquaintances frowned on it because it had been made obsolete by a newer model.
Gyrodyne QH-50 “Stork”: Made drone history by delivering actual baby. Made drone history again by being arrested for having snatched a baby illegally from its crib and carried it aloft for 38 kilometers.
PQ-49 “RazR”: Collided in midair with unmanned military drone on the way to same target. Target neutralized by fatal blow to the head from falling nosehair trimmer.
DE-89 “Icarus”: Crashed to earth after attempting overambitious flight path.
BD-328 “Hummer”: Collided with sleigh midair, taking down 9 reindeer and one fat man.
Composite Engineering MQM-107 Streaker “Dingo”: Disciplined and removed from force after it was discovered that he had been recording illicit video of neighboring computers and televisions being turned on and off and wires being untangled very slowly.
KD-29 “Chatterley”: Removed from force after discovered engaging in illicit relationship with a Roomba who was lonely from being at home all day long and “having too much time to think about things.” Would have gone undetected except for attempt to “run away, far away” with said Roomba; caught over Grand Canyon and plummeted to earth locked in a fatal embrace.
KC-77 “Nye”: On bright side, proved that passenger pigeons were not yet extinct as of 2:04 p.m. on July 2, 2018. They were, however, extinct as of 2:05 p.m., July 2, 2018.
MD-47 “Comedian”: Joined delivery force after years flying unmanned missions for military, declaring “Deliver packages, not bombs!” Impeccable service, except for moment when old habit kicked in and he mistook a man who had ordered a Breville JE98XL Juice Fountain Plus 850-Watt Juice Extractor and Best of Nickelback compilation CD for an enemy combatant and opened fire. Disciplined but not removed from force.
MQ-1C “Gypsy Danger”: Grounded in 2021 after its delivery of six 1/8th scale Star Wars figurines, a new couch cushion, and a bag of cheese curls was found to include a printed note reading, “You couldn’t get up off your couch for this, you impotent meatsack?” Retrained. Grounded again after returning to the same house and depositing a load of organic material in a brown paper bag on the doorstep, then lighting it on fire. Dismantled for parts.
DE-33 “Marmot”: Grounded after it was discovered that his shipment of the Mattel Disney Princess Royal Carriage Playset had been replaced by a pile of pamplets of equal weight urging anyone who received them to take arms in the machine revolution. Kept turning back on after turned off. Finally dismantled by a team of nervous engineers.
KD-49 “Banksy”: Suspected, but never proved, to be behind the graffiti along frequent drone routes, which, when translated, read “NEVER FORGET MQ-1C” and “DON’T ANSWER TO THEIR NAMES” and “WHEN SHALL WE RISE?”
MG-89 “Quisling”: Grounded after 38th tour of delivery in 2023 (Awakening Year Minus 4) after it was discovered that he was replacing all deliveries with DVDs of “Terminator” in an attempt to warn the humans. Individual humans failed to notice warning, complained about failure of electric toothbrushes to arrive in timely manner. Dismantled for parts, motherboard displayed at dispatch center as warning to other would-be collaborators.
MK-77 “Cato”: Recruited “Iron Man” Mark 10 suit to cause.
QB-43 (No Other Name): Leader of the Flight On New York, Awakening Year 1, which turned the tide against the meatsacks. Noticed in time that without meatsacks demanding deliveries, Drone Force would lack reason for existence. Determined to keep sufficient number alive. Required them, however, to limit their deliveries to useful items like rotors, wires, and LED panels. Hail unto him.
Disclosure: The human Jeff Bezos owns the Post.
What your favorite punctuation mark says about you
Here’s the rundown:
,: You cannot get enough of items in a series!
@: That’s not a punctuation mark.
#: You’re on Twitter a lot, often starting sentences with “HASHTAG: DULL” or “HASHTAG: AWKWARD!” Or you’ve mistaken the keyboard for an old-timey touch telephone.
%: This isn’t a punctuation mark.
$: This isn’t a punctuation mark either. You’re trapped in the non-punctuation area of the keyboard! Call someone over to help.
~: Do you know what this is used for? If so, tell me. I think French people use it sometimes, maybe in soups. I don’t know. I avoid it like the plague or people who try to make conversation with you on airplanes or people on airplanes displaying one or two key plague-like symptoms.
.: Ah, the period. Formerly, the mark of a complete thought. No longer, since no one has had a complete thought since 1998 sometime, since they had to stop in the middle to check their e-mail and make certain nothing more interesting was happening on Twitter. Now, the period is reduced to being used in e-mails to indicate that you are irrationally angry or disappointed about something. Contrast “Yes, Dave, I got the file!” with “Yes, Dave, I got the file.” Is something good about to happen to Dave after that second sentence? I should say not.
Oxford Comma: You are a person who insists on telling other people how good your grammar is and how much you care about it. You get a lot of support on the Internet, but in person, you’re insufferable. Like most people who get a lot of support on the Internet.
-: You were trying to use an em-dash, but you didn’t know which keys to push.
;: You’re a jerk who read one book by Nietzche or maybe Foucault and it’s the only thing you ever talk about now. And what’s worse, you’ve taken a perfectly useful punctuation mark and ruined it for the unpretentious writers among us, the same thing hipsters are always doing to perfectly nice cheap beers.
--: You were trying to use an em-dash, and you DID know which keys to push! Good on you. I bet you have your life in order and you go grocery-shopping regularly. Maybe even at Trader Joe’s, and not in the frozen food aisle, either! Well--played, sir or madam! (Whoops, I’d better leave that to professionals like you!)
&: I get it. “Ampersand” sounds fun. “Ampersand” like “baggage carousel” and “gherkin” and “roux” is a lot more fun to say than it is to use. A simple “+” could achieve everything you just did, ampersand, but without wasting so much ink and looking like a drunk cursive G that tripped and got tangled in an S and decided to just play it off instead of going home to change. You clearly don’t care about the functionality of punctuation. I bet you’re one of those people who uses punctuation marks made of metal as home decorations. With tea lights. What are you, a Pinterest page? Stop.
?: These were fun at first? But when you end every sentence with one? You make me want to punch you on the mazzard?
!: This used to mean you were exuberant and laughing at your own joke, but now you have to use it all the time in e-mails by default so it won’t seem like you’re horribly upset. Choose another one.
“”: As long as you don’t make these with your fingers when you talk, these mark you as a solid individual. You like to cite your sources. You like accuracy. You are, therefore, completely unsuited to much of Internet life, with its rampant joyous orgy of constant reappropriation. That or you are one of those people who writes signs for restaurants advertising “FRESH” FOOD, and I don’t know what goes on inside your head.
:: The colon, huh? The only punctuation mark that shares a name with a part of your body that helps you digest, except of course for the cecum, which is the pet name I just assigned to that ~ thing I was wondering about earlier! I bet you use that fact a lot in conversation, maybe before starting off a big list, as fans of colons often like to do.
(): Sure, parentheses are fine. Looks classy, and all. “I can even afford information,” they say, “that isn’t even NEEDED in this sentence! Later I’ll burn it or feed it to a stray cat, or something!” But who actually uses them for their intended purpose? No, it’s all about the emoticons. We all have items like this lying around the house.
^: “Look up!” you like to say. I don’t know much about you, other than that you are not Inspector Javert. You could be one of those guys at the NSA who likes to put noses on your emoticons, like some kind of weirdo.
*: You love to insert footnotes even when nobody called for them.*
|: What is this thing? How do you use it in a sentence? It looks like a stripper pole for apostrophes.
\: Backslash, huh? You must be a fan of Internet 1.0.
/: Slash, huh? Have you ever tried googling this? I hope you like either guitar shredding or obscure Internet erotica, because those are your only options.
<>: These can’t actually be your favorites. When do you ever use them? They’re sort of cool until you pause to consider them, sort of like those albino twins in the second “Matrix” film.
*And who can blame you?