New Plateaus Of Mediocrity

I mentioned yesterday that I’m an English nerd. And it’s true. My favorite class in graduate school was called Transformational English Grammar, and every single day – for the entire class – we would put sentences on the board and diagram every single word. Sometimes we would put paragraphs on the board and diagram every single word. And for about two years after that class, I couldn’t read a single page in a book without silently labeling the parts of speech in my head (“article adjective noun adverb verb infinitive…” – you get the idea), and it didn’t even bother me. Because I love words. Words are my friends. Except when I’m playing Words With Friends. But that’s another story entirely.

Anyway, I just wanted to say that yesterday’s post was no doubt a disappointment to English nerds everywhere (or at least the six to eight English nerds who read here). I don’t know when I’ve ever been more off my game. I misspelled words. I attached the wrong links. I got my information wrong. I made corrections – and then the corrections weren’t correct. So basically what I did was to provide the internet with a blog post that any social media expert could use as an example of WHAT NOT TO DO.

See? It’s like it was a public service.

Anyway, to make up for my carelessness (not to mention my complete failure to proofread), I thought that the least I could do was to share a deeply moving video with you. And fortunately, sharing this video doesn’t require any sort of typing on my part. So there’s no way I can ruin it.

It really was a golden era, my friends. The choreography makes my heart sing, and OH MY WORD LOOK AT THEIR HAIR.

Please know that while you were watching, I was sitting here practicing my spelling.

Fare thee well.

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • email


  1. There hair were so big! I bet your wishing you could still where yours like that.

  2. Jennifer says:

    Did you also take Dr. Caldwell’s Descriptive English Grammar? We spent no less than two weeks discussing the mouth and tongue movements necessary to form every letter in the English language. I mean, have you ever repeated the “y” sound over and over until you’ve paralyzed your tongue? It was divine. Also, I was one of, maybe, five English majors who willingly signed up for Clyde Williams’s Shakespeare classes. English nerd solidarity, my friend.

  3. I loved all my liberal arts classes except for Spanish contrastive grammar. Help me Jesus! It’s been 8 years and I think I’ve blocked it all out by now. Of course, with Guatemala in 2 weeks I’m praying God will slap it back into my head!

  4. All I could think of is that no one on that stage knew how prophetic that song was…’They Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet’…the internet, cell phones, email, twitter, SUVs, Bump-its (oh wait, maybe they did know about those)…and that Kathy Lee Johnson would one day become Kathy Lee Gifford. Wow, we were all so naive then.

  5. I’ve always thought you were pretty cool, Boo, but I feel I’ve found a kindred spirit now that you’ve shared your obsession with English grammar! I loved learning how to diagram in grade school and then in college and grad school. I’m so in love with mapping out sentences that I actually taught a diagramming lesson to my coworkers a few months ago! (It’s okay. I work in an editorial department, so they’re just as geeky as I am.)

  6. Oh my, watching that video makes me want to bust out singing “Can you see me now… out on a Funship Cruise” A’la Kathie Lee Gifford’s Carnival Cruise commercial circa 1986. She really could rock the marble steps and glass elevator. Tell me you remember those commercials!

  7. Hey! This has nothing to do with this post, but I had to ask if you have the kids/family tunes from seeds of worship. If not,you must check them out.

    We love them so and thought your boy would too!

  8. LOL brought to us by Tupperware! How funny is that? I could not help but let out a little giggle when I saw that.

  9. AmandaMo says:

    So, I’m watching this video and wondering why does it look so old and have the feel of a Lawrence Welk show?! I mean, I was a freshmen in highschool then so it can’t be that old! Then it hits me. That was 24 years ago!! 24 years….

  10. 1986-that means I most likely watched this in my freshman year dorm room. Oh my. So if you would have had this sentence in your Transformational English Class- At the 1986 Miss American Pageant, the song “Ain’t seen nothin yet” was performed.-what would you have done with the word “Ain’t” ? :) Sorry, couldn’t resist!

  11. I had to go back and look…I had a couple of friends who competed in Miss America, but it was 1984 & 1989. Yes, I so identify with that era!! Funny :)

  12. OH MY GOODNESS! The shoulder pads! The hair! It’s all so glorious!
    Check out the dress on one of the girls at :48 – white top, HUGE pink swatch RIGHT under her hips, and a ginormous bow on the back…right over her rear! Classic 80’s!

  13. My sister and I were talking today and she commented on how much she was enjoying the book Radical she was reading. I said hey that is Boo Mama’s pastor. She has been very impressed with him:)

  14. Oh my word- did you have to take “History of the English Language ” ? I cannot remember how long we spent just on the dipthong.
    Good Times. And I LOVE the clip – wish I could see it all. What ever happened to that ‘up and coming’ Nashville star? I don’t think he ever made it to Hee Haw….

  15. Some of my favorite books are by Bill Walsh, copy chief for national news at WaPo. Look for The Elephants of Style and Lapsing Into a Comma. They are the BEST reading!

  16. Did you know someone in the show that year?

  17. OH MY WORD. I have absolutely SO many things to say about this video.
    1) I believe I even REMEMBER watching this Miss America pageant and I was all of ELEVEN years old at the time. But oh how I loved me some pageants, makeup and big hair.
    2) I was just saying to my husband last night that NBC’s Lee Cowan looks JUST like Gary Collins in his Miss America-hosting heyday. Seriously, Google the story with Lee Cowan about the new huge school in Los Angeles and you will think Gary Collins has been reincarnated on the NBC News!
    3) Those were such beauty glory days. I mean, if I could do that to my hair and lacquer on that much makeup each day, I would be happy as a clam. Sadly, even though I live in Texas, I think it would be a bit much.
    A girl can dream.

  18. Oh, you just make me laugh, BooMama! I guarantee that I watched that pageant with my mom and sisters (as we always did). I love the jazz hands, the Miss America dancers, Gary Collins’ fabulous hair, and oh, those risque slits in their gowns (oh my!)!! I will confess that when my oldest daughter (who is now 8) was just a few months old, I woke her up and got her out of her crib to watch her first Miss America with me (before it came to ruin). My husband did not understand that one AT ALL!!! :)

  19. Um, yes. I still get a little giddy at the thought of diagramming sentences. I never got to do it at the graduate level, but as an undergrad in Approaches to Grammar, we spent several glorious weeks diagramming on the board. We even did speed drills with them – for fun! Our idea, not the professor’s!

    I miss those days.

  20. I too, have spent more than my share time diagraming a sentence since I was 17…something about it must makes sense, doesn’t it?

  21. I was sitting there thinking, “Why do the contestants look so OLD?” when my husband peeked over my shoulder and just said, “What the heck? Are those young girls?” hilarious! Thanks for the laugh.

  22. A friend and I were standing in line for lunch at school yesterday talking about what a horrible English major I am. I like literature and all, but I don’t really feel like I get enough grammar. And you’ll no doubt be disappointed to know that we don’t do Reed-Kellogg diagrams anymore; oh no, it’s all X-bars (or “trees”) now. I just kept thinking “Sister Angelique would DIE if she saw this!”

  23. Just want you to know that Doug Swander actually married our local dance school teacher here in our little Mississippi town! She was Miss Mississippi 198something and 2nd alternate(i think) in the Miss America pagent….and then her “Dance Entourage” danced in these pagents…..sooooo I said all that to say…we are Miss America famous around these parts AND I stink at English! LOL

  24. I tried responding to the e-mail about the book Radical but it would not let me go through.

  25. My children’s school teaches a grammar program called “Shurley English” Those kids cannot get out of elementary school without knowing all the parts of speech! They are drilled, and drilled, and drilled, and lather rinse repeat! It is a little scary to see it in action. I was an observer in the classroom one day and you have no idea how hard I was praying that they wouldn’t call on me to run a drill!

  26. I think I will be smiling about that clip all day!

  27. Remember on Monsters, Inc. where Mike is so excited about being in the new commercial and he’s covered up by the Monsters, Incorporated logo? That’s all I could think of when The Miss America Dancers were giving it their all and being totally covered up by the Pillsbury ,etc ads! heehee!

  28. I’m thinking I just might know who won that pageant that year!

    And Tara, my kids did Shurley Grammar, too. We loved it!

  29. Ohhhh my, how the style has changed since then, haha!!!! Such a fun video!!!

  30. I totally would have been your friend sitting next to you in class drooling over sentence diagramming. I was a horrible English major, because 98% of the classes were 18th century British Literature…and I haaaaaaate 18th century British Literature. If there had been a “English Tech” major, I would have done that, because I looooooves me some good grammar. :)

  31. Holy Mother of Pearl! Kathie Lee before she was a Gifford, Gary Collins, I don’t think he has changed a bit, and I know back in the day I was jealous of that “do” but WOW. Thats all I can say. Well, that and “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”

  32. Comment: I could not help but notice how conservative the gowns were compared to the Miss Universe pagent gowns I saw this weekend.

    Question: What made you pick 1986 again?

  33. That’s a hoot to watch! LOL I think I may remember it.

  34. My goodness, the things we did to achieve a head of poufy hair in the 80’s.

    I love that the pageant was sponsored by Pillsbury. That’s irony for you.

    Thanks for the smile! :)

  35. Nita in SC says:

    I am absolutely stunned by the lack of exposed boobs! TV was so tame back then!

    The posts above reminded me of my irrational and extreme hatred of Gary Collins. He and Mary Ann Mobley used to come to our town every year and do the local charity telethon. Every time they’d announce a new total, M.A. would shriek, “AND YOU AIN’T SEEN NOTHIN’ YET!!”

  36. I giggled when I read this. My degree is in History, but I minored in English. We are homeschooling our oldest son this year and guess what I got to teach yesterday? We worked on diagramming sentences! My little English nerd heart was singing. I had the whiteboard out and everything.

  37. ellebell says:

    *clapping hands with glee*
    That video was salve to my soul. ;-)

  38. I hate to say it but Doug Swander’s ‘rising star’ must have burned out because I’ve never heard of him!!! :) Thanks for a laugh back in the good ol’ days!

  39. Oh, so many thoughts here… First, the guy on the ladder in the one of the fist few frames reminds me of John Davidson. I know it’s not him, but it made me think about him. Didn’t he host some beauty pageants back in the day? I miss him and his dimples. Whatever happened to him anyway? Secondly, did anyone else see the guy second from the right stumble on the stairs about 45 seconds in? Lastly, have you ever read the book Eats Shoots & Leaves by Lynn Truss? It’s about punctuation, not grammar, but all the sentence diagraming made me think about it and all its WHAT-NO-TO-DO-NESS. And just for the record…I didn’t catch any of the mistakes in yesterday’s post.

  40. omg…seriously.

    my mouth is agape and i. am. SPEECHLESS!

    how bout kathie lee’s introductory bow? i mean, what in the world *was* that!?

    aw, but, really. gone are the days of my sisters and i staying up to watch the miss america pageant…back when such productions weren’t so scandalous.

    and they’re also gone because we’re all in our thirties now and no one cares anymore.

    p.s. dry idea? really? is that even around anymore?

    and where is ol’ gary collins these days? whatever happened to that guy?


  41. I’m cracking up! Mostly because 1986 was the year my second cousin, Susan Akin, won the pageant. I was very young then, but I idolized her!

    This is crazy funny! The hair?

  42. Christina says:

    I love this! If you look around :10 I think that is Tony from dancing with the Stars. Cracking up!

  43. wow…. I never met anyone who enjoyed their transformational grammar class. I dreaded it, and I was a linguistics/speech pathology major. Might have had something to do with the fact that our teacher was 1000 years old, the class was at 4:00 in the afternoon, and taught in one of the oldest buildings on campus with no AC. Good times… good times.

  44. I was an English major so I spent some serious time in the transformational grammar class too! I was in a car accident, and part of my cognitive therapy dealt with words, and for some reason it triggered the unfortunate “sentence graphing” in my head everytime I had a conversation. Nightmare!!

  45. Ahhh… the told ole days. When all our worries were wiped away with big hair and good tupperware.

  46. Okay, your link. I thought, “I’m so tired, I bet it won’t make me laugh…”

    But, I was WRONG!!! Goodness gravy–I couldn’t keep myself from giggling!!! The big splits the gal did right in the air–and in front of the camera. The big hair, sparkly dresses. Just the walk down memory lane made me giggle, with joy, of course!

    Then, the ad for “Pillsbury” came up and I giggled again! Oh look! An ad for a product NONE OF THE CONTESTANTS has tasted in beauty pageant years! Bless their skinny little hearts.

    Maybe I’m just punchy tonight. But, your link sure made me laugh! Thanks!!