The Nerdy Girl Theory

So a TRUCKLOAD of information is available on the internet about girls who freely express themselves about HOW MUCCH OV A NERD DEY AAARE LLOOLZZ… ahem, and the unreserved rage that gamerguys, fanbois, and comic book fans have expressed over this.

Two points become clear here:

  1. In recent history, it has suddenly become (apparently) cool and fashionable for girls to proclaim their love for all things nerdy.

  2. The internet doesn’t like it.

First let’s get something clear.

Image

So by that paradigm, I’ve been a pretentious douchebag for months now. I’m not a nerd, i’m just intelligent and mildly obsessive about a few, unrelated things. :3

So let’s explore the first point.

There could be several angles and/or reasons to this cultural shift taking the internet by gale (because it’s not a storm by any yardstick).

  • It’s an unexplored market for film and fashion industries and they are really milking the cow as much as they can. A lot of celebrities have taken to it, as covered by Smosh on their site, here
  • We’ve seen one too many shy-chick-gets-a-makeover-and-becomes-prom-queen flick and/or seasons of Beauty and the Geek, and are looking to emulate it.
  • Glasses and spectacles improved vastly in the looks department, and girls went wild from there. Sweaters are hot too.
  • Hipsters couldn’t find anything else, believing that all other departments were taken (Let’s face it: Hipster is an asymptotic synonym for fashionista. It’s the vicious cycle of fashion – The rich want to avoid looking like the poor so they dress differently, and the poor want to emulate the rich, so they eventually mimic their clothes (because that is SO much easier than emulating etiquette), forcing the rich to change, and so on).
  • A sizeable portion of girls (people in general, really) are insecure about themselves. It is possible that these girls are taking the opportunity to really actually come out into the open. However, it is again possible that such girls are few and far between.
  • A large number of girls are seeking attention by blindly emulating aforementioned celebrities, which is causing the outbreak.
  • Some of these girls are misinformed, as shown in the following image: Image

Don’t call me sexist. I’m not, and I will not entertain any such allegations.

Now, I will try to explore the reasons behind the second point – Why the internet is getting its knickers in a twist over this.

  • The internet is in large part made up of men and women who are largely socially oppressed, either by loved ones, or by that social hellhole called school (Don’t get me wrong. I loved school, I love learning, but school is a tough time for all kids, where peer pressure is tremendous).
  • With the advent of social networking, “the meatworld” moved in (obscure WoW reference. Please pardon me), and the socially oppressed people (henceforth referred to as Old Internet or S.O.P.) didn’t appreciate their bullies invading their turf and they lashed out.
  • The S.O.P. have a large intersection set with people who love video games, science fiction and comic books. So naturally, when the “bullies” started claiming territory, Old Internet lashed out in panic. However the internet is a large place, and it accommodated everyone, resulting in apathy, as shown here.
  • The S.O.P. hold a natural advantage of experience and intelligence on the webs, and it is very possible that the intoxication of power i.e. the chance to be the bullies themselves took them over. However, the S.O.P. fell into in-fighting, resulting in what we know today as YouTube comment feeds, and get-back-in-the-kitchen jokes.

(Side note: I strongly believe that the previous point, combined with the inherent property of anonymity and distance is what has made the internet such a hateful place.)

I’ll let Jim Sterling summarise for me: Watch Video

Hence, in conclusion, if I had to take a stand, I’d rather have such girls leave the gaming/comic/cartoon/online community alone, but I also know that it’s not going to happen. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion, no matter how skewed/checkered/misinformed/ stupid/nihilistic it is, and we as insecure people will spend money we don’t have to buy things we can’t afford to impress people we don’t like. Yes I stole that line, but in my defense it’s a really, really good one.

If I could have one small thing, I’d have that the level of stupidity on the net comes down a bit. And everyone does something stupid or the other. I probably do too.

And with that, I’d like to thank you for taking the time out of your schedules to read my work. Please  Please feel free to comment, criticize, suggest and appreciate.

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See you across the wormhole to the indeterminate future where I write my next post.

If I Kept A Journal: A Long Journey

It was a bright, warm, yellow-hued November morning, or so I fancied. Outside, the world stubbornly hung on to the last few dregs of heat, which struggled to break free from the embraces of the soil. It was an annual ritual dating back hundreds of thousands of years.

Inside however, as I sat thinking these inconsequential thoughts, a slight tremble ran up my arms, bearing out some unknown vendetta against the pages of my notebook through my terrible handwriting. I wonder, if every object had a soul to call its own, could we sully it or reduce its purity by our influence, as I sullied the chastity of the page through my pen?

I rocked left and right, unable or perhaps unwilling to fight the inertia of it. I had been commuting this way my entire life, and I had long given up the feverish agitation of fighting with it when I was a younger, more headstrong man. As such, I let the swaying take me with it, and thus, tarnished the sheet of paper that I drafted this on. A journalist might have termed it ‘collateral damage’.

Beside me, a grandmother plays with her fifteen pound bundle of joy, while the mother carefully manoeuvres her boiled eggs. I see her hitting it on the table several times lightly, making a dull tap-tap-tapping, never quite hitting the same spot because of the rocking, and then peeling it piece by small piece. In comparison, I felt like a savage brute because earlier I had rapped my eggs,once each, hard on the selfsame table, and stripped them naked in two smooth motions, first one half, which the egg readily gave up, and then the second, which required a little coaxing. Now she salts and peppers her own, emptying the little sachets, perhaps hoping to re-cover the eggs, like a change of clothes. The eggs seem to suffocate, much like her son in his multiple sweaters and balaclava, still with the kindly grandmother. She relieved it presently, pinching the excessive salt and putting it away. I imagine this is a technique to infuse taste into the eggs that I don’t know of, because she is older than I am, and hence must be wiser.

As they proceed to put the now snoozing baby in a more comfortable position, I partake in that most annoying habit that the youth today seem to love – I put my earphones in and shut the world out. As Adam Young sings ‘Gold’, my thoughts drift to her who shares my name in part and, if the powers that be will it, might some day share my name in full. I’m headed to her presently, and will see her in two days.

A falcon swoops close outside, shaking me from my reverie. I look at the ray of sunbeam opposite me, swathed in its sweaters and blankets, blissfully unaware of the world in his sleep as he is when awake. The soulful beats of The Speed of Sound ring in my ears as I look at him, enjoying what he and the six or so others like him nearby had taken from me at six in the morning today. I hold no grudge though. It’s ten A.M. now, and there is a lot of brown outside as we’re at a standstill. The ugliness of the minor stop and the toilet on it, characterized by brown, disappear as we jerk forward, resuming the familiar to-and-fro.

My present situation bars me from doing much but think. As Maroon 5 gives me Captain Splendid and Future Kid for an encore, the names of those songs direct my attention to my uncertain future. Much energy has been funneled into that sinkhole over the past week, and I force my thoughts elsewhere – into an imaginary situation, like a lucid dream. I employ this tactic often, consciously or unconsciously, and I like to imagine it keeps me sane.

For a moment, I put the pen down and straightened up, and my gaze strayed to the right. My pensive torpor evaporated when I saw a creamy blue sky and an expanse of lush green below it. In my shock, I looked to the left, and surely enough, the dull yellow permeated the landscape. I repeatedly looked both ways to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating from the mild chill. I wasn’t sure if the heavens were showing me something, if the sun dried up an area in particular, as if to show me that the lord giveth to the right and the lord taketh away from the left, or if the windows merely needed cleaning. Fascination! Then one of those moments of appreciation and gratitude came upon me, when we realize for a moment, just for a moment before the ego returns, how tiny and inconsequential we are in the universe. Coldplay brings these moods upon me often, and here I find, it returns after the small lapse!

You & I

So I was talking to a certain someone and something I said clicked, and I penned this down quickly. Hope you enjoy it.

 

You know, you’re not perfect.
Far from it, nothing like it.
It might never be true,
The concept is alien.
But then, neither am I.

Trying to push you away,
But it’s not possible,
The feelings are in tandem,
And soon I must listen.

You get closer, then farther,
And there’s only so much,
I can do to stay sane now.

You’ll be within reach soon,
And I cannot forget…

You and I.

A Thoroughly Incomprehensive and Unstructured Analysis of Connotations

Implied meanings can alter the communicated message, often unwittingly, and hence affect judgement. This is the reason that so many companies and organizations pay special attention to effective communication skills.

Introduction

At the risk of being unoriginal, I begin by defining a connotation[1], which is an idea or feeling that a word invokes for a person in addition to its literal or primary meaning. Many wouldn’t notice, but the title itself had multiple connotations. When I say incomprehensive, I mean that it isn’t detailed enough to be a thesis[2]. When I say unstructured, I mean that it is free-flowing and presents ideas in a form I see fit, and not in a generally accepted format. However, many would take the misleading heading to mean a lack of direction or form, and would immediately pass judgement on the author[3].

As such, we see that implied meanings can alter the communicated message, often unwittingly, and hence affect judgement. This is the reason that so many companies and organizations pay special attention to effective communication skills. The study of connotations, denotations and meaning in general is called semantics, and is a complex and subjective study.

Illustration[4]

Negative: There are over 2,000 vagrants in the city.

Neutral: There are over 2,000 people with no fixed address in the city.

Positive: There are over 2,000 homeless in the city.

While the sentences all reference the same people, ‘vagrants’ implies people who are a nuisance to the general populace, while ‘homeless’ seems to indicate a person deserving pity and help.

Impact

While the effect connotations have on general conversation and communication has been made clear, it is noteworthy that the degree to which a nuance is skewed increases over time, largely due to what is referred to in economics as “The Bandwagon Effect[5]”, and through circulation in education and mass media.

The most stark and effective example is the broad[6] region of political correctness, videlicet, the terms used to identify racial differences. In the case of those of African descent, the most commonly used terms are Negro, black, African-American and the pejorative ‘nigger’. While ‘nigger’ is definitely a contemptuous term originated from supremist colonists, the other three terms are still in general use. In the mid-20th century, ‘black’ was considered a more offensive term, and ‘coloured’ and ‘negro’ were the more polite terms. However, during the American Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, some black American leaders in the United States, notably Malcolm X, objected to the word, preferring Black, because they associated the word Negro with the long history of slavery, segregation, and discrimination that treated African Americans as second class citizens, or worse[7].

All three terms are still in use, though comedian Russell Peters has objected to the term African-American, stating that “You guys are not African.”

Another, not quite so obvious example is that of the word “nerd”. Originally and still meaning “a person who is single-mindedly skilled in a particular profession or discipline”, it attained a negative connotation largely due to Hollywood influence, eventually used to stereotypically describe socially inept and often extremely intelligent high school students. With rapid changes in fashion, particularly in the mid-2000s, the stereotypical portrayal of a bottom of the barrel student became the next big thing, and before you know it, glasses with heavy frames, coats and bowties became commonplace, eventually gaining its own niche in young adult fashion[8]. This change brought in another level to the meaning of the word, and has somewhat equalized and balanced out the extremities of implication of the word, whether positive or negative.

However, that is not all. The concept of implication, like other concepts, is also evolving and this is especially true of trends originating in and propagating through the internet. The connotations skew so much that eventually a secondary or tertiary meaning begins to be associated with the word. The greeting of “What’s up?[9]”, made popular by Bugs Bunny, is now a general indication of boredom in a conversation. It serves as a filler or as a silence-breaker, wherein the conversationalist reinitiates talks that have become dull or have been awkwardly paused due to some reason.

Example:

A: … and that is how to perform integral calculus on trigonometric identities.

B: Great. Thanks for all your help.

A: …

B: … So, sup?

Another example of change of meaning is of a word routine in talk nowadays – “Gay”. Originally, the word only meant carefree and/or happy. This meaning eventually began to exaggerate, enough that it attained a connotation of wickedness or sin[10]. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, it began to be used as a term to describe homosexuality, so much so that nearing the end of the 20th century, LGBT[11]  groups recommended it be used exclusively to describe people attracted to people of the same gender. However, the negative connotation also intensified around the same time (1970s), being used to mean “rubbish” or “stupid”. Hence both meanings are still used, and this can be accredited with being part of the reason that the gay community is still harshly ostracized. The ridicule that this word implies would be glaringly obvious if one would read the comment section of a popular YouTube video.[12] The use of this word has been criticized as homophobic, and a 2006 BBC ruling by the Board of Governors advised “caution on its use” for the following reason: “The word ‘gay’ in addition to being used to mean ‘homosexual’ or ‘carefree’, was often now used to mean ‘lame’ or ‘rubbish’. This is a widespread current usage of the word amongst young people… The word ‘gay’ … need not be offensive… or homophobic…”

A lot, lot more can be said on the topic and every word may be analysed separately, but having dealt with a few of the more important or prevalent ones, it would be safe to conclude that semantics and communication are delicate skills, and extreme caution needs to be exercised in their use, because as was indicated, a clever pun, or a simple remark may get in vogue, and cause major changes in the landscape of trends and language in the future.


[1] From the bluntly named ‘Dictionary.com’

[2] A thousand word piece can hardly be called a dissertation now, can it?

[3] Id est myself. Referring to oneself in third person is so narcissistic, isn’t it?

[5] The Bandwagon Effect is a form of groupthink which states that the more the number of people having adopted a concept, the greater the proportion of people tending to adopt the concept id est ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’ syndrome.

[6] (and suffocatingly obnoxious and bootlicking)

[7] From ‘during’ onward, I lifted the whole thing from Wikipedia. It’s so succinctly put.

[8] There are two such niches – ‘nerd’ which is hardcore role-playing such as dungarees and polka dots, and ‘hipster’, which is much more mellow and makes nerd look cool.

[9] Often abbreviated to the slang “Sup?”

[10] As per Wikipedia, around 1637.

[11] Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender – This term was coined later. At the time, more offensive terms may have been in use, such as the still prevalent ‘queer’.

[12] “Everyone that you hate is fake, gay or a fag” (abbreviation of the already distasteful ‘faggot’) – Ray William Johnson, Internet comedian and musician.

Thank you for taking the time out of your schedules to read my work. Please feel free to comment, criticize, suggest and appreciate. :)

WordPress – GrammarMantis

Facebook – Vaibhav Gupta

Twitter – Vaibhavshaali

Daylight

I’m amazed that not one looks up now, hoping to see

Falling cherry blossoms or dollar bills from heaven.

The first time I sat next to her after we became

Lovers, nor teenage, nor adult, I clenched her hand loose.

She pulled away, shy, perhaps a little  hint of shame.

 

The ice thawed out today, and I looked to the rivers,

In the end, we are after all alone when we die,

Happy ever after is a myth; Here and now is

A sample in this experiment, that tells us why

We struggle, and chase, and run; ’tis just to keep this bliss.

 

A one-second hug gives twelve minutes of happiness,

That’s a pretty good bargain. I’ll take a few dozen.

The rain came in today, and I looked up to the sky,

And hoped, and prayed, and wished for some serendipity,

And affirmed to myself to never once see her cry.

 

The forecast is no longer gloomy, not anymore,

The skies were invitingly bare, not a cloud in sight.

I lay on the lush grass with my head in her warm lap,

My affections soared out like a flock of birds in flight,

The daylight shone through today, on her face, through the gap.

 

I was afraid of the dark, and of the cold wetness,

That stirs quiet in my head. And when the daylight came,

I looked up gingerly, squinting to escape the glow

Of the edge of her silhouette, her eternal flame.

The daylight shone through today, and I won’t let her go.

 

The State of Things – July 2012

To the five people who subscribe to this blog, I’m sorry I don’t write more often. I am having a terrible day today, which seems an appropriate time for this post (which I’ve been planning for a couple of days).

When I say “The State of Things”, I mean to speak of stuff in my life which I find significant. This is not a news bulletin.

Firstly, I have a fear (which was the original idea for this post). I fear I’m losing my individuality as I become an adult. In our media and literature, we call it growing up or maturing, but I don’t care for big words (in this case). I find I play video games lesser, and read less often for pleasure. I’ve drastically reduced dancing and writing. I don’t remember the last time I drew. I become somber and grim in an accelerated manner, and have started weighing my words more often (though several people have found that a slight improvement). I worry about my weight and I get tired the moment college ends. If you would, please give me your opinion on whether my fear is irrational.

I find several of my skills improving at meteoric speeds. I have recovered from my stuttering and speak much more eloquently now, even making references and allusions from time to time. That makes me feel less out of place in conversations with Abhishek, Puru, and my sister, among other people. Though when it comes to the first two, as the Hindi saying goes, “Delhi abhi door hai.”

I’m short-listed to deliver a 2 minute speech in our college auditorium tomorrow. I guess the teachers feel I speak well.

My typing seems to be on steroids now. I reckon I average 61 words a minute on a good day.

Speaking of good days, I had one yesterday. I had had no sleep that night and no breakfast, but I had finished two pending assignments and I was content the whole day. Today was as if the sin curve just went past the 180 degrees mark.

For those who didn’t understand the Math reference.

I’m in a relationship now. It brings me joy, but in fits and bursts. Still, worth it.

My classmates and friends expect me to be my boisterous jolly self all the time. Granted, that side of my personality is A LOT MORE fun to be around than my surly,  grave, somber, Debby-Downer-like self ( When I feel the blues I feel the dark ones). But people need to understand that I reserve the right to my feelings, and I cannot be happy all the time. In fact, I feel the need to be more solemn now, not to be taken more seriously (which I’m glad and proud to say, I am) but because I tire myself out being the way I am.

I miss Kolkata and the people in it.

#NowPlaying Maroon 5. Those guys are seriously good. Other than that, trolling the top 20 of Billboard, as usual.

I’m going to stop now because I’m slipping back into writer’s block, and I don’t feel like sharing other things that I feel strongly about, and I feel that continuing will be floundering even worse.

Thank you for reading.

Rubber Band

Bear with me while I narrate an experiment for you to try. Take an ordinary rubber band and put it on a level surface; a table will do. Now use as many of your own digits (fingers and thumbs) as you like and stretch the band out, while keeping it on the table. With some effort, you should make a small polygon. You probably used two indices and two thumbs and hence should get a square.

Now take the same number of paperclips as the number of digits you used and hook them to the rubber band. I’m assuming you used four, so four paperclips. Keeping one digit on each paperclip and pulling, try forming the same polygon. It should be a lot easier to do now.

So what was the result of this experiment? Let’s review.

You kept a circular band on a surface and forced it out of its natural shape. It resisted, but the resistance weakened upon using implements (paper clips).

As with everything, philosophical ideas can be derived from this simple experiment too. This is where the post gets slightly depressing, so be warned.

Philosophy ahead

We have several components to consider here. The band itself, the digits, the clips and the table. First, let’s consider the most constant piece – the table, and use it as a metaphor for a person. Ordinary table, therefore ordinary person. In that case, what of the rubber band that is at all times on the table? It follows that the rubber band then becomes the human psyche. The rubber band is round – circular – the symbol for wholeness, and left alone, the psyche is whole. It is complete. But when you introduce worldly objects (Case in point: the digits and the clips), they become ‘hooks’ on the psyche that pull it apart, just like the clips become ‘hooks’ on the rubber band and change it. Eventually, with enough pulling, they would tear it apart.

That leaves the digits. What of them? One would say they are external influences, maybe people, ill-wishers, problem-makers, jokers, riddlers, two-faces, and the like.

The message of this little press is that everyone is a rubber band, and that there are always influences out there. Your thickness will save you from being torn apart, and if you are not torn apart, you will regain your composure and peace and become whole. Bear trouble. Shoulder it, but don’t get crushed under it. Believe that everything will work out for the best and everything will.

Thank you for taking the time out of your schedules to read my work. Please feel free to comment, criticize, suggest and appreciate. :)

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The Joys of Story-less Gaming

Don’t get me wrong. I’m an RPG guy through and through. Even though I can’t run a lot of hardcore stuff on my PC.

Out of My League
Out of My League

Actually, that might be one of the reasons I ALSO enjoy story-less games. To clarify, “story-less games” isn’t a moniker for RPGs that failed, or for something like… South Park: The Game. (I’d say No Offense, but it’s South Park. There’s back atcha.) When I say story-less games, I mean simple, repetitive, endless-cascade games like Ninjump, Line Runner, TETRIS, PAC-MAN – you get the idea.

Badass.

So why do I find these games entertaining? Because that’s what they are supposed to be. I love them for the same reason I love trashy action movies – it’s simple entertainment. They raise the question, or rather the challenge – “Sure you can do [it], but how long can you keep it up?” It’s rather addictive that way.

Secondly, it can foster competition among close friends. Ninjump became a battle with my PG-mates, until the high score got too high for the casual player. Childish competition like this is a great pastime and keeps one young at heart (My readership, being the age they are, might scoff, cough or otherwise write this off).

Thirdly, these fill gaps. We encounter several situations where we are forced to wait a period of time long enough to be unproductive and boring, but not long enough to set up a large game or movie. Most of this type of game and small in size and are supported by today’s smartphone generation. They are ready in seconds and over in minutes (bar the South Korean players who linger at the top of leaderboards. Seriously, those guys have patience.). You can play them in cars, while you are waiting for your turn at the clinic or salon, and several such situations.

Fourthly, the game, by virtue of its nature, doesn’t gravitate you towards itself in the sense that with games following a storyline and usually having high-end graphics nowadays, there is a distracting “I GOTS TA KNOW!” emotion, which is absent in these small games. These games are not dangerously distracting. Not a major point to make, but a positive selling point for parents who refuse to buy their kids gaming consoles (The two major reasons being price and distraction from studies).

Hence, the occasional Line Runner session keeps me awake between sleepy situations and boring gaps, and I hope I was able to make my point without beating around the bush too much.

Thank you for taking the time out of your schedules to read my work. Please feel free to comment, criticize, suggest and appreciate. :)

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Release

Started in a moment of weakness, finished in a moment of calculation. Hope you like it.

He is not me, I am not he,
So many whims to live upto.
Forget he looks the same as me,
People hide behind honeyed words.
He holds respect; nothing for me,
Every mistake passed off as naught.

He is not me and I am not he,
Bold are the words of the strong-minded.
Forget that he looks the same as me,
They keep their backs erect and spines straight.
He holds high regard; nothing for me,
Each flaw of the foe a travesty.

He is not me, surely I am not he,
Business as normal no matter what.
Forget he looks mostly the same as me,
Their judgement flows from their eyes as through words.
He holds admiration; nothing for me.
Will I ever sate their burning hunger?

 

Thank you for taking the time out of your schedules to read my work. Please feel free to comment, criticize, suggest and appreciate. :)

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Not So Nifty Names

So as I was walking along (YES, I was actually walking along a road. Deal with it), I started to think what it would be like if names of people would be conjunctions, prepositions or similarly common words. Apart from the imminent demise of society and the end of civilization as we know it, it would reference people all the time. There would be a lot of “Huh?”s, “Yes?”s and “Did you call?”s. And what if someone was actually called Huh or Yes?

Okay, now you're just effing with me.

Anyway, so instead of pursuing that thought further, I decided to see what names would fit some of my friends. So, for the first time in this blog, I will be using real names. Do not troll these people, or I will punch you in the throat.

Right there.

I HAVE to start with Somdatta now. It seems the compulsion. 😛
And the word I pick for her is (drumroll please)…

Sit.

I did say common words. Now if she was called sit, I could never discuss so many things with her – Sitting in the shade of a sycamore tree, sitting in class, dog tricks, Inu Yasha and so many more things. :/ And if I called her sit, she’d probably call me something like vat. Now I know that I’m very exhausting and taxing on your soul, but that’s a bit too much, don’t you think?

Like that. :I

Moving on,

I thought about 2 more people – Amala and Srishma, and both of them are very inactive on Facebook (non-existent even), so no trolling. Ha ha!

Amala I named ‘and’ for some reason, and it was really fun trolling her through SMS today with simple “And?”s and “And what?”s. 😀 And seems to suit her as a name because she manages to shut me up and all I find myself able to say often is “And?”. And if we all called Amala ‘and’, then Srishma would never be able to talk at all, because the poor girl speaks fast, nervously AND continuously. 😛

Coming to Srishma, I thought I’d name her ‘is’, and my brain was making connections like “I is thin, like Srishma.” and (AND) “Is IS a small word, like Srishma is tiny.” AND “S for Srishma.” and what not.

And thus ends an exercise in futility which started well and ended up disappointing  described the three people I talk to the most nowadays. I love all three in all different ways, and to make up for not enough comic material in this piece, I’d like to start a ripped-off game tradition. I ask a question and if you like, you can leave an answer in the comments.

So the question this time is “What common-word-name would you give me, and what word do you think would suit you?”

But thank you for taking the time out of your schedules to read my work. Please feel free to comment, criticize, suggest and appreciate. :)

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Facebook – Vaibhav Gupta

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