First produced at the Public Theater in to great acclaim, The Normal Heart has been mounted several more times at Off-Broadway venues in the intervening 25 years, in addition to dozens of regional stagings. The new production, directed by Joel Grey with an assist by George C. Wolfe , will mark not only the 25th anniversary revival of Kramer's seminal work, but also the play's Broadway debut. Set in the months between July and May , The Normal Heart examines the fraught, distressing and devastating advent of the AIDS epidemic in a frightened gay community, through the stories of a group of gay men living in New York City, one of the epicenters of the disease outbreak in its early days.
In the end, they refuse to let doctors, politicians and the press hide the truth of the AIDS crisis behind a wall of silence and outright denial. Many of the themes of the play — from gay marriage, to the broken healthcare system, to the disease crisis itself — are still as relevant today as they were when the play first premiered 25 years ago. There's also this doom about it, because there's this thing that they're trying to work at and fix and get the word out as fast as they can.
With this defiant play of outspoken agitprop, Kramer, who in co-founded the radical AIDS activist group ACT-UP, gave voice to a minority group that had been violently discriminated against for hundreds of years and that was beginning to suffer from a devastating plague the likes of which had never been seen. And there's no real medical information for what's going on," Parsons says. And nobody can be very specific about exactly how this thing is happening. And people don't know how to stop it and how to even protect yourself from it.
In the early days of the epidemic, Kramer had helped establish the Gay Men's Health Crisis, but later criticized the group for their tactics, which he saw as impotent and tepid in response to a seemingly indifferent government. The character of Ned works for a similar organization in the play. Kramer's ACT-UP became one of the most outspoken and effective direct action groups fighting the AIDS crisis, staging dramatic and creative protests that were widely covered by the national media. And obviously I sound like an idiot when I say that out loud," says Parsons, with charming self-deprecation.
In a review of a revival of The Normal Heart , New York Times critic Ben Brantley called Parsons' character, Tommy Boatwright, "a droll, drawling gay boy who emerges as a figure of refreshing sanity" in the play. Says Parsons, "One of his other first lines is, 'I'm a hospital administrator, and I'm a Southern bitch. So he's flying his Southern flag very proudly. Parsons points out that in his character's first scene in The Normal Heart , during a meeting of activists as the epidemic is beginning to unfold, Tommy says that "he's interested in setting up a telephone hotline because there are going to be scared patients out there who are going to need information and comforting, who are going to need somebody to talk to and to listen to them and maybe help guide then when they are first diagnosed or first have an onset of symptoms.
And I don't think it's too armchair psychologist to say that providing comfort to others obviously provides him some comfort in this scary time of uncertainty. This is something that he can do — and he feels that he can do it well — helping to provide information and comfort to those who are scared and sick. He is very interested in kind of getting down and dirty with it.
Whatever happens or however we solve this crisis, we have to 'take care of these people and 'and hold the dying patient,' as he says. Parsons says that Tommy's way of coping with the crisis "just so happens to be a very practical way of dealing with the situation that's also eminently and immediately useful. Tommy is trying to make his own difference in a way that has an immediate effect. It can provide immediate comfort; it can provide immediate assistance. And I think audiences will connect with that. In his own life, Parsons says that he personally copes with challenges or hurdles in life in a similar manner as Tommy.
The sitting around and the worrying is just dismal — and frankly it can send you into a catatonic state. His way of coping is to just keep moving. But I don't know that [Tommy's way of coping] is any less neurotic. But I do think that it's more visibly, immediately useful in a way. You see that something's actually getting done. Nobody is perfect. Might try taking your own advice, Diane! Grammar posts are comment magnets every time. Either will distract the reader and muddy your efforts to clearly communicate your ideas. If I were — something that is never going to happen.
If I was — something that could happen. For example:. Great piece. One that always trips me up is the use of adverbs. Probably yes, but it can lead to some cumbersome sentences. Regardless, good to see there are at least others on this blog who also suffer a language pedantry affliction. Will we ever recover? I just did a little research, which I should have done before asking my question!
I found this stated in several websites. In there was a push for gender neutral pronouns worldwide, not just in America and the other countries mentioned above. Then in the 19th Century the tide turned again. It was started by a feministed school teacher. Sometimes a gender is evident and then the appropriate pronoun is used. Now why did I take the time to go into the information above?
I wanted to make a few points. So you can understand, most likely, why people are still using it at the present, even though it is considered incorrect by many grammarians.
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Finally, I wanted to say that finding a good solution for a universal pronoun is difficult for many. I find the invented pronouns just plain goofy! Take the article with a grain of salt. The only rule is that the rules will change over time… so to speak. This is but a snapshot of a language in motion, and with English spoken all over the world, cannot be accurate in every context. We no longer use the same English language that we used in the 10th century, or the 16th century.
If someone is obsessive over using perfectly correct grammar, it could actually HINDER them from communicating effectively. Still, it never ceases to amaze me how popular these grammar discussions are. Reading the comments here has led me to ask about one other aggravation though this comes from my punctuation wench, not from from grammar wench , and it is this: when did it become acceptable for people to cease using question marks when asking a question?
What is that about?
The Unaired Pilot
This distresses me. Cheers, all! Whilst in confession mode, I also split my infinitives if I think it makes a sentence read better and I regularly abuse dashes and points of elipsis. Why do English teachers in school find it very difficult to teach the subjunctive mood of the verb to their students? Yet you explained it very well and made it so easy to understand! Great write-up! I, too, am obsessed in finding grammatical errors on blogs though, of course, at times, I make mistakes, too.
Gives me the shivers just writing it. Well, I must admit I am a little nervous to leave a comment that will be full of bad grammar and punctuation. Some bloggers insist that grammar is not that important, but that a little bad grammar shows their personality. So, good for you! By the way, one of my weaknesses is using commas everywhere and way too much…maybe you can do an article on punctuation next time!
Like other parts of language, punctuation is also subject to change. I particularly like the interrobang. At last. I now feel free to move forward with my life. The relevant grammar rule is that a pronoun should agree in number with its antecedent. Why am I still reading this blog I ask myself. I should be asleep.
Please stop posting — I need to be up in four hours …. Myself is going to the mall. Sam and I are going to the mall. I am going to the mall. I literally love this! Great visuals! I then blame in on my journalism degree and the faculty supervisor that ripped my writing to shreds when I wrote for the Oklahoma Daily many years ago. A couple of other pet peeves come to mind: unique and first annual.
Unique means one of a kind. Feel free us use that sentence in any post about overused metaphors. Thanks, Jan. Good points. It is evolving constantly and things that were not okay a long time ago, seem to be acceptable now. My partners English is not good, but my maths are lousy and he is a whiz on that score.
Anyone got any help on that one. It is a source of amusement between the two of us. It sounds fine and makes perfect sense to everyone reading it. Then let me be the first to say you are nitpicking. Drew : I shall give it a go. Thank you for the learning, Johnny. Best regards, P. I require constant reminders although I excelled in grammar in my youth and even worked as a junior editor years ago.
I appreciate that you cover a few common errors to brush up on, rather than a long list that is likely to blur together. The best tip I ever received from an editor: If you do not have access to an editor have anyone read your piece before publishing. Any sentence they stumble on should be checked for errors, or simplified if none found. If your guinea pig stumbles, others will too even if the grammar is officially correct. Lachy: There already is such a blog.
If nothing else, I can vouch for the latter meaning. Just read through any rulebook published by White Wolf Games. BTW, I remember being taught in grammar school that putting oneself last in a list of people was considered polite. My personal pet language peeve is semantic rather than grammatical. Meg: whether or not a question is rhetorical has precious little read: nothing to do with punctuation.
Else, they are statements. End of story. Work on points for style later — get the message across first. Have to disagree on 2. The more general point about subject-verb agreement is important, though. Certainly there are rules that apply in any situation but language is a living, breathing thing and must be flexible. Contractions can help your writing sound more natural. I encounter this in almost every article I edit. Just kidding, sort of. Thanks for sharing. Only better.
Dump the rest, as in the pretentious subjunctive and the cumbersome he or she construction to make subject-predicate agreement work. Andy Wood : I get the gist of your post and mostly agree. If I had to choose one thing to judge the merits of a piece of writing, it is the quality of the content, not the grammar.
If you use perfect English and your writing is repetitive, boring or borders on plagiarism, then correct verb-subject agreement means little to me. Other elements of communication are far more important. Are you all so picky about it? To think that two nations, over a period of more than years, would develop separations in their common language… unthinkable!
We may have a lot of bad habits in this country, but I daresay that the English currently spoken in Great Britain is a far cry from the English that was spoken there years ago. In many dialects, it is already just about equivalent — regardless of how much it annoys you. Something else will take its place or has. Semantic shift happens in every living language. In the medical world, this is something that would require the use of suppositories. Anyone else bothered by this one?
While I guess literally is used accurately in these cases, it just seems unnecessary most of the time. A worthy cause indeed for those writers who take pride in their craft to rise up and counter the onslaught of excuses for poor grammar—from just being conversational to Blackberry and text language. It has been said that education is expensive, but not as expensive as ignorance. With these writing habits becoming widely acceptable, what will be the cost? Funny, though, how some terms become used by the medical community and lose their other meanings.
It has been relatively stable even since ancient Latin times. In all seriousness, this article was practical and I was able to put it to use immediately. A hundred times, thank you! I like what Johnny had wrote. Its literally earth shaking. We all gots things we could get improved on with grammar. Irregardless: if you had went to look up a lot of this stuff you would have saw that its rite. By the way, for those taking notes, notice how much more attention this post gets from Johnny not trying to have the entire discussion in the post.
Sure, some of these are subject to regional variation or can be argued for as common usage. Sonia — Exactly. I do not know everything. There are as many people vehemently fighting on one side of an issue as there are on the other. Chimps are funny. This post is currently the ninth most popular post on Copyblogger, ranking by number of comments and pingbacks. That makes me happy. If you have been given suppositories for your impacted wisdom tooth, you need to change your dentist. Funny, because it is improperly used so often. Subjects, verbs, nouns, reflexive, etc…. Thanks for the refresher.
Great bit. That advice seems to help them break the habit! I hear it everywhere. Sometimes it makes me want to scream at the person talking. Come to Australia for a visit. Gimmier lickerish trap an some chicken-an look, fellers, no hens. The best thing is to have a sense of humour and thanks for some of the hilarious input.
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For all intensive purposes, I hardly never sound like a chimp. I prefer screeching hyena. These are great. The an historic one is pretty bad. Nice but you left our my most hated one. It makes me grind me teeth and want to punch the person who writes it. I do think myself has developed an emphatic role which I can sometimes tolerate, but most times it sounds stupid. This ship has sailed. Your best hope is to learn to love it. Try it out at least twice a day till it feels natural. Otherwise, you are doomed to fuddyduddyville. Absolutely right. And if literally loses its meaning how will we distinguish the real from the false?
Other than common sense, I mean. I hate relying on that. Literally hate it. WTF is with that? Extremely helpful!!! I always make a mistake on that one. The word they with its counterparts them, their, and themselves as a singular pronoun to refer to a person of unspecified sex has been used since at least the 16th century. It makes it seem like I am bragging and is just filling up space with no need for it. Everyone began looking for their books at once.
Such use is not a recent development, nor is it a mark of ignorance.
- Pillole di Cina - Zhōngguó (Italian Edition).
- Selected Poems.
- Quick Home Sales with Feng Shui.
Shakespeare, Swift, Shelley, Scott, and Dickens, as well as many other English and American writers, have used they and its forms to refer to singular antecedents. Already widespread in the language though still rejected as ungrammatical by some , this use of they, their, and them is increasing in all but the most conservatively edited American English. This increased use is at least partly impelled by the desire to avoid the sexist implications of he as a pronoun of general reference.
Bock, my 5th grade English teacher for giving me the simplest of litmus tests. Parsons out of the sentence. When it doubt, the simplest way to figure out what to use is to leave the other folks out of the sentence. Parsons and me. Great piece of writing. As you say, once or twice is acceptable, any more and my interest is lost.
When interesting titles go bad. Article good. Misleading title that had nothing to do with the post bad. An historically bad title myself was not soon to forget. Nice article, and no argument with the grammar points. Although we may not like it, language changes.
5 Grammar Mistakes that Make You Sound Like a Chimp - Copyblogger
And there are always those that hate to let go. In the rule Was vs Were, what would be the case in the event it was used to describe an action of someone else, i.
This made my day! Grammar nerdery is a wonderful thing. I have to stop following this thread, as it shows all signs of going on forever. But until then …. Pretty entertaining stuff! Thanks for this post, John! Very interesting article! Many people with native language different than english do common sense errors in their blogs instead promoting clean and crisp language…. This was driving me crazy the other day. Every source I checked seemed to have a different opinion.
Fly, be free. Worry about fluency. And if you already have it, then stop worrying about language and get on with it. Well, yes. He split an infinitive. To me, writing should be invisible. I am trying to communicate a very specific message, and anything that undermines my communication is defeating my object. So I try to avoid them. Just as I try to avoid showing off in a way that might impress and so interrupt the flow of another 10 percent. Of course, none of this works for a readership that comprises professional writers, because everyone in that group will scrutinize every word.
No, Marc. I should have said that I recommend that good writers—like good chefs—should focus on their goals to turn on readers or diners rather than to show off too obviously their technical skills. Wow, you literally cut poeple up — including myself — chewed them, and and then spat them out! Truth is, I hate the man or woman who makes these mistakes, too. Are they an hillbilly or something? Just so everyone knows, this post has made me paranoid. See how flexible I am? It just drives me crazy literally! Chimps abound, apparently. Could it concern something other than simply just ignorance?
That it shows up in writing demonstrates the way in which grammar is shaped. Oh Johnny… you had me.
I was literally ha going to start telling all that would listen about your brilliance, your beauty surely all grammar snobs are beautiful , your… hmmm, what is the word? Your rightness. After centuries of church doctrine resulting in schism after schism, a rather stereotyped picture of Parson and Mrs. Parson has gradually emerged.
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