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Newsletter: Martian Pandas

Helloooo! Guess what’s starting this weekend? Brand-new episodes!

It’s our sixth season as an independent national show and the show’s 15th season overall. We’ve come a long way from the crystal radio transmitter and kazoo backing band.

During the 2011-12 season, we recorded 30 brand-new episodes. That’s possible, in part, thanks to your donations. More donations equals more episodes, which is why we do more new episodes each season than we did the season before.

We re-aired the 22 best episodes during holidays and a few weeks in the summer. Those are the reruns.

So if we’re not making new episodes, what are we doing?

Oh, we’re working. We’re most definitely working.

One thing we do during the off-season is answer a shed-load of email. It’s so much email that if it were paper instead of electrons, it would look like a parade down Fifth Avenue. We never catch up with our email, but we do try.

Another thing we do is give speeches, workshops, and presentations to companies, schools, colleges and universities, business fraternities, you name it. We speak a lot in San Diego (where we’re based), but elsewhere in the country, too.

We’re out there spreading the word that good language is the key to everything (including our relationships with each other), and that some of it is just plain interesting in its own right.

To misquote Ralph Emerson (and Socrates), we believe the unexamined language isn’t worth speaking, or writing. So we’re hired to help people do that, or to just be entertained by the oddball stuff we have to tell them.

A typical example: A couple of weeks ago we had the pleasure of leading a workshop for writers, editors, and other communicators at Intuit, on the company’s handsome Mountain View, California, campus. What’s not to love about a room full of intelligent folks who care about speaking and writing well?

Another example: Next Friday, Grant will be hosting an evening of readings (with refreshments) by some of San Diego’s best writers at the Mingei International Museum in San Diego. It’s different way to focus on language, but it’s the same message: let’s all communicate better.

To see other upcoming events, and to get us for one of your events, visit our public events page.

Quick Tidbits

• On Facebook, Bruce Williams, commented about the word pre-planned: “Pre-planned”? Arggh! Is there any other kind of plan?” It’s familiar complaint, but it turns out that English-speakers have come up with a special use for pre-plan: We tend to use it to mean “plan very well in advance of an expected event,” which pushes plain old “plan” to mean something more like “prepare and arrange actions needed in case of an uncertain event.” So pre-plan is 1) very far in advance and 2) we know it’s going to happen, and plan is 1) maybe not so far in advance and 2) we’re not sure at all if it’s going to happen.

• Grant’s been thinking a lot about dictionaries. Yes, a LOT.

• Martha’s been thinking about pandas and Mars.

• There’s a delightful discussion thread on Reddit about what happens when people speak in a foreign language — but they don’t know you can understand them! It’s filled with delicious “I know what you said” moments. One of our favorites:

I was on an Amtrak with my boyfriend who was watching West Wing, and as it was 8AM, I just didn’t have it in me to really enjoy it so I opted to read my book instead. We were sitting at one of the tables with two benches opposite one another, and there were two french ladies in their mid sixties sitting across from us. They were having a great conversation in French, and then I heard one of them go (essentially): “Oh! The boys in every country, they are all the same. You put a pretty girl next to them, a girl they think will stay there, and they’d rather watch a screen. You take the pretty girl away and they go chasing after her, saying they never want to look at anything else.”

• Did you know that the entirety of the last five seasons of our show are available for listening on SoundCloud? It’s like YouTube for audio that works on every device we’ve tried it on.

New Sponsor

This week we welcome a new sponsor, The Ken Blanchard Companies, a provider of comprehensive leadership development training and executive coaching solutions. Thanks to Ken and the rest of our new friends there. We invite you to check them out.

Find out how to reach our national audience on behalf of your company.

Best wishes and fried fishes,


Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett

co-hosts of A Way with Words

Photo of the parade by The McClouds. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Photo of a Coldplay concert by Matthewthecoolguy. Used under a Creative Commons license.

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