Gangnam (APA) Style

by The Untamed Shrew and Rampage Productions

In the immortal words of Cleavon Little, excuse me while I whip this out.  This, in this particular context, is my APA style book and not… You know what – I’m going to abort this sentence.  Now.  Right now.

I’m not sure what the general familiarity is with academic citation.  Presuming none, let it be said that it’s a generally accepted practice in college-level writing that, upon making a claim, one references the book, magazine, journal, or cosmic vibe that put such a harebrained thought into your skull.  This is for the convenience of other academics who will then use the information to mock you in their own papers conclusively disproving your thesis, which you can then counter-use to conclusively disprove the academics who conclusively disproved your previous thesis while simultaneously implying they’re doo-doo heads.

And so the circle of passive aggressiveness continues.

I feel an Elton John moment coming on.



Returning to the act of citation – or, as it is known by college students the world over, “that thing you sometimes do when you’re mostly sober” – APA (American Psychological Association) style is something of an unknown to me, being an English major and having forged the steel of my literary ability in MLA (Modern Language Association) style, also known as “that thing they keep changing every other freakin’ year.”  Yet my entrance into graduate academia has brought the foreign scourge of APA upon our household.  Enter the internets and the Purdue OWL.

Grammar Owl says, “Whom?” not “Who?”

Grammar Owl says, “Whom?” not “Who?”

My findings, in relation to APA style, are as follows (quotations in italics):

1. Pronouns are, apparently, of the devil.

APA does not recommend replacing “he” with “he or she,” “she or he,” “he/she,” “(s)he,” “s/he,” or alternating between “he” and “she” because these substitutions are awkward and can distract the reader from the point you are trying to make. The pronouns “he” or “she” inevitably cause the reader to think of only that gender, which may not be what you intend.

Apparently, when using APA style, one’s target audience is an ambiguously gendered snail.

Apparently, when using APA style, one’s target audience is an ambiguously gendered snail.

They go on to recommend replacing the pronoun with a noun – person, individual, child, researcher, etc. – as if somehow that will be less annoying.  My husband, a veritable paragon of helpfulness, recommended I just replace all my pronouns with “yo’ mama”; however, I rained on his parade when I pointed out “mama” was gendered.  Instead, it would have to be something like “yo’ caretaker” or “yo’ guardian,” which I think we can all agree detracts from the overall intent.

2. Identify people, but in a way that no can recognize them.

Use adjectives to serve as descriptors rather than labels. When you use terms such as “the elderly” or “the amnesiacs,” the people lose their individuality.

No they don’t.

They’re the amnesiacs.

That is their individuality.  I’d venture to say amnesia is a relatively defining characteristic.

And the good news is that odds are against them remembering their offense long enough to get their disapproval published in any sort of academic journal anyone cares about.

Yay scholarly writing!

3. Don’t write in verse?  Just try and stop me.

Writing papers in APA style is unlike writing in more creative or literary styles that draw on poetic expressions and figurative language. Such linguistic devices can detract from conveying your information clearly…. Therefore, you should minimize the amount of figurative language…such as metaphors and analogies…; and avoid rhyming schemes, alliteration, or other poetic devices typically found in verse.

I think that I shall never see

A paper written coherently

That did not when eyes read it first

Wish was writ in metered verse.

Alliteration-lacking phrase

Leaves the eyes in great malaise.

Why waste time on such fodder?

Why not chug wine instead of water?

The proud, albeit unwitting, sponsor of my graduate thesis.

The proud, albeit unwitting, sponsor of my graduate thesis.


The Three Laws (No, not those three.)

Are you reading this in your underwear at ten in the morning while convincing no one but yourself that those two pieces of cold pizza you’re eating contain as much fiber as the Wheaties you’ve been studiously ignoring for the past week?

If so, please don’t write in to tell me.

Instead, I would like you to go and get a job.  Because, seriously man, that’s just pathetic.  But with compassionate understanding that jobs are sort of hard to come by these days, I’d like to do my part to help out.  And since writing is darn near all I know, I’d like to offer you Aaron’s Three Rules of Resumes, which should not be confused with Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, lest your Roomba maul you prior to engaging in a bit of creative writing.  So, without further ado:

Aaron’s first rule of resumes: Use the thesaurus, Luke.

Is your previous job title “Neurosurgeon,” “President of the United States,” or “Chairman of the Orphaned Kitten Defense Fund?”  If not, it sucks and no one will hire you.  Ever.  Your friends will desert you, and your life will be subjected to a Saturday Night Live skit involving a van down by the river.  Don’t blame me for this.  Blame Subway sandwiches and their decision to re-title their sandwich makers as sandwich “artists,” thereby putting them in the same occupational pool as Donatello (the artist, not the turtle), Da Vinci, and the Bee Gees.  Needless to say, immediate action is needed, and I don’t mean the swift acquisition of a $5 foot long.  Come to think of it, maybe it does mean that.  But after the foot long, locate your thesaurus and apply it vigorously to your resume.  It isn’t hard.  Data Entry becomes Statistical Recorder. Stock Boy becomes Inventory Control Specialist. Burger Cooker becomes Cardiovascular Researcher, and so on down the line.  Once you’ve come up with a series of spiffy job titles, it seems only logical that the duties one ostensibly performed aspire to do those monikers justice, which brings us to our second rule.

Aaron’s second rule of resumes: Choose the verb that is right for you.

You are not living unless you are facilitating something.  For example, if you worked in data entry and did nothing but, get this, enter data, it isn’t quite a fabrication to list your daily duties as “facilitated numerical movement.” Likewise, if one is a burger cooker and busy cooking burgers, it sounds so much better to say “facilitated the thermal treatment of raw animal matter for human consumption.” Admittedly, there are times when facilitating something just won’t seem to be quite enough, but never fear. The English language is blessed with an arsenal of action words that will spice up the most mundane resume. Spent the last seven years mowing lawns? If you did, you aren’t thinking hard enough. You spent the last seven years “spearheading a long-term, privately-funded environmental control effort to increase the livability of specific residential areas.” Of course, there are also some verbs one should stay away from, including but not limited to stole, looted, plundered, etc.  I’m sure you all get the idea.

Aaron’s third rule of resumes: Strive to be the Patron Saint of Office Work.

Sometimes it isn’t enough to just show up and be made of awesome.  No, sometimes it’s necessary to convince a potential employer that your life’s ambition extends no further than being a cog in their particular corporate machine.  To that end, I give you the “Objective Statement.”  Objective statements are these odd little things where one tells an employer, in a single sentence, why he or she would like to work for them. They also create a paradox because, were one honest, one would almost assuredly not get hired. The following is an honest objective statement: “I want this position in data entry so I can afford brand-name ramen, hit on your receptionist, and buy enough beer on the weekends to forget that I work in data entry.”  And this, to the best of my understanding, is a proper objective statement for the same position: “Through the data entry position at your company, I hope to record truthful and accurate information on the current status of humanity and use this information to take the first tentative steps towards world harmony and ensure my eventual canonization.”

With the above instructions, one ought to be able to fabricate a resume that will put positions one is grossly unqualified for within grasp. True, one will probably feel the pangs of conscience every time they go to print a page, but what are a few years of purgatory in order to facilitate the acquisition of that dream job as an Administrative Assistant…er, I mean Office Sub-Coordinator.