Sunday, March 29, 2015

Minority report: Mr. Turner

Wikipedia: “Mr. Turner has received universal praise from critics.” Well, okay. Mr. Turner (dir. Mike Leigh, 2014), is a beautiful-looking film, extraordinarily so. Dick Pope’s cinematography makes every landscape, every seascape, every interior a painterly composition. But in this portrait of the artist as a gruff man, it’s difficult, at times impossible, to understand what he’s saying: Timothy Spall’s J. M. W. Turner is all croaks and growls and hoarse mutterings. I don’t think it’s meant to be funny, but many in last night’s audience seemed to find it hilarious, as if the film were a John Belushi samurai skit. Meant to be funny but not so: the film’s depiction of John Ruskin as a lisping mega-twit. To me that seemed the easiest, cheapest of shots. But at least I could understand Ruskin’s words, lisp and all.

Elaine and I both did a little reading about Turner last night and were surprised to learn that his last words were “The sun is God.” In the theater, we had both heard, with no second-guessing, “The sun is gone.” Diction, diction, diction.

My recommendation: wait for the DVD, and watch with subtitles.

Domestic comedy

[After deciding not to go to the fancy place for dinner.]

“I’ll leave my thesaurus at home then.”

Related reading
All OCA domestic comedy posts (Pinboard)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Gill Sans

[“Perils Of Julia And Gill Man — Movie Julia Adams.” Photograph by Edward Clark. Alterations by me. From the Life Photo Archive. Click for a larger, gillier view.]

Once upon a time, the Creature, or the Gill-Man, was one of the monster models made by Aurora Plastics, along with Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy, and the Wolfman. The makeup of that quintet bugged me. Four of them: classics. But the fifth? Now he’s a spokesgill-man for the sardine industry.

Scale models — cars, dinosaurs, monsters, planes — were once a fairly standard part of boyhood. Testors Glue, Testors Enamel Paints, decals: necessary stuff, like sardines.

Related reading
All OCA sardines posts (Pinboard)

[Gill Sans? Sans sardines. The font I’ve used for “got sardines?” is the free CGPhenixAmerican.]

Liberal-arts trashing

“Dismissing the liberal arts seems to have become a litmus test for conservative politicians”: Christopher Scalia, “Conservatives, Please Stop Trashing the Liberal Arts” (The Wall Street Journal ).

[The link goes to a Google search. A direct link works only for WSJ subscribers. Christopher Scalia is a professor of English and son of Antonin Scalia.]

Friday, March 27, 2015


“It’s a whacked-out, motherfuckin’ weekend, bro.”

And probably not for the first time.

Related reading
All OCA “overheard” posts (Pinboard)

[Three compound words there, but only one hyphen.]

A movie theater in the movies

[The Culver. From Tension (1949, dir. John Berry).]

[The Kirk Douglas Theatre. From Google Maps, 2015.Click either image for a larger view.]

Elaine and I gave a little leap when we watched Tension again last night. We know this theater. In 1949, it was the Culver. Today, it’s the Kirk Douglas Theatre. We heard the Culver City Symphony there in 2014. Hearing the Symphony is a Thing to Do in Los Angeles.

I still want to track down the location of the drugstore in Tension, which I think must be the best drugstore in the movies. A street sign, barely legible in one street scene, looks as if might read Something Alexandria Avenue . North? South? East? West? Must investigate further.


3:46 p.m.: Having traveled N. and S. Alexandria via Google Maps, I don’t think any trace remains of that drugstore.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

An adjunct instructor’s student becomes an adjunct instructor

Carmen Maria Machado writes about learning from an adjunct instructor and becoming an adjunct instructor:

The irony of this setup has not escaped me: the adjuncts who teach well despite the low pay and the lack of professional support may inspire in their students a similar passion — prompting them to be financially taken advantage of in turn.

“O Adjunct! My Adjunct!” (The New Yorker)
I’ll say it again: the exploitation of adjunct labor is the shame and scandal of American higher education.

A related post
The Adjunct Project

“[I]t’s readers”

[A sidebar to an article in today’s York Times.]

Here’s a post with Jessica Mitford’s tongue-in-cheek advice for choosing between its and it’s.

[Trying to create a post in Blogger’s iOS app is hell on wheels, with three flat tires.]

Another relic

Diane Schirf continues her “Relics” series by writing about the push reel lawn mower.

[To my surprise, lawn mower really is two words.]

Mr. Hyphen and Mr. Faulkner

From Edward N. Teall’s Meet Mr. Hyphen (And Put Him in His Place) (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1937):

In the downfunnelled light of a curbchannelled street in a neartropical metropolis, a tall, circuitriderlooking man stood amid the carnival confettisplatter overhead and confettidrift underfoot. His clothes were neartweed; his shoes flimsy, as though made of imitationleather. The package he carried contained a new hat of admirable machinesymmetry, purchased after much scribblescrawling of figures and a deal of coinfumbling, as a weddingpresent for —
All those crazycat compounds actually appear in “Pylon,” one of William Faulkner’s novels. Along with them go such others as cheeseclothlettered, mirageline, corpseglare, coffincubicles, bottomupwards, wirehum, canallock, umbrellarib.
“In the downfunnelled light”: that’s not Pylon (1935); it’s Teall’s assembling of compounds from the novel — Faulkner words, or better, Faulknerwords — in a handful of sentences. A sampling from Light in August (1932), which I’m now teaching: branchshadowed, cinderstrewnpacked, fecundmellow, hardfeeling, hardsmelling, moonblanched, pinkwomansmelling, sootbleakened. I love modernism.

Faulkner’s habit of compounding owes much to the example of Joyce’s Ulysses (1922): cabbageeared, dressinggown, hairynostrilled, scrotumtightening, snotgreen. These compound words make me think of Anglo-Saxon poetry and Homeric epithets. Κορυθαίολος Ἕκτωρ : Hector moving-the-helmet-quickly.

I wonder if Teall was aware of William Carlos Williams’s decouplings in “The Red Wheelbarrow”:
a red wheel

glazed with rain
I love modernism.

Also from Meet Mr. Hyphen
Funk & Wagnalls logo
Living on hyphens