Friday, April 18, 2008

Good word

"My measure of success is victory and success."

-- George W. Bush on the current unpleasantness
Good word

"In our time, Internet commenting has become its own special form of social idiocy."

-- Michael Agger

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Good word

"The features do not quite work together. In pictures, its most striking aspect is the ski-jump silhouette ('Bob Hope and I would make a great ad for Sun Valley'), but the aspect that awes one when he meets Nixon is its distressing width, accentuated by the depth of the ravine running down its center, and by its general fuzziness (Nixon's 'five-o'clock shadow' extends all the way up to his heavy eyebrows, though -- like many hairy men -- he is balding above the brows' 'timberline'). The nose swings far out; then, underneath, it does not rejoin his face in a straight line, but curves far up again, leaving a large but partially screened space between nose and lip. The whole face's lack of jointure is emphasized by the fact that he has no very defined upper lip (I mean the lip itself, the thing makeup men put lipstick on, not the moustache area). The mouth works down solely, like Charlie McCarthy's -- a rapid but restricted motion, not disturbing the heavy luggage of jowl on either side. When he smiles, the space under his nose rolls up (and in) like the old sunshades hung on front porches."

Garry Wills, Nixon Agonistes

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

What's that device
Fall Out Boy beats it. Or at least the one guy does

Time for another installment of What's That Device, the Back With Interest series that explores the use of rhetorical figures in the culture around us.

Today's example once again comes from the latest edition of Listen Up, the Sunday Wisconsin State Journal column for parents interested in their children's music, but not that interested. On the docket this week is a line from Fall Out Boy's really quite fab remake of Michael Jackson's "Beat It":
Showin' how funky strong is your fight
This is an example of anastrophe, which Richard Lanham's indispensable Handlist of Rhetorical Terms defines as "unusual arrangement of words or clauses within a sentence, often for metrical convenience or poetic effect." And the effect here indeed is poetic. "Showin' how funky strong your fight is" just doesn't have the same ring.

You could call anastrophe the Yoda device. Who can forget those classic Yoda inversions?! "
Told you I did. Reckless is he." I like to imagine Yoda, Michael Jackson, and Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz sitting around and swapping some anastrophes. And taking pictures.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Good word

"White people will often say they are 'spiritual' but not religious. Which usually means that they will believe any religion that doesn’t involve Jesus."

-- Stuff White People Like

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Golden oldies

What was the #1 song the day I was born? George Harrison, "My Sweet Lord" / "Isn't It a Pity." Says this. My #1 song is actually two songs, and they're by a Beatle, and they're both pretty wonderful. Yeah!