Good reading fun

I had a work-filled weekend (except for the ROJAK interlude), so it's only today that I can get around to posting some neat reading-related links:
  • Since so many people got a tickle out of "The challenge of problem with office-speak", here's Slate's "Notes on Catch: Which catchphrases should be 'thrown under the bus'?" (via kitschy potemkin). Excerpt:
    It is possible to think of catchphrase use in stages. There's Stage 1, when you first hear a phrase and take pleasure in its imaginative use of language on the literal and metaphorical level. ...

    Then there's Stage 2, when you use it to establish "street cred" (time to throw "street cred" under the catchphrase bus?) or convey a sense of being au courant.

    Then there's Stage 3, when the user acknowledges a phrase's over-ness and tries to extract some final mileage out of it by gently mocking it, usually by using ironic quotes, or adding "as they say" to the end.

    Finally, there's Stage 4: terminal obsolence, dead phrase walking. Take "at the end of the day." It kind of stuns me whenever I find someone still saying "at the end of the day" with a straight face. What are they, stuck on stupid, as they say?
  • Also from Slate (also via kitschy potemkin), ";( Has modern life killed the semicolon?", wonders Portland State University faculty Paul Collins. I have a soft spot for the semicolon, and an even softer one (as I'm sure you can tell from reading my blog) for the dash.

    I also really like the penultimate sentence of this essay:
    When grading undergrad final papers recently, I found a near-absence of semicolons, save for one paper with cadenced pauses and carefully cantilevered clauses that gracefully stacked upon one another, Jenga-like, without ever quite toppling.
  • Alison Bechdel, one of my favourite authors, gives her take on "Compulsory Reading" (via Bitch Ph.D.), about all the guilt we bibliophiles feel about the books we oughta read that we haven't read yet. This one's a comic-strip essay, for those of you that don't feel like dealing with any more prose right now. (If you like it, borrow her graphic-novel autobiography Fun Home from me.)

    My personal list of I-really-oughta-reads includes: War and Peace, London: A Biography, any novels by James Joyce and anything at all by Charles Dickens (I don't think the opening two pages of Hard Times or the adapted-and-illustrated-for-children version of A Tale of Two Cities counts).
After proofreading for an entire week, I'll be glad to get back to a little old-fashioned reading for a change.

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At 6/30/2008 6:15 am , Blogger Little Miss Drinkalot said...

Turth be told, I don't use the semi-colon because I don't know HOW to use it.

At 7/02/2008 7:50 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was a piece in the NYT not so long ago that mentioned how the correct usage of a semi-colon in a subway ad had generated tons of positive feedback. It's amazing how that little piece of punctuation can stir up so much emotion.

In other news, my guilty must reads include Plato's Republic, which I keep cracking and then cracking, Crime and Punishment, and anything by Samuel Beckett (which I am so ashamed to say I have NEVER read)!


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