The Lumber Room

"Consign them to dust and damp by way of preserving them"

Posts Tagged ‘parody

Timespeak: Backward ran sentences until reeled the mind

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TIME magazine used to have a famously distinct style, a precursor of some of today’s awkward journalese (which Dan Brown foisted upon the world at large). Dubbed “Timespeak”, it consisted of some favourite adjectives, a disdain for articles, coined nouns of a type of which “Timespeak” is itself an example, and a sentence order famously parodied by Wolcott Gibbs as “Backward ran sentences until reeled the mind”.
(Those days are finally over: in 2007, the New York Times had an article titled With Redesign of Time, Sentences Run Forward.)

I just found the complete text of Wolcott Gibbs’s article, which is an unflattering, biting, full-length profile of Henry Luce, Time’s co-founder, written entirely in “Timese” and published in The New Yorker, 1936. The section where he describes the language:

Puny in spite of these preparations, prosy in spite of the contributions of Yale poets Archibald McLeish & John Farrar, was the first issue of Time on March 3, 1923. Magazine went to 9,000 subscribers; readers learned that Uncle Joe Cannon had retired at 86, that there was famine in Russia, that Thornton Wilder friend Gene Tunney had defeated Greb.

Yet to suggest itself as a rational method of communication, of infuriating readers into buying the magazine, was strange inverted Timestyle. It was months before Hadden’s impish contempt for his readers, his impatience with the English language, crystallized into gibberish. By the end of the first year, however, Timeditors were calling people able, potent, nimble;  “Tycoon”, most successful Timepithet, had been coined by Editor Laird Shields Goldsborough; so fascinated Hadden with “beady-eyed” that for months nobody was anything else. Timeworthy were deemed such designations as “Tom-tom” Heflin, “Body-lover” Macfadden.

“Great word! Great word!” would crow Hadden, coming upon “snaggle-toothed,” “pig-faced.” Appearing already were such maddening coagulations as “cinemaddict,” “radiorator.” Appearing also were first gratuitous invasions of privacy. Always mentioned as William Randolph Hearst’s “great & good friend” was Cinemactress Marion Davies, stressed was the bastardy of Ramsay MacDonald, the “cozy hospitality” of Mae West. Backward ran sentences until reeled the mind.

It ends with a flourish:

Certainly to be taken with seriousness is Luce at thirty-eight, his fellowman already informed up to his ears, the shadow of his enterprises long across the land, his future plans impossible to imagine, staggering to contemplate. Where it all will end, knows God!

Preparation is all this for this post on the A Roguish Chrestomathy blog (On the lucidity of Yoda), where followed up are various prior analyses of Yoda’s syntax, including relations to Irish and whether use the past tense Yoda does.

Written by S

Mon, 2010-05-24 at 21:50:42 +05:30

Posted in language

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Dan Brown parody

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Dan Brown is a hilariously bad writer. The Da Vinci Code was an outrageously successful book.
So it was only inevitable that in addition to all the delicious criticism of Dan Brown’s writing,1 there would also be a number of parodies of his books published, and indeed there have been several.2 While looking for something in the library, I found The Da Vinci Cod: A Fishy Parody by “Don Brine” (real name Adam Roberts) and quickly proceeded to borrow it and read it. It was a good two hours spent, which is more than can be said for Dan Brown’s books themselves. Although the author is a professor of literature at London University, the book manages to remain true to the awful writing and plot of the original. I heartily recommend reading the book if you come across it; for a taste of what it’s like, some excerpts follow. You can also see parts of the book at Google Books.
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Written by S

Sun, 2008-12-28 at 23:45:27 +05:30

Form > content

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David Mccandless (?) has an excellent set of parodies of websites, from Porn for Girls by Girls (awesome!), Crackbook (click), Amasszone, Schmapple, Good News, and all the rest.

We do not realise the extent of our association of the content with its “form”, I think. The Porn… site, for example, is distinctly a porn site. It is helped by the words of course, but take the words away, and still something remains… is it simply a matter of image sizes and colours?

Written by S

Thu, 2007-12-13 at 20:06:28 +05:30

Posted in Uncategorized

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Pop culture potpourri

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More procrastination material.

Snape’s on a plane!

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Written by S

Mon, 2007-12-03 at 18:01:54 +05:30

Posted in entertainment

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Film I saw

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The LSC plays movies every weekend, to which I get free admission, and I usually watch all the films, no matter how bad I expect them to be :-)

Yesterday I saw 1408. It is a horror film based on a Stephen King short story. (It is about room 1408 of the Dolphin Hotel, where…)

The movie isn’t bad at all. It even has a happy ending. (The director’s cut apparently doesn’t.)

I saw a poster that said it

ranks with The Shining as one of the best Stephen King adaptations ever.

Obviously, the guy forgot about The Shawshank Redemption.

One might argue that Shawshank wasn’t a horror movie, but then again, neither was The Shining.
Really: Watch the trailer, it’s hilarious:
[Created by Robert Ryang. A contest-winning entry.]
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Written by S

Mon, 2007-10-22 at 04:30:59 +05:30

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