Elsa: I’m about to learn a new word!
The Fella: What is it?
Elsa: It’s from this review I’m reading: imbricate.
The Fella: Embercate?
Elsa: Im-bric-ate. It means… to arrange scales, sepals — ooop, I’m about to learn two new words!
The Fella: I love you.
Elsa: To arrange in an overlapping fashion, like petals, scales, or roof tiles. I love you too!

Pontypool: a movie review

From indie director Bruce McDonald (The Tracey Fragments, Hard Core Logo) comes Pontypool, a deliciously taut, intelligently told thriller that breaks all the rules of zombie outbreak films, starting with the most important one: there are no zombies.

What do I mean? If a zombie film has no zombies, what the heck does the word even mean? Well, exactly.

Grizzled veteran actor Stephen McHattie exercises his gruff charm and silky-rough voice as washed-up radio host Grant Mazzy, who starts the morning with announcements of missing cats and snow day rosters, and ends it as the lone broadcaster detailing a mysterious outbreak of violence and illness. The tale is a masterpiece of mediated storytelling: Mazzy and his crew are glued to their helm in the radio station, receiving updates from reporters and civilians in the field, which means that the tension is built by voices and words, not gruesome action scenes.

And it works. Not only does it work; the tension becomes a self-feeding cycle as it gradually dawns on the radio troopers that their reports may be compounding the disaster. This is a lean, elegantly economical piece of storytelling that builds to a horrific crest by allowing us to invest in the players, to piece together their relationships and characters and to imagine for ourselves the horrors offstage… and then the action starts to spill over.

[This review is cross-posted to The VideoReport.]

gray area

Courtesy of friends JE & AC, who moved out of town over the weekend, we now have a new-to-us ginormous TV in our place. The two best things about this TV, other than the mammoth screen:

1. The Fella will no longer need to complain about “the blacks,” i.e., the fuzzy, indistinct gray-to-black range that hampered dark scenes showing on our previous flatscreen TV;

2. I will stop cringing for a split second every so often because my partner has muttered the unexpected phrase “Wow, the blacks are terrible.”

and yes I said yes I will yes

It’s unanimous!

You’re Ulysses!
by James Joyce
Most people are convinced that you don’t make any sense, but compared
to what else you could say, what you’re saying now makes tons of sense. What people do
understand about you is your vulgarity, which has convinced people that you are at once
brilliant and repugnant. Meanwhile you are content to wander around aimlessly, taking in
the sights and sounds of the city. What you see is vast, almost limitless, and brings you
additional fame. When no one is looking, you dream of being a Greek folk hero.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

… and…

I write like
James Joyce

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!


updated to add: Even better than the Ode to Joy clip (at the end of this entry) is Beaker’s Habanera with The Swedish Chef and Animal. Enjoy!

Students at Danvers High School in Massachusetts are forbidden to utter the nonsense word meep.


Evidently, the students have appropriated Beaker’s all-purpose word for their own constant use, to the annoyance of the faculty and administrators. The principal’s balanced, sensible response, which was not at all silly, misguided, or destined for spectacular failure: he prohibited students from uttering the sound meep. Well, that oughta do it.

Two aspects of this story puzzle me, to startlingly different degrees.

First, the minor puzzle: since when has “meep” been an expression belonging only to younguns? I’m old enough to have watched the original broadcasts of The Muppet Show, and whenever I’ve had occasion to utter a tiny meep! of dismay or alarm, no one has seemed too terribly perplexed by it.

Second, the major puzzle: has this principal or any member of his administration ever, I dunno, met any high school students? Barring that, have they ever interacted with any group of humans? Have they any basic understanding of human psychology?

A quote from the second link:

“It has nothing to do with the word,” [Danvers H.S. principal Thomas] Murray said. “It has to do with the conduct of the students. We wouldn’t just ban a word just to ban a word.”

No, because banning a word will not work, and in fact will be counter-productive. The administration has now identified the word as a guaranteed provocation and enshrined it in legend.

In solidarity with the Danvers High students and for the sheer delight of it, I offer you: Ode to Joy, performed by Beaker.