Thursday, November 10, 2011

Word of the day: raillery

The word of the day is raillery:

Etymology:  < French raillerie (a1495 in Middle French) < railler (see rail v.5) + -erie -ery suffix. 
1.a. Good-humoured ridicule or banter, often disguising a serious purpose; teasing, mockery. 
b. An instance of this; a satirical, teasing, or mocking remark. 
2. Abuse, invective; unpleasant or unkind criticism; taunting. (OED)

"In the years following Kael’s rise to influence, her career swiftly acquired the social rhythms of a fall term in the seventh grade: best friends announced themselves; enemies followed; friends soured into enemies; enemies warmed into friends; and several people, friends and enemies alike, tired of the raillery and went off to play on their own. The underside of Kael’s contrarianism was a constant hunger for material to rage against, and many conflicts were (as seventh graders say) her own fault."

 - Nathan Heller, "What she said: The doings and undoings of Pauline Kael", 24 October 2011 The New Yorker

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Word of the day: girandole

The word of the day is girandole:

Etymology:  < French girandole , < Italian girandola : see girandola n.
1. A species of firework; = girandola n. 1. 
2. A revolving fountain-jet; = girandola n. 2. 
3. A branched support for candles or other lights, either in the form of a candlestick for placing on a table, etc., or more commonly as a bracket projecting from a wall.
4. An ear-ring or pendant, esp. one which has a large central stone surrounded by smaller ones. (OED)

"The era also turned out its fair share of counterculture-colored girandoles—“Jesus Christ Superstar” (1973), “A Star Is Born” (1976), and “Hair” (1979)—as if to keep the sixties flames burning."

 - Nathan Heller, "What she said: The doings and undoings of Pauline Kael", 24 October 2011 The New Yorker

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

word of the day: lodestar

The word of the day is lodestar:

Etymology:  < load , lode n. + star n.1 Compare Old Norse leiðarstjarna .
1. A star that shows the way; esp. the pole star.
2. fig. A ‘guiding star’; that on which one's attention or hopes are fixed.

"As a writer, Kael had such lodestars as Partisan Review, which she read avidly, and Dwight Macdonald, then its editor, with whom she tried to correspond. (In 1943, when she learned of his plans to launch Politics, she wrote to him, 'I am looking forward to a magazine which will stand for the principles and position you represented on Partisan Review.')"

 - Nathan Heller, "What she said: the doings and undoings of Pauline Kael", 24 October 2011 The New Yorker

Monday, November 07, 2011

word of the day: jocose

The word of the day is jocose:

Etymology:  < Latin jocōs-us full of jesting or joking, < jocus : see joco n. and -ose suffix1.
1. Of persons, or their dispositions, etc.: Full of jokes: given to joking; playful, sportive, waggish.
2. Of speech, writing, or action: Of the nature of a joke, or characterized by jokes; spoken, written, or done in joke; playful in style or character.  (OED)

"George Roy Hill is a “sincere” director, but [William] Goldman’s script is jocose; though it reads as if it might play, it doesn’t, and probably this isn’t just Hill’s fault. What can one do with dialogue like Paul Newman’s Butch saying, “Boy, I got vision. The rest of the world wears bifocals”? It must be meant to be sportive, because it isn’t witty and it isn’t dramatic. The dialogue is all banter, all throwaways, and that’s how it’s delivered; each line comes out of nowhere, coyly, in a murmur, in the dead sound of the studio."

 - Pauline Kael, "The Bottom of the Pit", 27 September 1969 The New Yorker, as quoted by Nathan Heller, "What she said: the doings and undoings of Pauline Kael", 24 October 2011 The New Yorker

Sunday, November 06, 2011

letter to the Baltimore Sun: human trafficking in Maryland

Here's the text of a letter I sent to the Baltimore Sun, and here's a link to the article I refer to.  (Warning: the Baltimore Sun now has a New York Times-style paywall, so you only get a certain number of free page views per month.)


Dear Baltimore Sun,

I was very pleased to see your front page story today (Nov.6, "On the streets of Baltimore, a new hustle") on human trafficking in the United States. When most people think of human trafficking, they imagine third-world countries, not Baltimore Street. Thank you for doing your part to raise awareness about this very important, very relevant, and very local issue. I hope that you will continue your coverage on this important topic: for example, what is the status of the Phylicia Barnes murder case, and is anyone investigating whether she was a victim of human trafficking?