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Still waters run deep…

…but a babbling brook is shallow.

As a card-carrying introvert, I applaud Jonathan Rauch’s article on our proper care and feeding. I’m not so sure, however, that you extroverts will sit still long enough to read it, so let me summarize it for you: stop talking to us.

And the Winner Is…

Sue Fondrie, associate professor of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, is the winner of the 2011 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. The annual competition challenges entrants to compose bad opening sentences to imaginary novels.

Here’s Professor Fondrie’s winning entry:

Cheryl’s mind turned like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories.

Brilliant, for sure—though I’m partial to the runner-up in the “Purple Prose” category:

The Los Angeles morning was heavy with smog, the word being a portmanteau of smoke and fog, though in LA the pollutants are typically vehicular emissions as opposed to actual smoke and fog, unlike 19th-century London where the smoke from countless small coal fires often combined with fog off the Thames to produce true smog, though back then they were not clever enough to call it that.

Complete results can be found here.

David Puts the Smacketh Down

On a mission to create original designs for all 66 books of the Bible, Jim LePage has so far “summarized and designified” his way through 1 Thessalonians. Shown above is his take on 1 Samuel.


Because it’s Friday and I have far, far too much to do than post the usual brilliant and insightful commentary, here’s impressionist Jim Meskimen performing Clarence’s monologue from Richard III as 25 different celebrities:


Writing in BBC News Magazine, Matthew Engel worries that American idioms are ruining the Mother Tongue. He must’ve touched a nerve: thousands responded to the July 13 article, and a list of the 50 most irritating examples was published yesterday.

He’s partly right, I suppose. I mean, there are few things more vile than the phrase “it is what it is.” Unless, of course, it’s the use of “ask” as a noun. (Are you reading this, CK?)

Movie Review

This will likely be the lamest movie review anyone’s ever written—or read, for that matter. But I’m giving it a shot anyway.

Here it is: Go see The Tree of Life before it leaves Spokane theaters.

That’s it. Don’t ask me why I’m recommending it. (I’m not even sure I understand it.) Don’t ask me for an analysis of the plot, a critique of the acting, or a comment on director Terrence Malick’s script. Honestly, I wouldn’t know where to begin.

Just go see it.

Business Beat

This just in: Borders is on the verge of closing all 399 of its stores. From the short article: “In a statement, Borders President Mike Edwards said the changing book industry and the economy hastened the chain’s demise.”

Um, Mike? Do you think it might’ve been the $18 CDs and $40 DVDs that did you in? Just wondering.

It’s a bit sad, really. For a while there, Spokane actually had a store with a decent selection of jazz albums, not to mention some respectable classical choices. As for the books…meh. Around here, it’s tough to beat Auntie’s.

Brilliantly Creative or Gratuitously Offensive?

Depends on whether you have a Y chromosome, apparently. More here.

Happy Bastille Day!

We’re not exactly Francophiles here at the last word, preferring Philip Roth over Michel Houellebecq, Leszek Kolakowski over Jacques Derrida, and Dick’s fries over pommes frites. But hey, it’s a holiday.

So let’s celebrate! Here’s Poème Électronique by Edgard Varèse:

[audio:ème-Électronique.mp3|titles=06 Poème Électronique]

The Brits Surrender

If you’re not outraged, you haven’t seen this—in which we read that, in yet another step on the long march toward barbarism, the University of Oxford has forsworn its namesake comma in the school’s branding and communications materials.

Hey Oxford: Go soak your head. Servabo fidem!

Nixon Now!–Ids&

But wait—there’s more

Fluid Dynamics, Fractal Geometry, and the Art of Jackson Pollock

If you thought Jackson Pollock’s painting technique was simply a matter of him “wiggling his hand in a sinusoidal way,” well…you’re wrong.

Fun with Sterotypes