Happy ninth anniversary to Emdashes! I could go on, but there’s so much to attend to in these waning hours of the year that I’ll just refer you to this five-year-anniversary hurrah, which pretty much says it all. Plus, may I recommend this punctuation-themed post with a headline dear to our hearts? Yes, it’s “The Singular Beauty of the Em-Dash,” with a plum quote from our scholarly pal Ben Yagoda.
Thank you, dear people, for being here—especially since other projects have kept the Emdashers from posting often. We’re also working behind the scenes to freshen things up, so if you see a bug or two, our trusty back-end compatriot is on it. (Block that metaphor!)
A very happy new year to you all, and we have lots of new plans for the big ten. Not the football Big Ten. Our very own. (continued)
There are smart cookies and dumb bunnies. (The latter term can apply to men and women alike, as far as I’m concerned.) There are smart moves and dumbfounding decisions. And, as every discerning typophile, copy cat, and design devotee knows, there are smart quotes and dumb quotes. The image to the right is a succinct visual summary. The Society of Publication Designers feels so (justly) strongly about it that they made smart versus dumb quotes lesson number one in their essential-vocabulary series.
On Mother’s Day, friend of Emdashes Caledonia Kearns writes:
For years I thought my father was the story, though I knew nothing of his day to day. I just knew that his life was more cinematic than mine and my mother’s—for one thing, he was dealing his way through the grit and graffiti of 1970s and ’80s Manhattan. A surviving beatnik, he went from burning his draft card and feeding the poor on the Bowery at the Catholic Worker, to selling marijuana in a loft with special built-in bins for the various varieties he sold. (continued)
“I get recognized here and there as the voice of Pocahontas. It happened a lot more at the time when it had come out. I couldn’t go grocery shopping without some little kid in the front of the cart going, ‘Mommy—Pocahontas!’”
“[Children] don’t know that I’ve done those other things. They know me by my voice because children hear me in a supermarket; sometimes I’ll be chatting with a friend about lettuce, and suddenly a child will say, ‘Mrs. Potts!’ It’s enchanting.”
This site turned eight at the new year, which is almost a million in internet years. What have we been doing with ourselves? After a couple of years in Chicago writing theater reviews and Groupons, I’m back in New York, getting to work with longtime hero Jen Bekman at 20×200 and living in hilly and historic Peekskill with wonder duo Todd Londagin and Merideth Harte. Co-Emdasher Martin Schneider is writing Box Office Boffo, Paul Morris (a.k.a. Pollux) is doing a tremendous amount of fun and productive things—take a look at his Pinterest, for one—and the erudite Jonathan Taylor is grad-schooling and writing. (continued)
Once upon a time, from 2004 to about 2010, Emdashes was a New Yorker fan blog. But now that The New Yorker has so many blogs of its own for people to follow and be-fan, we’ve slowly started morphing back into what we intended to be in the first place: a punctuation blog.
Fortunately, sometimes our first love, The New Yorker, venntersects with our second love, punctuation. Today marks one such occasion. You probably already know that the magazine sponsors a weekly Twitter contest, Questioningly, in which people tweet entries (along with the hashtag #tnyquestion) in response to editor Ben Greenman’s inspired and loopy challenges. Greenman just posted the results of the most recent contest: Invent a new punctuation mark. Some of the winners: (continued)
Emily Gordon writes:
Lately, when I’m not at work, cooking up a blog redesign, or buffaloing cartoonist and critic Pollux into coming up with a comic (drawn and debuting soon!) to herald the site’s new focus on images and symbols, I’ve been noting sentences that strike me in this Tumblr, The Beautiful Sentence. If you submit a sentence you like (from anywhere you like—a novel, a blog, an article, a cereal box) and I like it too, I’ll post it. A beautiful sentence can be funny, wise, intricately constructed, or just cool. (continued)
Bill Haast, 100, Florida Snake Handler, Is Dead
Snake Handler Bitten by One of World’s Most Poisonous Vipers
Snake Handler Hospitalized After Suffering 102d Bite
Snake Handler Dies of Bite, As His Father-in-Law Did
Snake Handler Recuperating
Jolo Journal; When the Faithful Tempt the Serpent
Kentucky Man Killed by Rattler In Rite of Snake-Handling Cult
Defiant Snake Handler Dies
SQUEEZED BY AN ANACONDA; A TRYING MOMENT FOR AN EXPERT SNAKE HANDLER
Drought means booming business for Southern California snake handlers
SNAKE BITES A SHOWMAN; “Rattlesnake Pete” Gruber Thought to be Dying at Rochester
Zoo Burglar Tries to Steal Deadly Cobras; Mystery in Raid on the Bronx Reptile House
CHURCHES CHIDED ON MATERIAL AIMS
One African Takes Fangs Over Fido As a Sentry (continued)
BNR: …Apart from all your second-guessing of your writing itself, I’ve noticed that you’re really hard on yourself for using a font based on your handwriting to letter your frames.(continued)
AB: I do feel guilty about it, like it’s somehow cheating to use a digital font, and to not actually hand-letter my work. But at the same time, I have these lengthy passages of quotations from [Donald] Winnicott or from Virginia Woolf that I have obsessively hand-lettered.
Print is dead? I was watching Ghostbusters (1984) this weekend, and at one point the character Egon Spengler is asked a question, to which he responds: ‘Print is dead.” What is the earliest recorded use of this phrase?Among the satisfying replies:
I found a reference in the Antioch Review (1967) that uses “print is dead” as the characterization for Marshall McLuhan’s scholarship, which make a lot of sense to me in this context. This previously is also pertinent.And:
Someone else in that group also mentions that the “print is dead” line actually gained some popularity in the early 80s in tech circles as the personal computer gained prominence. It likely wasn’t the earliest recorded use, but Egon’s quote may have just been a result of the growing sentiment of the time.Meanwhile, a recent post on Movies.com answers the question I somehow didn’t think to ask, which is what the various Ghostbusters would look like if they were cartoon ghosts. Now you know. (continued)
Hello! I’m Emily Gordon, a content strategist, critic, and copywriter. Emdashes, born in 2004, spent its formative years as a New Yorker fan blog. (The project garnered some nice compliments and press.) It’s now a collection of conversations—generally civilized—about punctuation, magazines, movies, design, and other things that stir me.
Over the years, I’ve worked with a small army of culture writers, editors, and artists. You can read all about the people who've helped build Emdashes here at “Who We?” (That’s a New Yorker joke. Old habits die hard.)
I welcome submissions, questions, corrections, and ardent, obsessive contributors. I also host occasional book-related contests and giveaways. Questioners and publishers, just email me.
Looking for The New Yorker magazine? Kudos on your classy taste. Here’s how to contact The New Yorker.
The original Emdashes pencil logo was designed by Jennifer Hadley, based on a 1943 Dorothy Gray ad.