Emdashes. Modern Times Between the Lines.

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Not in the literal sense. But certainly in a spiritual sense. I’m happy to say I began work this week at Oglivy & Mather as its Newsroom Editor. As for here, I don’t know how Emdashes will evolve in the future, in this, its tenth year. To judge from my radio silence, I’ve been drawn to other magnetic things, among them beautifulsentence.com and peekskill.rocks, a new site I’m working on with the rocking developer Joe Sepi. But I would never, ever let go of my dearest place online.

So, I’ll return, tweed-clad and pipe in hand, and tend to this overgrown plot when I can. If you’re reading this, hi! Thanks for reading. Thanks for everything. This blog has opened so many incredible doors and continues to do so. The explanation “It started as a meta-superfan blog about The New Yorker” makes sprockets spring out of many people’s ears. But luckily, enough people have shared my obsessions that it made obsessing all the more delightful. (continued)

It’s spring in Emdashes’ tenth (!) year. These days, I’m working on grants and web content at The Center for Jewish History, right next door to the Margaret Sanger Clinic House. Sanger was a friend of my great-grandmother Dorothy Gordon, and I wish I’d known both of them and could have joined even one of their conversations. Here’s Dorothy (known as Ooma) on her ’50s and ’60s TV show, The New York Times Youth Forums, where a multicultural panel of brainy youth debated serious subjects of the day along with a distinguished guest.




Dorothy herself had a great sense of humor, I’m told, and had been a singer of folk songs on the radio and an opera singer before that. She put herself forward when host positions were scarce for women, to say the least, and refused to weave those cheesy ads into her shows (“Friends, do you have tired blood?”) because, she said, children can’t distinguish between the show and the advertising.

I don’t normally write about myself, and I don’t think I’ve ever written about any member of my family. But I have chutzpah and bravery on the brain as I work on grants with meaningful purpose; finish a book proposal; think about the new documentary about Vivian Maier, who never showed her city-capturing photographs; rewatch the classic (as far as I’m concerned) 1985 movie Desperately Seeking Susan.

No one can be Madonna except Madonna. Nobody can be Aidan Quinn except Aidan Quinn, either. (Those searching, uncertain blue eyes.) And most of all, no one can be Susan Seidelman, who directed a movie so celebratory, suspenseful, subtly feminist, and generally badass that it instantly, completely, dare I say desperately, made me decide to move to New York as soon as possible. And I did. And the movie is still wonderful. And Rosanna Arquette’s character has the courage not to be Madonna/Susan, but to make her own goofy way that’s just as cool. If not cooler. I’m certain Ooma would’ve liked her. (continued)

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)

dumbquotes_radarcollectiveconsulting.jpgThere 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.

Most recently, John Brownlee at Fast Company’s Co.Design defines the problem and provides the solution: (continued)

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)

mrs-potts-angela-lansbury.jpg“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!’”
Irene Bedard

“[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.”
Angela Lansbury

Image from Voice Actors Who Look Like Their Characters (continued)

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, 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, on the trombone, and Merideth Harte, on the Wacom tablet. (Todd has a new album out, by the way, and you gotta hear it. Look Out for Love!)

How about my friends and co-conspirators? Emdasher Martin Schneider is writing Box Office Boffo. Paul Morris (a.k.a. Pollux) is, as usual, a whirlwind of visual productivity, from Art-o-Mat to, well, everything. And the erudite Jonathan Taylor is grad-schooling and writing. (continued)

Emily Gordon writes:


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)

saint-exupery-snake.jpegBill 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
Handling Hogs
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)

2008 Webby Awards Official Honoree
Pretty!