Emdashes—Modern Times Between the Lines

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In which some or all of the staff of Emdashes (me, the masterly Martin Schneider, and cherished intern John Bucher), put the blue ribbons on last week’s Wilburs.

I’ve got to give it to Larry Doyle’s Shouts, “Share Our Joy,” for signaling the magazine’s elegant long jump into true interactivity with a) a story that has ersatz links in it, 2) the actual links in the story online, and 3) additional web content now featured, subtly and tastefully, under selected print stories (the more the better, in my opinion). For instance, Peter Schjeldahl’s Edward Hopper review has an accompanying slide show, noted right after the print story, just where it’s needed. Jill Lepore’s “The Meaning of Life” was an intense pleasure to read: informative, bold, and dreamy, all at once. Anthony Gottlieb’s review of books about atheism was a highlight, too, and prompted a pleasant memory of Paul Bloom’s terrific Atlantic story “Is God an Accident?” I loved these Barsotti, Crawford, and BEK cartoons. In general, I thought the issue had a fresh, vigorous spirit. I particularly liked the seeming allusion, in Louis Menand’s Talk, to a deathless libretto from my own educational era: You know the one: “The macaroni’s soggy,/The peas are mushed,/And the chicken tastes like wood.” —EG

Best somewhat creepy lactic metaphor: no, not the milk of human kindness, but this one, by Anthony Lane in his Talk about the French elections. “Awaiting your hero for more than two hours is no hardship to the faithful; standing for two hours without earplugs, however, while the cream of soft Euro-rock is hosed into your consciousness, is another matter.” —JB


You’re right, that metaphor is kind of yucky. And sticky. With an aftertaste.

The more I read it, the more I’m frightened by its Freudian subtleties.

Menand’s Talk was one of recent favorites, and I liked the links throughout too …

one of MY recent favorites.

Yes, Lane’s lactic metaphor is interesting, and so is Schjeldahl’s fascination with the dancing pull cord of the shade in Hopper’s “Office at Night.” However, the best image in the issue is Peter Hessler’s “He looked like a scarecrow of specialty gear - some limbs equipped for hard labor, others for intense recreation.” Hessler’s piece on his Great Wall walks is a beauty!

driedcharMay 28, 2007


I’m working to translate into French the article from the New Yorker you are talking about. Could you explain to me what the expression “the cream of soft Euro-rock is hosed into your consciousness” really means and why this metaphor makes such effect to English readers, so that I can find the best equivalent in my language ?

Thank you very much for helping me.

This is definitely a challenge for Carolita. C, please post your reply here so we can learn something!

And hello there, ZP! So nice to have you back in the Rossosphere.

You’re right about that scarecrow metaphor, driedchar; it’s elegant. It reminds me of the Shaggy Man from The Road to Oz. As a friend of mine once said, “I think my ideal man is a cross between Cary Grant and The Shaggy Man.”

Okay, well, I suppose this will reveal more about me than about the writer, and maybe even more than Emily…. But the way I read it, this is how I would literally translate it into non-idiomatic English. There are no equivalent French idioms that I know of, but that could be because my French is rather “bien élevé.” Ahem.

“The cream (which kind of resembles ejaculate) of (the masturbatory activities of) soft Euro-rock is hosed (or ejaculated) into your consciousness (sort of like a mind rape).”

Am I right, everyone else who agreed that it was a yucky metaphor?

If not, then I have just revealed what I think of Euro-rock and its dissemination. No pun intended.

I have been told my mind is in the gutter, so I apologize in advance if I have offended without intending to. (I do so love to offend intentionally).

BTW, was it me who said that about Cary Grant and the Shaggy Man? It sure sounds like me!

It was you! From an early email exchange. And I concur.

I see what you mean with the sex metaphor, but I thought it was more like our consciousness is a cream-puff pastry shell, awaiting cheap, sugary filling. I have direct experience in this realm, having once filled cream puffs at the county fair with the Christian youth group. I was raised as an atheist and rebelled through a brief and briefly exhilarating romance with Campus Life (not to be confused with pro-life, though I’m sure there was some overlap). Ask my family—they’ll be happy to tell you how I scared the, ah, be-Learned Hand out of them!

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