Emdashes—Modern Times Between the Lines

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Before it moved to The New Yorker:
Ask the Librarians

Best of Emdashes: Hit Parade
A Web Comic: The Wavy Rule


For much of the summer, Emdashes’ summer interns—Sarah Arkebauer, Taylor House, and Adam Shoemaker—have explored the multifarious, multimedia, and at times mellifluous blogs and podcasts at newyorker.com.

While this (combined, two-week) report from Adam and Sarah is the last from their internship, it’s certainly not the last you’ll hear from these talented people. Readers, look forward to more analysis from and news of them in months to come. Sarah, Taylor, and Adam, it’s been a true pleasure working with you, and I’m looking forward to more of your words and your thoughts.

Adam Shoemaker:

Last week in Interesting Times, George Packer analyzed John McCain and proposed that the Arizona senator lives an existence of constant tension between ambition and principle. When the tension relaxes, so does the principle, until the politician recovers his grasp of a moral center through “a searing period of repentance that ends in a renewed commitment to do what is right regardless of the consequences.”

This week in his blog subtitled “Notes on politics, mostly,” Hendrik Hertzberg also considers circularity and the timely term “palindrone” after a reader reminded him that in Ancient Greek, “the word ‘Palin’ means, more or less, ‘backwards’…in the sense of reversing direction.” For those afflicted by “Palinopsia,” Hertzberg recommends a radical palinectomy, and refers readers to Dr. Donald Fagen. I just hope this doesn’t have adverse effects on the National Association of Lutheran Interim Pastors, a good lot, no doubt.

Continuing with the theme of reversals, Hertzberg suggests that the sustained attention lately paid to the McCain campaign is due in large part to convention scheduling: “If the order of this year’s Conventions had been reversed, we would now be looking at a very different set of story lines. The final, reverberating impression left by the Conventions would not have been Sarah Palin’s everygal charm but Barack Obama’s stirring specifics delivered to a cheering throng of eighty thousand under the lights.”

Earlier, Hertzberg reminded us that Sarah Palin’s line, “I told Congress, ‘Thanks but no thanks’ for that bridge to nowhere up in Alaska” is “an absurd lie.” Moving from dublicity to wordcraft, Hertzberg was no happier with Mitt Romney’s convention speech, in which the former governor lamented the current atmosphere in Washington, which is apparently way too liberal for his taste. In this post, Hertzberg may be documenting the birth of something truly horrendous: the cut-and-paste political speech. Though maybe that train has already left the station.

Sasha Frere-Jones laments the passing (from Union Square) of his favorite street band, and rejoices in Jay Smooth’s debunking of hipster rap (as might we all, I suspect). He’s somewhere in the middle on the death of the broadcast music video: he notes the utter pointlessness of today’s Video Music Awards, but also remembers the genre’s glory days.

Last week, Frere-Jones was excited for the New Yorker Festival’s dance party kick-off, which he has been hosting for a new years now. I’m excited, too, particularly as it’s set to be hosted by Megasoid, friend of Lazer Sword, of “Blap To The Future Megamix” fame. Yes. Frere-Jones’ organology lessons continued with an entry on the Roland TB-303 synthesizer. See previous posts on the Tenori-On and Auto-Tune. It’s for this education that I continue to be a devoted reader of the blog, despite the discovery that Frere-Jones recently compared the language of my new home to Cialis spam.

I had the chance to engage in my own nostalgic retrogression when I listened to Blake Eskin’s interview with Adam Gopnik on the New Yorker Out Loud podcast. Gopnick wrote an article in this week’s New Yorker on Babar the Elephant. Turns out the beloved pachyderm is not beloved by all, with some seeing the books as a justification for colonialism and an apology for the westernizing policies of the French in Africa; that dapper green suit might not have been so innocent after all.

Gopnik gives a spirited defense and explains why Jean de Brunhoff’s story, despite its traumatic moments and questionable political innuendos, remains a wonderful tale for children and a witty, self-questioning piece for all.

In the previous edition of the podcast, Ariel Levy stopped by to talk about her article on Cindy McCain. Highlights include a look into the darker side of the McCain and Hensley families, Levy’s thoughts on the role of the First Lady, and Cindy McCain’s secret desire for duct tape. A good listen all around.

Finally, we hear from Andy Borowitz over at the Borowitz Report that Sarah Palin has adopted a new technique for her ABC interview: the Governor of Alaska is bringing a Magic Eight Ball along with her. I can think of at least one more special interest group that’s now pulling for McCain. Maybe they can build it right into the press-room podium.

Sarah Arkebauer

On an archived Fiction Podcast Edwidge Danticat discusses Junot Diaz’s “How to Date a Brown Girl (Black Girl, White Girl, or Halfie),” a provocative yet charming how-to guide. It’s scandalizing and poignant, and the post-reading discussion is not to be missed.

I was pretty thrilled to see Alex Ross reference my home state in his article on Karlheinz Stockton in The Rest Is Noise. He later posted a good quip from Bill O’Reilly, and an interesting treatise, replete with links, on his proposed “World Atonality Day.”

Meanwhile, at the Book Bench, there is news of a Booker Prize surprise, and the Bookspotters find a lost math book, and Augusten Burroughs’ “Running with Scissors.” I also really enjoyed the vision of what being the British Poet Laureate would entail, and the post that includes a link to the blog “Librarians Against Palin.”

Goings On had plenty to say about Sarah Palin as well. First came a disturbing report by Andrea K. Scott on Palin’s treatment of Wasilla’s Historical Museum workers, which was followed by an interesting post by Scott on the Met’s new director that includes a Palin jab. In non-Palin-related events, Scott also wrote up news on political ice cream and financially grim music.

I attended public elementary and middle school during the 1990s-2000s, and have witnessed “Garfield”-related motivational posters that seem to be an obligatory part of modern American education. Despite—or perhaps because of—this, I love reading the online comic strip “Garfield Minus Garfield,” which, as the name would suggest, prints real Garfield comic strips with the title character airbrushed out. I was thoroughly amused, then, by the interview between Dan Walsh, the creator of “Garfield Minus Garfield” and Zachary Kanin at The Cartoon Lounge. Kanin also continues the sandwich duel with the twelfth (cliff-hanging) thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth installments. Farley Katz also posted a turgid review of Bangkok Dangerous.

My favorite piece, though, was a flippant and funny ode to E. E. Cummings, by Drew Dernavich. It makes me yearn for the puddle-wonderful days of springtime.

Editor’s note: The proper capitalization of Cummings’s name is one of my favorite pedantic poodles. See here for a thorough, and historically sound, explanation.

Previous intern roundups: the September 5 report; the August 29 report; the August 22 report; the August 15 report; the August 8 report; the August 1 report; the July 25 report; the July 18 report; the July 11 report.


Great job, guys!

Aww, man … I’m sorry summer’s over and you guys are going. I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts and dipping into the links you found.

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2008 Webby Awards Official Honoree