Emdashes—Modern Times Between the Lines

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Before it moved to The New Yorker:
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Best of Emdashes: Hit Parade
A Web Comic: The Wavy Rule


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.


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.


We haven’t been posting much, you say? We know it. We’ve all been busy doing other things, including Martin Schneider’s stylish new project, Box Office Boffo. In his words, he’s “blogging every #1 movie in America from 1970 to the present day.” Even better: “Every week there’s a #1 movie at the box office, and I’m going to watch them all.” Not only do you get close inspections of movies like The Owl and the Pussycat and Beneath the Planet of the Apes, and whole years in review, you get the original posters, which will make you nostalgic in all kinds of ways.

Meanwhile, Pollux, our favorite painter/cartoonist/New Yorker cover critic/Renaissance man, just had a show at Artlife South Bay. Jonathan Taylor went back to grad school, proving once again that he’s both a gentleman and a scholar, and I’ve been working on a relaunch of The Washington Spectator’s website and writing theater reviews for Time Out Chicago.

So our collective focus has been elsewhere. But speaking for myself, I’m feeling emdashy again. There’s work to be done and punctuation marks to be shepherded, shorn, and protected from the elements.

—Emily Gordon


Emily Gordon writes:

Via our friends at UnBeige:

With his moncole at the ready and a butterfly his constant companion, Eustace Tilley has been The New Yorker‘s dapper mascot since founding art director Rea Irvin sketched him into being in 1925. The magazine recently invited readers to put their own twist on the discerning dandy in its fourth Eustace Tilley design contest. And this year’s competition came with a bookish bonus: the grand-prize winner’s design printed on a Strand Bookstore tote bag (an icon for an icon!) and a $1,000 Strand shopping spree. After sifting through roughly 600 entries, New Yorker art editor Françoise Mouly has selected a dozen winners, now featured in a slideshow on the magazine’s web site. The victorious Eustaces range from Seattle-based Dave Hoerlein‘s cartographic version (“A Dandy Map of New York”) to a Facebook-ready Tilley created by Nick McDowell of Mamaroneck, New York. Savannah-dwelling William Joca‘s “Cubist Tilley” was inspired by the work of Picasso (with a sprinkling of Ben-Day dots for good measure), while Pixo Hammer of Toronto channeled Joan Miro. As for the big winner, keep guessing (Grecian Eustace? Symbolic Eustace? Eustace through the years?). The champion and the tote bag will be revealed this spring.

My favorite of the examples UnBeige selected is by San Francisco illustrator and comic and storyboard artist Gary Amaro, whose other beautiful and emotionally charged work (including some remarkably fine nudes and figure drawings) you should look at here.

In other, or you could even say similar, passionate-niche news, I really like these nerd cakes. (continued)

Emily Gordon writes:

A sausage chain of inky links:

Friend Laura Miller wrote about this at (on? for? I tried all three, and this has been driving me crazy for years, but I’m going to stick with “at,” I guess) Salon: Hideous fonts may boost reading comprehension.

At Slate, Jon Lackman asks the overdue question, “Why do Tea Partiers uppercase so many of their nouns?” Is it anyone else’s observation, especially those, like me, who have taught college English, that a lot of Americans capitalize a lot of nouns? I wonder if English is using the people who do this as a psychic medium to contact its former incarnations. Lackman alludes to this: “In the century prior to 1765, nouns were generally capitalized. (The reason for this is now obscure; Benjamin Franklin hypothesized that earlier writers ‘imitated our Mother Tongue, the German.’)”

Leila Cohan-Miccio wrote this at Splitsider, the site in the invincible trio of already extremely funny sites that’s specifically about the field/world/pathology of comedy: “In Defense of Judd Apatow’s Female Characters,” which reminds me of the rousing


2008 Webby Awards Official Honoree