Emdashes. Modern Times Between the Lines.

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Harold Ramis says ten. (The screenwriter, Danny Rubin, invites you to pony up to find out what he thinks.) These folks say eight years, eight months, and sixteen days. My favorite estimate comes from this brilliant breakdown, which gives it as 12,403 days of Sonny and Cher and sweet vermouth on the rocks with a twist, or almost 34 years. Poor Phil. He really earned that happy ending.

—Emily Gordon


Martin Schneider writes:

It was a curious scene Monday night at 92Y. Steve Martin and Deborah Solomon, who is responsible for the "Questions For" feature in The New York Times Magazine, were slated to entertain a mostly filled Kaufmann Concert Hall (and, via simulcast, many other viewers at synagogues around the country) with an hour or so of lively chat.

It took only a few minutes for Solomon to alienate the audience thoroughly.

Solomon's strategy was to treat the event like a book report, covering, almost chapter by chapter, Martin's new novel about the art world, An Object of Beauty. As Martin pointed out, it was wise to assume that the


“Obsessing about fonts is a form of procrastination, so of course I have indulged in it ever since I graduated from a TRS-80 Model III to a Macintosh.” —Caleb Crain

“The main thing, though, is to use some nonproportional typewriter-style font—you need the sentences to look their worst until the dress rehearsal of the galleys, when all the serifs come out dancing.”
—Nicholson Baker

Emily Gordon writes:

My Chicago actor pal Lance Baker, taking a break from rehearsing Speed-the-Plow, just pointed out this 2007 gem from Slate: “My Favorite Font: Anne Fadiman, Jonathan Lethem, Richard Posner, and others reveal what font they compose in and why.” I wonder if they’ve all changed their minds by now? Caleb, how about you?

That thought sent me searching for this hilarious Jessica Hische post from earlier this year, a mini-autobiography of a typophile called “My Evolution of Type Taste from Grade School to Present”—click to enlarge and read her arch asides on questionable font attractions. Meanwhile, ambling along the googleway, I landed on this post about various other designers’ favorite faces.

All this brought me, musically and giddily, back to the song that is in my head 1) every time I see my sunscreen, which is called Sport Face, and 2) every time I hear Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face.” Yes, it’s DD40’s (Jason Kinney and Mark Searcy) Gaga-meets-typographer beards spectacular, “Neutra Face.” Here’s what Michael Conroy at the Wired U.K. blog wrote about it:

In a video that smacks of “it’s Friday afternoon, why not?” four guys have remixed Lady GaGa’s Poker Face into an homage to Neutraface, the light and airy modern font that I’m sure you’re all very familiar with…or perhaps not.

Either way, the sight of four hirsute men reimagining the Poker Face clip to perfection (“You’ll read my, you can read my Neutraface…even if it’s bold italic”) is sure to make you smile, not least their brilliantly choreographed moves portraying “bold” and “italic”, which should be licensed for use on dance floors everywhere.

Check out this and other songs DD40 have released - on cassette tape, no less - at their website.

I’ve seen this video several dozen times since it first rocked the world of fonty montys everywhere, and I still think it’s incredibly funny. And (as the YouTube commenters well know) damn sexy, too!

Speaking of design and Art, and Speed-the-Plow, aren’t these handsome posters for the American Theater Company’s new season? Images after the jump.


Emily Gordon writes:

A few stars—and we don’t mean asterisks—are emerging in our punctuation-addressing contest to win Ben Greenman’s new book, What He’s Poised to Do. Here are the rankings of letter recipients so far, out of 82 entries and counting. What does this say about these marks, or about us as a society? We don’t know. All we know is, some of these little symbols are coming home with an armful of valentines (and a little hate mail), and some are Charlie Brown, weeping into their sandwiches. If you’re for the underdog, as we generally are, take a moment to send a note to, say, the solitary slash, or, for that matter, the ubiquitous but apparently invisible backslash. Send a salami to your manicule in the army! Keep those cards and letters coming.

The current rankings (to be updated frequently for those placing bets):
Ellipsis: 10
Semicolon (which has withstood some harsh attacks in the past): 8
Apostrophe: 7
Exclamation Point: 7
At sign: 3
Ampersand: 3
Asterisk: 3
Colon: 3
Parentheses: 3
Period: 5
em dash: 2
Grawlix: 2
Interrobang: 2
Manicule: 2
Question Mark: 2
Tilde: 2

Tied with one piece of fan (or unfan) mail each: acute accent, air quote, at-the-price-of, bracket, bullet, comma, curly quote, diaeresis, dollar sign en dash, exclaquestion mark, hyphen, interpunct, interroverti (formerly the inverted question mark), macron, percent sign, pilcrow, pound sign, quotation mark, smart quote, underline, Oxford comma.

No postcards, no wedding invitations, no junk mail, no J. Crew catalogue, no nuthin’: backslash, bullet, caret, copyright symbol, dagger, dash ditto mark, degree, ditto mark, double hyphen, inverted exclamation point, guillemets, lozenge, number sign (number sign! that’s the hashtag you use so shamelessly!), the “therefore” and “because” signs, slash, solidus, and tie.

Here are some stark and potentially upsetting images of those characters who have received no mail. Can you look into their fragile strokes and deny them the notice they crave?

\ • © ^ ° † ‡ « » = 〃 ⁀ ◊ ∴ ∵ ¡ # / ⁄

Note: We realize that some of these marks are really less punctuation than they are typographical elements. But since they’re getting letters, or we think they should, we’re including them.


2008 Webby Awards Official Honoree