Emdashes. Modern Times Between the Lines.

Best of Emdashes: Hit Parade
A Web Comic: The Wavy Rule
Before it moved to The New Yorker:
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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 and Groupons, 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 and Merideth Harte. Co-Emdasher Martin Schneider is writing Box Office Boffo, Paul Morris (a.k.a. Pollux) is doing a tremendous amount of fun and productive things—take a look at his Pinterest, for one—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)

Maud Newton puts the noble in Barnes & Noble in this terrific interview with Alison Bechdel. Here’s an intriguing pair of passages about Bechdel’s use of a digital font (made with Fontographer, as I recall from a recent event with the cartoonist at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago) instead of hand-lettering for her graphic novels:
BNR: …Apart from all your second-guessing of your writing itself, I’ve noticed that you’re really hard on yourself for using a font based on your handwriting to letter your frames.

AB: I do feel guilty about it, like it’s somehow cheating to use a digital font, and to not actually hand-letter my work. But at the same time, I have these lengthy passages of quotations from [Donald] Winnicott or from Virginia Woolf that I have obsessively hand-lettered.

(continued)

A rewatch of the original Ghostbusters prompted an urgent Google search, with these satisfying Metafilter results. The asker’s question (also my question):
Print is dead? I was watching Ghostbusters (1984) this weekend, and at one point the character Egon Spengler is asked a question, to which he responds: ‘Print is dead.” What is the earliest recorded use of this phrase?
Among the satisfying replies:
I found a reference in the Antioch Review (1967) that uses “print is dead” as the characterization for Marshall McLuhan’s scholarship, which make a lot of sense to me in this context. This previously is also pertinent.
And:
Someone else in that group also mentions that the “print is dead” line actually gained some popularity in the early 80s in tech circles as the personal computer gained prominence. It likely wasn’t the earliest recorded use, but Egon’s quote may have just been a result of the growing sentiment of the time.
Meanwhile, a recent post on Movies.com answers the question I somehow didn’t think to ask, which is what the various Ghostbusters would look like if they were cartoon ghosts. Now you know. (continued)

2008 Webby Awards Official Honoree
Inkleaf Studio illustration