Saturday, July 30, 2005

“Ready or not, the future comes just the same.”

The Movie: Blue Car, 2002 (Karen Moncrieff, director and screenwriter)
Who says it: David Strathairn as Mr. Auster, an English teacher
The context: This is a line from Auster’s novel, which he reads to his student, Meg (Agnes Bruckner). He quotes it after he introduces Meg to his son.
How to use it: When something is ending.

Thanks again to Gary for recommending this small and lovely film. It generated great buzz at Sundance in 2002, but never attracted the wider attention it deserves. Agnes Bruckner, who got an Independent Spirit nomination for this role, is one of those actresses like Sarah Polley -- a compelling screen presence who ought to be a huge star, but will never be on the cover of PEOPLE.

And happy birthday today to my cool and elegant cousin Kathleen, who has been the object of my admiration since before we were picking out our own clothes.

The theme for the second incarnation of this blog, beginning September 1, is Terms of Art. Every day I'll take a word or phrase of jargon from some specialized discipline -- medicine, law, engineering, finance, publishing, music, etc. -- and explain how to drop the jargon into ordinary conversation.

I hope this will be fun and educational -- it will be for me, at any rate -- but I have ulterior motives. Jargon can be colorful and imaginative, and serves its purpose as verbal shorthand. But it also exists to draw lines between Those Who Know and Those Who Don't. Jargon creates and reinforces bonds among members of a group, but it also acts as a barrier to entry, isolating its users and alienating outsiders. Anything that helps us learn to talk to each other across boundaries must be good, right? (said the builders of the Tower of Babel...)

Terms of Art will need far more help from my friends than You Talking to Me? has, because regardless of what I pretend after a few drinks, I don't know everything and I can't learn everything from books. Please send me the phrases you use in your own work that would mystify outsiders; the e-mail link in my profile will stay live during my month off, and I'm not taking a break from e-mail.

This site won't go anywhere, although I'll probably monkey with the template before starting Terms of Art. The archives will stay up as long as Blogger allows.

The Friday reading lists will continue in the new blog, and I'm toying with the idea of continuing those reading lists even through August-- we'll see. It might be better for me to go cold turkey for a month; don't they say you need 28 days?


Anonymous said...

sorry, but I don't see Sarah Polley as a "screen presence"--she seems more like yet another generic, too skinny starlet to me, but then again, I only saw her in one film and can't even remember the name of it. Something about the Gold Rush in Canada with Milla Jovovich (hold on, I'm checking imdb before I post this). Got it: THE CLAIM (2000)

AnswerGirl said...

I haven't seen "The Claim," but she's wonderful in "Guinevere," "Go," and especially in "The Sweet Hereafter," where she also sings. Her cover of The Tragically Hip's "Courage" is better than the original.

Anonymous said...

Nothing, never, is better than Tragically Hip. Except maybe all the bands that actually are better than the Hip.

Irregardless (do malaprops count as jargon?) leave the Hip to the Hip. And there really aren't that many bands who could mix music and lyrics in such a way that the following from "Courage" feels like the greatest truth ever sung:

Watch the band
Through a bunch of dancers
Quickly follow the unknown
With something more familiar
Something familiar

A word
Couldn't come, doesn't matter

-- Ed

Anonymous said...

P.S. "The Sweet Hereafter" is a great movie, but make sure you've had a couple of really good weeks before you sit down to watch it. What's that word that means "bleak, depressing, and hopeless is actually an improvement you're hoping for"? [Insert "Maine" or "Canadian" joke here]


AnswerGirl said...

Ed -- You are wrong about this, and it's no insult to The Tragically Hip. I'm not sending you my copy of "The Sweet Hereafter" soundtrack, because it's a cherished gift, but I'll let you listen to it next time I come to D.C.