Day: February 5, 2017

Boycott: A Definition

In the last couple of days, both Nordstrom’s and Neiman Marcus have dropped Ivanka Trump’s jewelry line, which is not what I’m posting about. Both have also released statements saying it’s not because of a boycott, but because of poor sales. What…do they think a boycott is? Something other than people not buying a thing? What is that something?

This message brought to you by my continued insistence that words mean themselves.

boycott = putting male children to bed early so you can spend your time buying jewelry?

boycott = covering for a floatation device when you’re from the northeast and have a really clipped accent (other people would call this a buoy coat)



The Lincoln Motion Picture Company

We don’t have copies of the vast majority of silent films, due to poor storage conditions, archive fires, or deliberate destruction of dangerous nitrate material (and/or recovery of silver stock), so I only have a fragment of “By Right of Birth” with which to evaluate The Lincoln Motion Picture Company, founded by brothers George and Noble Johnson in reaction to “The Birth of a Nation.” LMPC was, as far as we know, the first all-black movie production company, and it lasted from 1916-1921.

Due to racism, they were never able to secure distribution outside of the African American community, even though they were making films intended for a broad audience, with storylines that should have been relatable to just about anyone. But they did inspire a generation of black filmmakers to throw their hats in the ring.

From this fragmented clip, two things stand out:

(1) the bit at the beginning where a guy is tired of walking, and his shoes are smoking to show his feet are hot, and he takes off his mustache to cool down – comedy gold.

(2) the acting, makeup, and lighting are much, much more naturalistic than I have ever seen in a film from this period. Consequently, this film feels much less old than it should. I don’t know whether that’s a reflection of the talents of the Johnson brothers, or whether it suggests that black performers of the time weren’t as contaminated by the extremely mannered theatrical styles that still dominated white performances.

It’s hard to generalize, because there aren’t a lot of other surviving films from the same period that have african americans both in front of and behind the camera; the closest I know of is “Body and Soul” by Oscar Micheaux (1925), which is more stagey but not maximum stagey. So I’m inclined to credit the Johnsons a fair amount as visionaries who saw the direction film was going to go.

Anyway, for black history month day 5, I suggest you watch this short clip for at least long enough to get to the mustache gag.

She Bop

Ciro has informed me that several linguists think the “s” ending in the third person singular is on the way out, because it adds complication without additional clarification. (I read. You read. We read. They read. He reads – what is that s doing there?) You can drop it without losing any meaning. It’s vestigal, and will wither away as the English language continues to evolve.

I should never have been trusted with this knowledge.

I am extremely tempted to drop the s in all my writing and speaking henceforth, which would make me seem stupid (or foreign) to more conservative contemporary readers – but infinitely more readable in THE FUTURE.

We really don’t need it, and haven’t for ages. I mean, listen.

Nic says: Don’t you want someone to read your writing one day and be charmed by the antiquated way your ideas are expressed? like seeing ‘f’s for ‘s’s in the Bill of Rights

Romie: Am now considering doing a verbal s-f substitute to really mess with people. She runf, he walkf, she singf.

Nic: Also I’ve just realised “Bill of Rights” is a genius name for a 90s sitcom about someone called Bill who is always fighting for his rights or something…

Rex: That’s Bill Wright of the Inalienable Wrights.

Rebecca says: Alternatively, you could leave off the s and invent an accent for the preceeding consonant and really piss off everyone. They would have to learn it, and have to reprogram all the keyboards. I read, they read, she reađ. She walķ, he kniţ, she throw×, he barf*. For the vowels the French already have an accent for missing s’s: she writê.

Maria says: What may be the blind side is the adaptation of a popular lisp, for which the errant s will be reallocated into any combination of syllables, with or without subtext.