Thursday, October 25, 2007

pars orationis

The other day I received a delightful book in the post: Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences (2006) by Kitty Burns Florey. (It’s in the same humorous vein as The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: A Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed (1993) by Karen Elizabeth Gordon.) Diagramming sentences became all the craze in the States back towards the end of the 19th century owing to a book written by two fellows, Alonzo Reed and Brainerd Kellogg: Higher Lessons in English: A work on English Grammar and Composition, in Which the Science of the Language is Made Tributary to the Art of Expression: A Course of Practical Lessons Carefully Graded and Adapted to Every-day Use in the School Room (1886, revised edition 1896). Diagramming remained a stable of English grammatical pedagogy up until Chomsky sounded the death knell to structural linguistics in the late ’50s.

diagramming sentences

I noticed on her site that Ms Florey is coming to Mrs. Dallow’s bookstore in Berkeley on November 20th. I’ll have to attend her talk.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

pipes all the way down

Robert Sullivan has written an interesting article (“This Is Not a Bob Dylan Movie”) for the New York Times Magazine about Todd Haynes’ Bob Dylan biopic (I’m Not There). Two things come immediately to mind: Velvet Goldmine (1998) and Christine Vachon. Haynes and Vachon are a major part of the New Queer Cinema, which, for a while, gave the tired, old cinema a run for its money.

Todd Haynes’s Dylan project is a biopic starring six people as Bob Dylan, or different incarnations of Bob Dylan, including a 13-year-old African-American boy, Marcus Carl Franklin, and an Australian woman, Cate Blanchett. It’s a biopic with a title that takes it name from one of the most obscure titles in the Dylan canon, a song available only as a bootleg, called I’m Not There.

Included amongst the avatars of Dylan, besides Franklin and Blanchett, are: Christian Bale, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger, and Ben Whishaw. The article makes it out to be a 20 million dollar experimental film, which I suppose is possible in a de-con, pomo sort of way. I might not even wait for the DVD of this one, but drag myself out to a matinée. I’m sure that niche in the multiplex will be close to empty. Now, if only, they could manage to keep the picture in focus.

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