Thursday, May 19, 2011

Around the Word

How to spend a Daisy summer day: Looking for some literary-themed summer fun around New York? Why not take a twirl on the Great Gatsby Boat Tour. Our friends at GalleyCat turned us on to this the two- hour cruise around Long Island Sound and Manhasset Bay, which familiarizes riders with the harbor that inspired Fitzgerald's imagination, taking them to the peninsulas of East Egg (Sand's Point) and West Egg (King's Point). So ladies, don your flappers, and gents, hold tight to your fedoras, as you try to envision where Gatsby's mansion might have stood.

Gradmaster flashes: To mark this year's graduation season, and make the most of us who had to suffer through a Dr. Smartypants drone of a speech jealous, Ragan has assembled a list of the 10 Most Memorable Commencement Speakers. Those who made the cut include brand names like Steve Jobs, J.K. Rowling, Bono, and Will Ferrell, though what makes them stand out is not their celebrity, but that they were spunky, candid, and not afraid to tell it like it is. Take this quote from Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss: "And as you partake of the world's bill of fare, that's darned good advice to follow. Do a lot of spitting out the hot air. And be careful what you swallow."

More than Portnoy's complaint: Philip Roth, one of American letter's great engines of turbulence, is at it again. The revered novelist's recent selection as this year's winner of Britain's presitigious Man Booker Prize has set off a very public controversy, with one of the three judges on the panel, Carmen Callil, resigning in protest of the award. "I don't rate him as a writer at all. I made it clear I wouldn't have put him on the longlist, so I was amazed when he stayed there. He was the only one I didn't admire," Callil told The Guardian. Callil also claims the decision process was rushed and un-collaborative, "You can't be asked to judge and then not judge." Callil plans to publish and essay in the Guardian Review this Saturday about why Roth didn't deserve to win.

The most awe-ful word of the year: "Awesome" is no longer just the jarring province of rich pre-madonnas like Cher Horowitz in Clueless -- it is now regarded as the most over (and mis-) used word in the English language to date. We forget that awesome not only captures moments of "joyful awe" but can also inspire terror, as evidenced by the phrase, "the awesome power of the sea." As a public service, Ragan has taken to sources ranging from Wikipedia to to find alternatives for the word, and has currently assembled a list of 45 synonyms including astonishing, dazzling, and groovy. What alternatives do you think could be added to their Anti-Awesome List?

1 comment:

Katherine Summers said...

Not to nitpick, but did you mean "prima donna" rather than "pre-madonna" with your Clueless comment?