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Author Topic: Help With Self/Peer Reviewing  (Read 7541 times)
Altivo
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« Reply #15 on: April 05, 2011, 07:07:34 PM »

Hee! I'd suggest we could do without pugnastics because it should properly be pugilistics. Some of those others are interesting. "Long-play" is of course rendered obsolete by changing technology, as are many other things. My father called the refrigerator "the ice box." My grandmother called a modern stereo a "gramophone" while my other grandmother called the same device a "Victrola." Colorful as these terms are, there's really no way to save them from obsolescence. Those of us who write period stories may well use them, but depending on our audience, we will also have to somehow explain them (at least indirectly.)

I'm a bit more worried that today's kids and many adults can no longer tell time from a round, analog clock dial. That's a technology that is less common than it once was, but is still very much with us. I doubt that Big Ben will be switched to digital displays at any time in the foreseeable future. Banks may put up digital clocks now, but civic and church buildings still use analog dials at least on the exterior. And I'm quite fond of my pocket watch, which still has to be wound manually once a day and has little gears and springs inside.  Cheesy

I'll be happy to join your movement to save the subjunctive, but I think I've been trying for a long time. It's still slipping away from us. Just read any newspaper to see.
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Reiter
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« Reply #16 on: April 05, 2011, 07:26:41 PM »

Jesus, 'Tivo, your accounts of American life are horrifying. They're like something out of "Fahrenheit 451". I do hope that's just hyperbole, with the clock face, because I am This Close to sticking my fingers in my ears and singing.

Maybe we could maybe start a website for the subjunctive thing, direct writers to it and such. Or we could mention it in critiques. Once SL Mark II is up and running, we'd be perfectly poised to spread the Gooder Knowledge.
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Altivo
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« Reply #17 on: April 05, 2011, 07:33:00 PM »

I have to wax phony-eloquent about another of those fading words:

Ah, the dime store. A favorite haunt of my childhood, doomed to the ignominy of obsolescent language. Call it a "ten cent store" or a "dime store" or a "five and dime," it matters not. The inevitability of inflation rendered the terminology obsolete long before the institution itself faded away. I believe the concept was born in the US, and it is quite dead here. I don't know where to find one any more, and the chains of "dollar stores" that have sprung up fail to fill the gap. I can easily picture the dime stores of my childhood, with their creaky wooden floors, ceiling fans, and aisle after aisle of bins filled with fascinating (to me anyway) items now forgotten and lost in time. Gods does that make me feel old. Rubber balls, jacks, bubble soap, modeling clay, sneakers and tennis shoes that smelled of rubber cement, piles of yellow pencils, erasers, and cheap writing tablets, knitting needles and colorful yarn, ten cent comic books, and (in my case at least) grumpy old Mr. Eason who owned the store and watched us kids as if he were a hawk looking for a meal. No shop lifting under his sharp eye, you wouldn't think of it. The smell of his cigar smoke is forever tied into that imagery for me...

Alas, in America the ten cent store is no more. Woolworth's, Gamble's, Kresge, Jupiter, Sam's, and Ben Franklin are little more than a fading memory treasured by folks my age or older. Ray Bradbury's Green Town, though it lived in the 1920s, is quite real to me and probably unimaginable to today's kids.

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Altivo
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« Reply #18 on: April 05, 2011, 07:36:13 PM »

American life is not what it once was, Reiter. Today it is a pile of fast food wrappers, and hours spent in front of the high definition television screen either watching garbage "reality" shows or playing console videogames. The elements that once marked American culture with its own unique qualities are fading away, some slowly, some so fast that they are already doomed.
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Alflor
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« Reply #19 on: April 05, 2011, 07:45:16 PM »

@Altivo
The only people with the power to change America's image are Americans.
By describing America as a land of fast-food wrappers and reality TV shows, you're surrendering. You are admitting that this is the way things are. It's all about denial and a dogged pursuit of ideals. That's how things get done. If everyone admits failure and sits back to watch the world crumble, then we've already lost.
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Altivo
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« Reply #20 on: April 05, 2011, 07:49:23 PM »

I really believe we have already lost, Alflor. I can't stop the tide or hold back the rain. No one can. The world changes. America is what it is, and I am an old fuddy-duddy who resists changes. Nothing more, and no one cares.

I grew up in the America that you see in paintings by Norman Rockwell and Edward Hopper. But they are dead, and so is that America. What we have now is some mixture of comic book illustrations and Andy Warhol.
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« Reply #21 on: April 05, 2011, 07:57:21 PM »

But it can be brought back. Worse things are being overcome around the world as I write this. Plagues that take lives rather than just culture. The Egyptians, the Libyans -- they all fight because they long for something more. Our fight is much more simple. All we have to do stop supporting the things we dislike and promote the things we want to see. If you don't want a word to disappear from existence, use it; use it in speech, in writing. Hell, Shakespeare made words up and they stuck. And I'm not just talking about you or any other single person. Everyone who complains about the state of things needs to get up and try to do something about it. There are certainly enough of us. Besides, the people who subscribe to the current "American Lifestyle" are stupid -- they can easily be used and manipulated.
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Altivo
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« Reply #22 on: April 05, 2011, 08:10:30 PM »

Besides, the people who subscribe to the current "American Lifestyle" are stupid -- they can easily be used and manipulated.

There's some truth in that, but to manipulate them it usually takes a lot of money. Big corporations are ready and able to do that. Writers have a very hard time making an impression on a culture that no longer values words or reading. I realize I sound like a pessimist, and that's because half a century of life has left me little but dry cynicism where I was once full of ideals and hope. We thought in the 1960s that we could change the world. We failed. Most members of my generation have sold out to the values and greed of today's America.  Those who didn't are either dead of drug overdoses or have become sour old prunes like myself.

I live as if my way were right. I can do nothing else. But I have little expectation that it will influence the course of what is happening all around me.
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Lutrina Lontra
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« Reply #23 on: April 05, 2011, 08:25:31 PM »

"Writers have a very hard time making an impression on a culture that no longer values words or reading."

That is about as true as it gets.
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Alflor
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« Reply #24 on: April 05, 2011, 08:26:59 PM »

Writers have a very hard time making an impression on a culture that no longer values words or reading.

Writers of books, perhaps. Screenplays, however, are very much in demand. It's all about slipping things in and letting them fester and ferment. If it's done in a careful enough manner, it's easy to get away with and you can imprint long-lasting messages into people's minds without them ever knowing.
I recall the word "gunsel" being used in a Humphrey Bogart film. It means something akin to a child slave, but nobody knew its meaning at the time and it worked its way into American vocabulary as something completely different than it once was.
It's all about subtlety.
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« Reply #25 on: April 05, 2011, 09:09:56 PM »

@Alflor: That is possible, but screenplays have a pretty severe limitation in that the only words the audience is aware of are the ones in the dialogue. If the screenwriter is skilled and resourceful and willing enough to sound like Rodgers & Hammerstein, then he *could* write a character quirky and/or well-read enough that he can bring dying words and concepts back to the masses. Otherwise you're constrained to the maximum ~7000 words used in everyday conversation.

Here's the magnitude of your problem: how do you explain what "seersucker", "pulchritude", and "rancorous" mean without sounding stuffy or pretentious? Or any other uncommon word that carries the precise nuance you need *in narrative*?
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Altivo
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« Reply #26 on: April 05, 2011, 09:15:50 PM »

Too true. Let alone subtleties such as the subjunctive or the difference between imperfect and pluperfect?  Grin

Certainly you can hide some ideas in entertainment of the sort that is popular today, and maybe get people to actually take hold of them, but it's a very delicate and complex task. In fact, if you are good at it, you'll make a fortune working for an advertising agency. And that, my friends, is where today's American culture would put you, too.
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« Reply #27 on: April 05, 2011, 09:43:54 PM »

Hear, hear. Anecdote: Part of the reason I liked the TV series "24" was it tried to resolve the moral-ethical dilemma, "Is it worth sacrificing a few to save the many? If they have families? Influence? If they're bad guys? Etc etc." Then '24' hit a sweet spot with the public, and before you knew it Jack Bauer was getting Oscars and cameos in the Simpsons, and '24' became less about philosophy and ethics and more kabooms and kablooies. I still watch it, but not as attentively as I did when it first came out.

Hardcore sci-fi series like "Fringe" and "Firefly" had hard times maintaining high ratings despite the depth of the concepts they explored. One of them was canceled; the other almost was. TV and film companies go after entertainment, not ideas. In some cases, those two overlap, and you get films like "Memento", "The Social Network", and "Star Wars" (the original). If you're good at making noise, you can probably get people to talk about your themes for a few months, a year at most. Again, though, those are just the concepts - that won't do anything for language or grammar.
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Quinn Yellowfox
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« Reply #28 on: April 05, 2011, 09:47:41 PM »

Here's the magnitude of your problem: how do you explain what "seersucker", "pulchritude", and "rancorous" mean without sounding stuffy or pretentious? Or any other uncommon word that carries the precise nuance you need *in narrative*?

Unfortunately uninformed masses can destroy a writer or speaker even when vocabulary is used properly. Case in point "Niggardly." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Controversies_about_the_word_%22niggardly%22

With respect to cultural drift that is seen, not only in the US but also in Europe, I'm reminded of the song "On the Border" by Al Stewart:

... In the village where I grew up
Nothing seems the same.
Still you never see the change
From day to day.
No one notices the customs slip away.

Late last night the rain was knocking on my window,
I moved across the darkened room, and in the lamp-glow,
I thought I saw down in the street,
The spirit of the century
Telling us that we're all standing
On the border.

In the islands where I grew up,
Nothing seems the same.
It's just the patterns that remain,
An empty shell.
But there's a strangeness in the air you feel too well...


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« Reply #29 on: April 06, 2011, 12:03:39 AM »

Hardcore sci-fi series like "Fringe" and "Firefly" had hard times maintaining high ratings despite the depth of

Not a big fan of "Fringe" at all. It all felt so contrived and cliché. It tried too hard to be the "X-Files" -- a series that did incredibly well in the States despite its genre and lack of pop-culture references  -- and failed in every aspect.

Like I said in our discussion about books. If a book is written in such a way that it instantly grabs 9/10 people, you can cram it with whatever messages you want to propagate, and the people will eat it up.
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