Monday, September 17, 2018

The Peculiar Greatness of the Coens

I don't think about directors much. If I were a true cinephile, then not only would I be knowledgeable about directors, but probably also cinematographers and even editors. Since I am only at best a dilettante, however, I mostly think about movies in the context of what is directly visible on screen.

Joel and Ethan Coen are something of an exception to this. I'm a fan of them and most of their work, and even when their work doesn't impress me as being good, the root ideas behind the execution strike me as interesting and worthwhile topics for a film. (Burn After Reading, for example, is a movie I didn't like a lot, but the concept of a comedy of errors involving self-absorbed, petty people interacting with the cloak-and-dagger world seems like it should be interesting and funny. Spoiler: it's not.)

I tweeted a list of rankings for their movies recently, and it's inclusive of 14 of the 17 movies they've made. (I haven't seen the other three, yet. Another is scheduled to be released in a couple months.) I haven't seen A Serious Man, The Man Who Wasn't There, or their remake of The Ladykillers. I should, though I didn't like the original version of The Ladykillers.

Weekly Basho Haiku #38


the woodcutter
keeps his mouth closed
tall bed-straw grass

yamagatsu no
otogai tozuru
mugara kana

~Basho

Translated by Jane Reichhold

Monday, September 10, 2018

Weekly Basho Haiku #37


evening faces
trying to peel a dried gourd
for sour rice

yugao mi
kanpyo muite
asobi keri

~Basho

Translated by Jane Reichhold

Monday, September 03, 2018

Weekly Basho Haiku #36


pine and cedar
to admire the wind
smell the sound

matsu sugi o
homete ya kaze no
kaoru oto

~Basho

Translated by Jane Reichhold

Monday, August 27, 2018

Weekly Basho Haiku #35


pine wind
needles falling on the water's
cool sound

matsu kaze no
ochiba ka mizu no
oto suzushi

~Basho

Translated by Jane Reichhold

Monday, August 20, 2018

Weekly Basho Haiku #34


life's journey
plowing the patch of rice field
back and forth

yo o tabi ni
shiro kaku oda no
yuki modori

~Basho

Translated by Jane Reichhold

Friday, August 17, 2018

Linguistic Jokes

Another word I've seen before, but I didn't really think of it as word (just as a meaningless Spanish-sounding name). In the wonderful Tintin books by Hergé, one of the recurring characters who appears in several stories is a General Alcazar who was constantly either overthrowing the government of his fictional Latin American country or being overthrown. Learning the definition gives it a bit more meaning and significance and I get the minor joke he was making.

alcazar, n.

A palace. Also: a fortress, a castle. Also fig.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

It's a Gene Wolfe Word!

I'm not doing a great job about getting these up each Wednesday and Friday (having missed last week), but I think it's getting better. Anyway, I don't normally do consecutive words because if I ever hope to get through the letter A, much less the OED entirely, I can't get bogged down. This needs to be an exception, however, since I didn't even notice that this was the next word when I picked the last one. I've seen this word before since Gene Wolfe borrowed it for describing characters in his Book of the Long Sun series. (Which, if you haven't read it, go get it from the library right now. It's so very, very good.) Disappointingly they don't use him as a citation.

alcalde, n.

Originally: (in Spain and Portugal) a magistrate or mayor of a town. In later use: (in the United States and parts of South America) an administrative officer of a town with the powers of a magistrate or a justice of the peace; the principal administrative person in an American mining camp (now hist.).

Monday, August 13, 2018

Weekly Basho Haiku #33


from a treetop
emptiness dropped down
in a cicada shell

kozue yori
adami ochi keri
semi no kara

~Basho

Translated by Jane Reichhold

Monday, August 06, 2018

Weekly Basho Haiku #32


a weird dark night
a fox crawls on the ground
for a beautiful melon

yami no yo to sugoku
kitsune shita bau
tama makuwa

~Basho

Translated by Jane Reichhold

Friday, August 03, 2018

An Archaic Form

Ancient poetic forms seem to have had more rigorous rules to follow. I sure wouldn't be able to write a poem worth anything following these rules.

Alcaic, n. and adj.

Prosody.

 A. n.

A poem, strophe (stanza), or line written in Alcaic metre (see sense B.). Usually in plural.

B. adj.

Written or composed in a metre traditionally attributed to Alcaeus; relating to or characteristic of this metre or verse written in it.

An Alcaic strophe in Greek and Latin poetry consists of four metrical units or lines, two of eleven syllables, followed by one of nine syllables and one of ten, each with a distinctive pattern of long and short syllables, and with a word-end after the fifth syllable in each of the first two lines. The metrical pattern of each line is used in other types of stanza and other forms of verse.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Not Shooting the Messenger

It's kinda nice to know there's a word out there that means the opposite of blaming someone who brings bad news.

albricia, n.

Compare Catalan albixena (late 13th cent.), albíxera (14th cent. or earlier), etc. (often in plural; compare albricies (plural), Portuguese alvissara (13th cent.).
Arabic bišāra (in Spanish Arabic usually bušāra) is ultimately < bašara to rejoice, to be delighted, to be happy; compare baššara to announce (something) as good news. The form of the Spanish word suggests borrowing of the Arabic word via an unattested colloquial Arabic variant *bišrā; compare the attested variants bušr, bušrā.

Now hist.

In Spain or Spanish contexts: a reward given to a messenger bearing good news. Usually in plural.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Weekly Basho Haiku #31


in a summer rain
the leg of the crane
becomes shorter

samidare ni
tsuru no ashi
mijikaku nareri

~Basho

Translated by Jane Reichhold

Friday, July 27, 2018

A Pale Imitation

It's been a while since I had an obscure female variation on a common word. This is one I never even thought about being possible or necessary. It seems more obscure than most of the others I've come across so far.

albiness, n.

Now hist. and rare.

A female albino.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

All Together Now

A nice useful word; it's a shame it's obsolete. Think about it for a second, you could use this in all kinds of situations. Fun bonus fact: it's a combination of two words, one of which is "all". So there's another obsolete word coming up when I eventually get to the next letter of the alphabet.

albedene, adv.

Obsolete.

1. As a group or total; altogether, collectively; all together. Also: one and all.

2. Completely, entirely; utterly.

3. Forthwith; immediately, presently.