CriticalDance Forum

Light Summer Reading
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Author:  djb [ Mon Jun 23, 2003 8:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Light Summer Reading

I know what you mean about Roman themes -- I think "Roman Holiday," "The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone" and "Three Coins in a Fountain" would make wonderful ballets!

(Sorry -- blame it on a fevered mind.)

Author:  Rosella [ Wed Jun 25, 2003 3:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Light Summer Reading

Well well, let's see, I do not know how or why but Buffy the Vampire Slayer has not tranformed my soul with her vampy touch, who knows, maybe a sly spell has been cast on me and I have become buffy-repellent...or maybe I am Buffy and I intend to search how far my fans can get....mmmh, mysterious....

Going back to dance reading I have recently come across an interesting essay in a very good dance book of criticism called "Meaning in Motion" edited by Jane C. Desmond. The essay in question is by Angela McRobbie and it is called 'Dance Narratives and Fantasies of Achievement'. It is about social dancing and the representation of dance in the mass media, with reference to "Fame" (film and tv series) and "Flashdance".

Another non-dance thing I am reading is a comic series called Rat-Man, by Italian comic drawer Leonardo Ortolani. I do not think he is being translated, not yet. His character, Rat-Man, embodies the parody of a more famous superheroe, Bat-Man. His adventures are so funny because he builds layers of different parodies so that one adventure also deals with a parody of Conan, another one with the delicate topic of clonation, another one with Spiderman (where Spiderman is actually a Media Company Rat-Man tries to get into).

Author:  Jeff [ Tue May 23, 2006 1:18 am ]
Post subject: 

Hello, CD friends, just coming out from under the usual end of the semester crunch. Enough about morality plays and mystery plays ... on to light summer reading ...

We had so much fun with this thread in the past, I thought it might be fun to see if anybody wanted to do book talk this year.


Before Anne Rice’s Queen of the Night, before Tanith Lee’s Scarabae, and Whitley Strieber’s Miriam, there was Henry Rider Haggard’s She: A History of Adventure (1887). She was an instant best seller in its day even eclipsing the novels that established Rider Haggard’s literary reputation, the Allan Quartermain novels (King Solomon’s Mines, Allan Quartermain, etc you get the idea).

She chronicles the African adventures of a middle aged Cambridge professor, his Adonis-like 25 year old “protégé,” and their manservant. The novel sucks the reader in quickly with an enigma, a mysterious package left by a dying man only to be opened when his son turns 25. The package turns out to be a porcelain shard upon which is inscribed the incredible tale of a priestess of Isis whose husband’s godlike beauty enchants the terrible and powerful queen of Kor, a lost kingdom of Africa. Refusing to betray his wife even for the gift of immortality, the husband is struck down by Ayesha, the “white goddess,” known to her people only as She-who-must-be-obeyed.

Exiled, the priestess inscribes the tale on the vase shard, enjoining her male descendants to return to the lost kingdom to seek vengeance upon She. Of course the young Cambridge Adonis is a reincarnation of Ayesha’s beloved and for whose return the tragic She has waited two millennia. There follow Indiana Jones like adventures with storms and ship wrecks on the African coast, journeys through poisonous swamps, cannibals, and hair’s breadth escapes from treacherous local natives. Of course I won’t give away the story just in the event somebody would like to read the novel.

She can, of course, be read as escapist fiction since it has all the elements such as an exotic, faraway setting, a straightforward narrative structure (the quest), and plenty of local color. But, I think it’s much more interesting to read She as the deeply problematic novel that it is. For one thing, She is so steeped full of imperialist rhetoric it goes beyond embarrassing to sheer amusing. Never mind that what some literary critics call “the quest motif” is also known as the “let’s go plunder Africa on our holiday” narrative. And, what besides imperialist fantasy can you can call a novel that imagines that at the heart of deepest and darkest Africa is a kingdom already conquered by an all powerful white woman surrounded by cowering, deaf, and dumb native servants?

And, speaking of the deeply problematic, the novel is worth the time just for its particularly aesthetic expression of Victorian sexual fears and fetishes. Let me see … there’s at least one allusion to pedophilia, at least two for corpse fetishism … only one for cannibalism but at least two kinds of illicit female desire (both punished by death) … shall I go on? The novel’s quest/plunder narrative prizes male bonding in a kind of weird pederastic manner while at the same time fetishing female sexuality in a kind of sick and trembling manner that is beyond merely juvenile. And, its primary female figure combines eroticism and death in a spectacular fantasy that can only be called necrophilia that should put paid to those scoffers who say that Victorian literature is sexless. No less a connoisseur of the literary eros and thanatos than Sigmund Freud recommended She as "a strange novel ... full of hidden meaning."

I love this quote from the introduction to Modern Library Classics edition:

Mr. E. M. Forster once spoke of the novelist sending down a bucket into the unconscious; [Haggard] installed a suction pump. He drained the whole reservoir of the people’s secret desires. (V.S. Pritchett commenting bemusedly on Rider Haggard’s continuing popularity)

Rider Haggard’s stature as an artist has suffered considerably over the intervening century since She or the Allan Quartermain novels were published (the novels are largely consigned to the juvenile section of the library). But, whether you want a simple escape adventure or a frightening/amusing sight seeing trip into the Victorian unconscious, you might want to give She a try.

Author:  Andre Yew [ Tue May 23, 2006 11:54 am ]
Post subject: 

Hi Jeff,

Glad to see you back! I have four books I'm working on:

Erik Franklin: Conditioning for Dance. Lots of dancers seem to like this figuring out their alignment, balance, etc.

Nicholas Antongiavanni: The Suit: A Machiavellian Approach to Men's Style. It's a book about men's clothing written in imitation of Machiavelli's The Prince)

Julie Kavanagh: Secret Muses: The Life of Frederick Ashton. I'm almost done with this one now --- it's a rambling, slightly gossipy account of Ashton's life.

Cyril Parkinson: Parkinson's Law Apparently this is one of the classic books on bureaucracy.


Author:  Jeff [ Wed May 24, 2006 1:46 am ]
Post subject: 

Andre, always happy to come out and play …

Thanks for your suggestions .. they are suggestions aren't they? The publisher claims that Antongiovanni is a pseudonym for a former speech writer for Bush and Mayor Guiliani. No more need be said. From the publisher:

The Suit is much more than a simple how-to manual — Antongiavanni packs these pages with insightful and sometimes stinging commentary on celebrities and the clothes they wear. Leading public figures from David Letterman to Donald Rumsfeld are picked apart at the seams. Antongiavanni uses powerful men in the public eye as entertaining examples of how to dress properly and what garish mistakes to avoid. Whether you are already a corporate Prince — or if you are a Joe Cubicle aspiring to be something greater — The Suit will teach you how to make your clothes work for you.No matter what your physical build or your status in the workplace, let Nicholas Antongiavanni be your fashion consultant.

You gotta love the perspective that form is content and the packaging is everything. Anybody who doesn't believe in the power of sheer appearances hasn't been in touch with current events.

What is in my book bag right now is a book on the classic MGM musical, The Wizard of Oz, part of the BFI Film Classics series. The BFI’s stroke of genius is to get none less than Salman Rushdie to discuss the film. Says Rushdie, “When I first saw The Wizard of Oz it made a writer of me.” In what is probably one of the most brilliant strokes of comparative film criticism, Rushdie goes on to compare The Wizard of Oz to the fare of India’s Bollywood industry.

… sex-goddesses in wet saris (the Indian equivalent of wet T-shirts), gods descending from the heavens to meddle in human affairs, supermen, magic potions, superheroes, demonic villains and so on have always been the staple diet of the Indian filmgoer. Blonde Glinda arriving at Munchkinland in her magic bubble might cause Dorothy to comment on the high speed and oddity of local transport operating in Oz, but to an Indian audience she was arriving exactly as a god should arrive: ex machina …

In Rushdie’s perspective, the movie does not so much as endorse its pious homily to the virtues of home and domesticity as point out its radical inaccessibility – Dorothy’s plight is that of the exile and far from returning home, Dorothy finds out the literal truth of her incantation: “there’s no place like home.”

… The Wizard of Oz is a film whose driving force is the inadequacy of adults, even of good adults, and how the weakness of grown-ups forces children to take control of their own destinies, and so, ironically, grow up themselves.

Even if you might find Rushdie’s endorsement of an iconoclastic deconstructive or post-colonial reading unsatisfying, he is never less than entertaining in his discussion of key scenes and characters from the film. His discussion is enlivened by colorful anecdotes about the actors, the musical choices, and more.

The BFI Film Classics series, incidentally, includes such film classics as The Blue Angel, On the Waterfront, The Seven Samurai, and more, discussed by such well known film critics/academics as Edward Buscombe (The Searchers), Laura Mulvey (Citizen Kane), Thomas Elsaesser (Metropolis), and Camille Paglia (The Birds).

Author:  djb [ Wed May 24, 2006 1:13 pm ]
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My introduction to H. Rider Haggard was the 1951 comic book adaptation of King Solomon’s Mines (Scroll down to the second row, stopping, of course, to admire the cover for She). I’m not sure how old I was when I read it, but I was young enough to think that the illustrations of grisly death and scantily-clad female slaves were very adult and daring.

Also check out the cover for Rocket to the Moon, just across the aisle from King Solomon’s Mines. This has to be one of the goofiest lunar scenes ever. I love 1950’s comic books! The illustrator was Wally Wood, who had a long career with Mad Magazine.

Right now I’m reading The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill by Mark Bittner, who was the subject of the film documentary of the same name. I read that the film is currently in international distribution. If you haven’t seen it, you should. It was one of the most enjoyable and inspirational movies I’ve seen. The book covers the same ground as the movie, but with much more information and a follow-up. I had recently started studying Spanish rather than reading while on the bus, subway or Lifecycle, but since I saw this book in a give-away box at work, I’ve temporarily gone back to reading.

The book's website:

The movie's website:

Author:  Andre Yew [ Wed May 24, 2006 10:00 pm ]
Post subject: 

Jeff wrote:
Thanks for your suggestions .. they are suggestions aren't they?

I suppose one could take them that way. :wink: But actually I just wanted to share my reading pile.

I vaguely know the author of the Suit (in the way one can know someone only through the Internet), and you've got to be careful about someone else trying to summarize your writing in a way they think will maximize sales of your book. The writing itself is actually pretty subtle and funny.

But your comments on packaging does bring up an interesting point. When you see a dance performance, before you've even seen a single dancer move, and often before you've even heard a single note of music, the set design, lighting (Hi Jeff S!), and costumes have already made their first impression on you. Can you imagine if Serenade hid all the dancers behind giant Victorian gowns, with no lights, and a disheveled stage?

Or imagine you had the world's most brilliant, insightful dance reviewer on your staff, but he has no writing skills. How does the rest of the world understand his ideas? Or a dancer who has the intuition to reach into the hearts of every audience member, but has no technique by which to effect his thoughts?

I don't think even the summary advocates that packaging is everything, and obviously a well-dressed oaf will still be an oaf. But certainly in many situations, what you wear will speak before and louder than you will. I think Mark Twain said it best: "Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society."


Author:  Jeff [ Thu May 25, 2006 12:51 am ]
Post subject: 

O I’m not criticizing the priority of packaging over substance. An oaf in a navy suit will (should) get the job offer before the genius in a wife beater with a 5 o’clock shadow.

There exist pictures of the original production of “Serenade” at Warburg’s estate – women in paneled leotards of different colors and shades, some in long hair, others in short, at least one girl in bobs. The pale white flowing tutus that are indelibly associated with “Serenade” came later.

I am having a hard time trying to imagine what the The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill is like. Is it a lay science book? Or is there a social angle -- is talking about parrots a way to talk about society except displaced in some way? Is there an ecological angle?

I am recalled to William Warner’s book about the Chesapeake Bay and its marine culture (fisheries, bio-habitat, etc), Beautiful Swimmers: Watermen, Crabs, and the Chesapeake Bay. It won a Pulitzer in 1977, I believe.

Taking the Chesapeake’s most well known marine denizen, the blue crab, and the life man has built (the Chesapeake fisheries industry) around it as its subject, Beautiful Swimmers is written in the tradition of the natural history essay, the travelogue, and the autobiography. Warner describes the life of both the crab (Callinectes sapidus) and the lifestyle of the watermen around whose lives and livelihood the crab is central.

As one who on childhood trips to the Bay had been one of the “chicken neckers” (i.e. used chicken necks as bait) so despised by commercial crabbers, Beautiful Swimmers explains much of the unseen oceanographic drama and underappreciated human toil that is part of the cultural seascape of the Chesapeake Bay.

Author:  djb [ Thu May 25, 2006 11:39 am ]
Post subject: 

Jeff wrote:
I am having a hard time trying to imagine what the The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill is like. Is it a lay science book? Or is there a social angle -- is talking about parrots a way to talk about society except displaced in some way? Is there an ecological angle?
None of the above. It's about the relationship of Mark Bittner, a resident of Telegraph Hill, with a flock of wild parrots, and how it changed his life. There is a lot of information about and film footage of the parrots (conures, in this case), which is fascinating, but I found Bittner's story equally fascinating, as well as inspirational. And to top it off, it takes place on Telegraph Hill, one of the most picturesque areas of San Francisco.

Author:  Jeff [ Wed Jun 07, 2006 1:04 am ]
Post subject: 

Hello, CD friends, maybe I'm certifiable or just need a vacation but I finished a book I can't resist mentioning: Drama, Play, and Game: English Festive Culture in the Medieval and Early Modern Period (U. Chicago, 2001) by medieval literature scholar, Lawrence Clopper.

Clopper begins with the disarmingly candid admission that as a university student reading the Brome Abraham and Isaac (14th century), he found it, well, dull. Why, then, he wondered, did it have a two hundred year performance history? In many ways, Clopper’s entire career has been an attempt to answer this question. Drama, Play, and Game reviews, restates, and revises the work of the generation of scholars who found the role of medieval drama as taught in traditional British literary history unsatisfactory – an entire generation of scholars since the mid 1960s who have worked to show that medieval drama is more than just prelude to Shakespeare. We are talking about such works as the morality plays, Everyman and Mankind, the great north English biblical cycles from York, Chester, etc, and the dramas of East Anglia, such as Mary Magdalene, The Play of the Sacrament, etc.

The traditional teaching is that drama died out with the fall of the Roman Empire but was reintroduced into western culture under the auspices of the Church. The liturgy grew to encompass elements recognizable as dramatic (role playing, gesture, symbolic use of space, etc) and spread from the interiors of the churches onto the front steps, then into the market places and onto pageant wagons that took biblical history into streets of cities like York and Chester in great festivals that performed Christian view of history from Genesis to Judgment day. During this process of growth, drama became not only larger and more sophisticated (the Castle of Perseverance requires a cast of dozens and a staging space that can accommodate at least 4 scaffolds) but more secularized so that the morality plays of the later medieval period went beyond biblical narratives to secular topics. In this history, the study of medieval drama enables a better understanding of Shakespeare – the persistence of dramatic medieval elements such as way Iago resembles the Vice figure from a morality play, etc.

Contemporary scholarship throws most of that teaching out. Not only did the chronology of the texts not always support this evolutionary model but it seems counter-intuitive. Is it likely that great dramatic tradition would grow, as the model suggests, through primarily ecclesiastical initiative? Careful study of the available historical records in addition to the play texts themselves shows that the primary sponsors of the biblical history dramas were primarily secular organizations like guilds and cities rather than the Church, and in some cases the drama cycles were arenas in which secular authorities contested religious ones. For example, in the chapter, Civitas: Drama and the City, lay vernacular drama, such as the passion plays and civic pageants of the north, grew not from clerical initiative but in contestation to ecclesiastical authorities attempts to suppress lay festive culture. In chapters like The Matter of These Plays, Clopper shows that by even the civic biblical dramas which their overtly religious content (i.e. plays recreating Mary and Joseph story, the Annunciation, etc) espoused a lay version of religious doctrine which could sometimes be at odds with official Church doctrine.

Perhaps the most interesting part of Clopper’s discussion is his reassessment of the anti-theatrical bias of the medieval Church, evidenced by such documents as the fifteenth century Tretise of Miraclis Pleying, which rails against the moral dangers of plays. How does the evolutionary model reconcile this anti-theatrical tradition with the toleration and even expansion of the vernacular drama during the same time period? Clopper suggests that the term for play, a scripted performance with roles, ludi (a Latin term) had the same kind of semantic range as the modern term, “play” – which in addition to a scripted performance could also mean play as in “to play a game” or “to have fun.” Through extensive readings of source material, Clopper suggests that when authorities moved to suppress “plays” associated with saints days, they meant festive culture – things like church ales, wrestling matches, sporting events which were part of a saint day celebration. Think of a church fish fry but with liquor and cock fights.

Why would I so perverse as to consider Drama, Play, and Game worth even mentioning here on CDf? Well, it is clearly written (not to be taken for granted in academic writing from English depts) though it does require at least a working knowledge of medieval English drama and a passing acquaintance with middle English. Also, it is potentially a landmark work of scholarship.

But, more to the point, Clopper’s critical questioning might suggest a series of questions that dance enthusiasts might find interesting. If you’ll permit me to invoke the field of Nutcracker studies, Jennifer Fisher has written about the texts and contexts of that perennial favorite (or curse), the Nutcracker ballet (in her book Nutcracker Nation -- my take on this can be found at If Nutcracker fulfills some kind of social function, what is it? Is it a unifying function (i.e. the ballet is a seasonal ritual that brings together diverse segments of the community) or an exclusionary one (i.e. Nutcracker celebrates the elitism of the community of ballet lovers)? Does the Nutcracker ballet institution have a larger agenda? Is it important that Nutcracker’s growth into a mainstay of most ballet companies budgets seemed to have begun with the New York City Ballet broadcasts at the height of the Cold War? I certainly have no answers but I am always ready to ask questions.

Now, I actually do fun reading (*honest!*). I just got H. Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines on Books-on-Tape and that's what I'm listening to on my daily commute.[/url]

Author:  Jeff [ Sun Jul 09, 2006 3:43 pm ]
Post subject: 

Here are some assorted choices (some a little offbeat perhaps) from the internet. I’m not endorsing any of these – just providing some variety ...

How about some choices from New York Metro:

The best summer reading: minimal brain cells required. By Boris Kachka.

Sparkle Life
By Kara Lindstrom
Three women, their lives split between New York and L.A., are ascending from pampered hipness to true adulthood—which here means the dubious rewards of Hollywood as well as that storied quest for the ideal husband. It’s high-IQ chick lit.

Anybody Out There?
By Marian Keyes
Keyes also breathes new life into chick lit—no small feat considering that this is her eighth in the pastel-colored genre. In the story of Anna Walsh, a New York PR princess whose breezy life is derailed by a gruesome accident, Keyes cuts down on the froth but leaves the fun and romance intact.

For more, click on


This from NPR:

Summer’s Most Magical Form of Transport. By Alan Cheuse.

(Cheuse meditates on the Odyssey then on China)

I've also been to China. Have you? I went to Mongolia in 1939 by turning the pages of Shan Sa's lyrical prize-winning first novel, The Girl Who Played Go. I've fought in our Civil War. I've trudged the muddy roads of medieval Europe with a troupe of raggedy actors. I've watched the Battle of Borodino from a safe vantage point and dodged musket rounds at the Battle of Waterloo …. Books took me there. Books take us anywhere and everywhere.

Among Cheuse's choices are The Foreign Correspondent by Alan Furst, Shan Sa’s Empress, Angela Davis-Gardner’s Plum Wine, and astrophysicist Joel Primack and his writer wife Nancy Abrams’ The View from the Center of the Universe.

For more, click on ... Id=5419729


For those for whom space and place are paramount, books with an architecture theme from SF Gate:

Pick up some light summer reading on cities, and you'll never see your surroundings the same again. By John King (SF Gate):

From time to time, I'm asked what's out there in the way of accessible architectural reading, so let me make a few modest suggestions. Nothing too heavy, no matter how good -- wait until September to open that copy of Rafael Moneo's "Theoretical Anxiety and Design Strategies in the Work of Eight Contemporary Architects" -- and they're all in paperback and in print. And each one will help you survey the built terrain with a bit more clarity.

King’s choices include Ada Louise Huxtable’s Will They Ever Finish Bruckner Boulevard?, Lewis Mumford’s collection of pieces from the New Yorker, Sidewalk Critic, and David Okrent’s history of the Rockefellers Great Fortune.

For more, click on ... E5D161.DTL


Or, if you believe that kids say the darndest things, courtesy Johns Hopkins, here are some summer reading recommendations from kids 9th to 12th grades (from Imagine Magazine (May/June 2002):

Jeremy, 11th grade: Searching For Bobby Fischer by Fred Waitzkin: A touching and probing look at the world of children’s chess championships, and ultimately the relationship between a father and son. A must, even for someone who wouldn’t know a pawn from a king; this book will make you love the characters, the game, and the author’s writing.

Elspeth, 9th grade: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard: Dillard takes you through a year in the natural habitat near her home, not only describing natural history and animals, but also questioning how we do things and what we think.

Patrick, 10th grade: The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien: An amazing piece of writing, this collection of short stories is a stirring and insightful testament of the Vietnam War.

As you might have guessed, these kids are in Hopkin’s Talented Youth program. For more, click on


What’s in my book bag right now is Anne McClintock’s Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Conquest (Routledge 1995) and Bollywood: A Guidebook to Popular Hindi Cinema (2004) by Tejaswini Ganti, from the Routledge Film Guidebooks Series.

Not sure I'm recommending Imperial Leather, which despite its title is not at all sexy though it does discuss fetishism, cross dressing, and so on with the Arthur Munby--Hannah Cullwick case. It's far more accessible than the Clopper book I mentioned before.

Imperial Leather is McClintock making the case that in Victorial culture, the deployment of power was not a binary but a triangular relationship between race, gender, and imperialism. Her argument encompasses a reevaluation of Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalytic conceptions of the fetish as well as a wide ranging examination of such aspects of the Victorian world as soap, the cult of domesticity, and novels such as Rider Haggard's King Soloman's Mines.

Author:  Jeff [ Wed Aug 09, 2006 1:02 am ]
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Hello, CD friends, there’s still a few weeks of summer left to throw a few paperbacks into the beach bag and treat yourself to some light summer reading

When I stopped by the local Borders a few weeks ago, they had books all over the store tagged as summer reading suggestions. Though now (8/8/06) many of the tags are gone now but I still found a few and jotted down the titles. I’m not endorsing any of these – just reporting…

Lauren Weisberger’s The Devil Wears Prada (Anchor). No, I haven’t seen the movie, but you gotta give the author some credit for dedicating the book “… to the only three people alive who believe it genuinely rivals War and Peace.” (her mother, father, and sister)

Ernest Hemingway – The Short Stories (Scribner Classics). Though it might surprise classmates who know I generally avoid American lit, I actually endorse the Hemingway short stories. They don’t all succeed but when they do, it’s sensational.

In Cold Blood (Vintage International) by Truman Capote. A family of four is brutally shotgunned to death. The book narrates the capture and conviction of the killers whose only motive was about 40 dollars cash.

Tao Te Ching Cards: Lao Tzu’s Classic Text in 81 Cards (box set, Marlowe). With translation by Chao-Hsiu Chen.

And for those who have to be Mr/Ms Know-It-Alls, Bicycling Science by David Gordon Wilson (MIT Press, no less). With a history of the bicycle and details about just about every facet of cycling technology – very impressive with equations, graphs, moment arms and so on.

Sometimes it seems as if the world is either in a pre-, para-, or post- blasted-to-smithereens condition. Finally, when football and soccer just don’t provide enough fodder for arm chair generals, there is Kursk: The German View by Steven H. Newton (Da Capo). This is about the great WWII tank battle with plenty of Operation Citadel, railway logistics, tank commander reports, etc – no doubt it’s the next step up from the History Channel for the devotee of military history.

And, of course, I can’t pass by this summer choice" The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White (Longman). Now this is my kind of summer reading. More commonly known as just “Strunk and White,” believe it or not, there is a kind of drama woven between the admonitions not to forget the commas around parenthetical comments, appositive, etc. For instance, Rule 5

Do not join independent clauses with a comma. If two or more clauses grammatically complete and not joined by a conjunction are to form a single compound sentence, the proper mark of punctuation is a semicolon.

This high point of the book is immediately followed by an emotional low as I realize that Strunk and White have left out the part about the conjunction that should follow the semicolon. Also, I think they’re far too lax on comma splices … but now I’m just sounding fussy …

What’s in my book bag now is American Film Musical Themes and Forms by Michael Dunne (McFarland). Not quite done with it, but I can say that Dunne bravely takes on not so much the Hollywood musical but whatever is left after Rick Altman, Jane Feuer, and Richard Dyer – sometimes I can almost see the effort spent talking around Altman and Feuer’s ideologically oriented formalist analyses but at least it’s not just another critic fetishing the “integrated musical.” If you're an admirer of Astaire, you'll be right at home.

Author:  djb [ Wed Aug 09, 2006 12:42 pm ]
Post subject: 

Jeff wrote:
Do not join independent clauses with a comma. If two or more clauses grammatically complete and not joined by a conjunction are to form a single compound sentence, the proper mark of punctuation is a semicolon.

This high point of the book is immediately followed by an emotional low as I realize that Strunk and White have left out the part about the conjunction that should follow the semicolon.

Cheer up! They didn't leave out that part; "that part" isn't correct. You use either a conjunction or a semicolon, not both.

My recent summer reading has consisted almost entirely of reading assignments for my Spanish class. The stories created for the Spanish student are now a thing of the past and we're reading excerpts and even complete short short stories by well-known authors. It's slow going, however, since there are so many words that are new to me, including lots of colloquialisms that I have to google since they aren't in my dictionary.

Speaking of dictionaries, is a great reference if you need to translate between English and French/Spanish/Italian. For one thing, you don't need to type diacritical marks in your search word; type in pais and wordreference will search for país. It will give you good examples of all meanings of a word, plus a list of phrases that use that word. It also has a link to a verb conjugation page, as well as a discussion forum. Here's what comes up if you search por.

But sometimes I just can't take any more Spanish, so I've been re-reading The Roads To Sata (1985) by Alan Booth. I may have mentioned this vastly entertaining book when this thread was new, but it's good enough to mention it again. Alan Booth was an ex-patriate Englishman living in Tokyo. This book is about his journey on foot from Cape Soya, the northernmost point of the northernmost island of Japan, to Cape Sata, the southernmost point of the southernmost of Japan's main islands. He travelled along the "back side" of Japan, the West Coast, which was less developed and less used to foreigners than the East Coast. His writing isn't as laugh-out-loud funny as Bill Bryson's, but it has plenty of very funny bits. I also learned quite a bit about daily life and customs in Japan from reading it.

Author:  Andre Yew [ Wed Aug 09, 2006 3:25 pm ]
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I've been reading Dean Takahashi's "Xbox 360 Uncloaked". It's about the development of the Xbox 360 game console. Interesting, though it's a bit repetitive, but that's not too surprising since it's compiled from blog entries and newspaper articles.


Author:  Jeff [ Thu Aug 10, 2006 12:44 am ]
Post subject: 

djb, I'm afraid the CD/BDm editorial staff will lynch me if I make too much trouble about the whole semicolon plus/minus conjunction-two independent clauses business.

However, upon grammatically non-volatile topics such as XBox, I am free to indulge my freedom of expression ... Thank you, Andre, for the pointer at Takahashi's take on the XBox 360. Despite my initial reaction ("who cares?"), I probably shoudn't dismiss Xbox's impact on society. Children and some child-like adults probably spend more time with Xbox than they do with their parents or siblings. We might pay attention about how and why we are manipulated by people who only view us as mindless and soulless sources of revenue ... Or, if they honestly believe they're making the world better, the whole thing could be seen as a comedy. Could dance company artistic directors learn something useful about what factors drive audiences to spend money? That would be useful, indeed.

For the Booth narrative on his trip across Japan, click on The Roads to Sato: A 2000 Mile Walk Through Japan.. For the Takahashi book, click on The Xbox 360 Uncloaked

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