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The Vocabula Review

 

Steven G. Kellman

Steven G. Kellman
"Fun is fun," observed Anita Loos, "but no girl wants to laugh all the time." Some time between 1925, when Loos published that quip, in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and 1983, when Cyndi Lauper laughed all the way to the bank singing "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," human nature changed. Though life once seemed a vale of tears, it had become a barrel of fun. Today only a sourpuss insists that the best use for barrels is to accommodate pickles.


Michael J. Sheehan

Michael J. Sheehan
Danish physicist Niels Bohr defined an expert as "Someone who has made all the mistakes that can be made, but in a very narrow field." In an age where word inflation makes it mandatory to use the term expert on every resumé, no matter how humble the position being sought (consider hamburgerologist), the word has lost its usefulness.


John Kilgore

John Kilgore
English teachers do strange things, and lately, pestered by some kind of academic bug, I have gathered all the videos of Hamlet I can find and sat down to compare their versions of the famous “closet scene” at III, iv. It has been a depressing exercise. You remember the scene: Hamlet confronts his mother, more or less inadvertently slays Polonius, resumes confronting his mother, is briefly interrupted by his father’s ghost, confronts his mother a little bit more, and finally leaves, dragging the corpse of Polonius with him. It seems that modern directors have reached a consensus about how this scene ought to be played: in bed, mainly, and with so much touching, clutching, and kissing that a naïve observer might well think the dramatic issue was Hamlet’s attempt to get to second base with a slightly older girlfriend.


Kerr Houston

Kerr Houston
In 1989, annoyed by an all-too-familiar phrasing in an article on the decline of the traditional American family, Fortune writer Daniel Seligman typed in a computer search on "Ozzie and Harriet." In a matter of seconds, he had a list of eighty stories — all written within the last six months, and nearly all analyses of the nuclear family — which had employed the term. Seligman had trapped his cliché.



The November issue of The Vocabula Review is due online November 23.


 

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