Monthly Archives: May 2016

Why We Care about Captain America

I suppose it’s possible that everyone suddenly cares about Captain America. I saw it happen once before, in 2007, when Ed Brubaker killed him. It was a madhouse in the comic store that day. Mostly it was a madhouse because people wanted to buy multiple copies, but there was one man who dashed in, his body twitching with […]

Relevant Again

Someday this meme will successfully make me famous.

The Partridge Family Prophecy

From from the third-century Roman text of Aelian’s Historia Animalorum (A.F. Scholfield translation): Partridges while still in the egg and confined by the shell that has formed around them do not wait for their parents to hatch them out, but alone and unaided, like house-breakers, peck through the eggs, peep out, and then lever themselves up, […]

Cock Robin

Before they killed the gay character, and before they killed the black character, authors killed children. In the nineteenth century, childhood as a concept was relatively new, and the first thing that happens when art recognizes your demographic is that it kills you off to generate some pathos. I can’t really give examples without spoilers, […]

The Clickbait in Our Language

I. I asked my friends a little while ago collect racist Trump quotes. I got a lot of links, and of course they were all pretty horrible because saying horrible things is, along with going bankrupt and landing on his feet, Trump’s metier. But although Trump is clearly xenophobic and anti-Muslim, it’s hard to catch […]

Get Your Red Hots Here!

I recently read a book about street cries, that is to say the old (fifteenth through nineteenth century) cries of London tradesman and merchants. A lot of the book (it’s this one, Andrew White Tuer’s London Cries, later reprinted as Old London Street Cries and the Cries of Today, with Heaps of Quaint Cuts) was […]

Who is IH?


Unintentional Old-Timey Filth

  1. The terrified wretch, falling on his knees, vocifierated, “My cock, —my cock,—my cock! oh! I am undone!” Charles Robert Maturin, Melmoth the Wanderer (1820)   2. I am a virgin, and I have promised to remain so, always. Daily intercourse with a man would in no way be convenient. William Beckford, The Episodes […]

Perscripshun and Descripshun Part 3 of 3

(Continued from here.) Prescription is in general a farce. Classic prescriptive rules such as “never end a sentence with a preposition” or “never split an infinitive” were notoriously just made up one day by Latinists who wanted to apply Latin rules to English. All language rules, even the ones you’ve internalized so they don’t feel […]

Prescription and Description Part 2 of 3

(Continued from here.) Language in an anarchic system that works, perhaps the only example we have of such a thing in this fallen world. Like one of Pynchon’s “anarchist miracles” it works, and has always worked, spontaneously, by common consent. Before there was such a thing as a grammarian or, for, most people, a grammar school, […]