Saturday, December 27, 2008
More of the good stuff
Every now and then a piece of good writing tickles my fancy, as the Brits say. Here are some bright passages gleaned from the last few days surfing the Net.
Sometimes it's just a clever invented word, a neologism:
"Will it be a genuine hit or will the recipient, oohing and aaahing with suspiciously loud enthusiasm, really be feigning the ecstasy of giftgasm?"
-- Joyce Wadler, New York Times, Dec. 25, 2008, in a story about re-gifting
A familiar image often makes a good comment:
"Blagojevich exuded confidence Friday, but it was the scary, look-I-can-fly confidence of a man leaping off a roof with a towel safety-pinned around his neck as a cape. Sometimes a man needs a little self-doubt."
-- Neil Steinberg, Chicago Sun-Times, Dec. 22, 2008, after Rod Blagojevich's press conference proclaiming his innocence
I particularly liked this clever verbification of a common noun:
"Ted Stevens of Alaska was caught trousering gifts from contractors. David Vitter and Larry Craig were caught with their trousers down . . ."
-- Lexington, The Economist, Dec. 20, 2008-Jan. 2, 2009
"A baby is born old -- not just old but downright senescent -- and youthens as he grows."
-- Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 25, 2008, in his review of "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Here is a master at work building a thought, winding up with a final stroke of the hammer:
"But slipping into St. Patrick's for Mass in Spanish is pretty wonderful. It's like a big family reunion at which I know nobody and so nobody is mad at me. Nothing said in Spanish offends me doctrinally or any other way. I squeeze into the crowd, under the placid stone faces of saints, the sweet smell of burning wax and a hundred varieties of cologne, and feel the religious fervor, and tears come to my eyes, and I light a candle, say a wordless prayer, and out into the cold I go.
"It brought back memories of Christmas Eve in Copenhagen 20 years ago and how beautiful the sermons were before I started learning Danish."
-- Garrison Keillor, Salon.com, Dec. 24, 2008, on Christmas in languages he doesn't know
Old-fashioned invective can grip:
"But if we must have an officiating priest, let it be some dignified old hypocrite with no factional allegiance and not a tree-shaking huckster and publicity seeker who believes that millions of his fellow citizens are hellbound because they do not meet his own low and vulgar standards."
-- Christopher Hitchens, Slate, Dec. 22, 2008, on Rick Warren giving the invocation at Obama's inaugural.
Subverting a cliche works, too:
"To call the characters cardboard is to insult a useful packing material."
-- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times, Dec. 23, 2008, on "The Spirit"
Hey, if you come across a nice piece of writing in your Internet travels, send 'em on to me. We all need a regular infusion of the Good Stuff.