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"Shed these lung spires and breathe."

We who revel in nature's diversity and feel instructed by every animal tend to brand Homo sapiens as the greatest catastrophe since the Cretaceous extinction. ~ Stephen Jay Gould

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I don't trust new houses.

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This morning I dreamt Kathryn and I were standing on the shore of one of the Great Lakes. I don't know which one. Foamy white waves were surging all around our feet, and I was telling her how those lakes were the remnants of an ancient sea. I was telling her they were exceptionally salty, the Great Lakes. A turkey fluttered past, settling on the beach not far away. It looked as if it had been molded from green milk glass, that precise color and opacity. There was also something oddly dragonfly-like about the bird, though I can't now say what. The sky was brilliant with noctilucent clouds, though it was the middle of the day. Earlier, I'd dreamt of finding the skull of a mosasaur*, but most of that dream has faded away.

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Yesterday, I wrote 1,432 words, which got me halfway through the thirteenth and final installment of Alabaster: Boxcar Tales. Only four pages to go, and I'll be glad to put this one behind me. Well, I'm always glad to put them – the novels, short stories, etc. – behind me, but sometimes I'm extra glad. I also had to proof the art for #9 and then send my editor at Dark Horse my notes. Oh, and script notes for #10. And there was some weirdness involving tax forms for foreign editions, blah, blah, blah, but Spooky and Writers House kindly dealt with that.

The weather here was so-so yesterday. A little worse than so-so today. I was spoiled by Tuesday. Presently 72˚F and cloudy here in Providence. More eighties, please.

Last night, Spooky and I finished watching Hemlock Grove. Lots of fun and surprisingly well done. The acting has odd moments of unevenness, but that hardly distracts. All in all, the performances and writing are very good. Famke Jensen is especially delightful as the villainous matriarch. Some of the best werewolf transformation SFX ever. So, yes. Hemlock Grove. Angela Carter does Dark Shadows. I know I've invoked the name of Angela Carter twice in as many days, but she is, after all, one of my patron wantons. Also, we're watching Season Seven of Dexter. I've cut way, way back on gaming. It's all become horribly boring again. Even for a recluse, there must be be more to life than this (to quote Freddy Mercury).

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An odd thing. I was complaining to Spooky about baffling online slang, and that led to a general discussion of slang as a phenomenon associated more with subcultures than with linguistic evolution, and to a discussion of slang that attended various times and scenes and geographical regions (the Jazz Age, hippies in the sixties, Cockney rhyming slang, surfer slang, etc.), and that led to a rather peculiar realization: As a child and teenager, I used very little – virtually none – of the slang that would be associated with the seventies and early eighties. Almost none. I began trying to list words. I came up with "cool" and "man" (before the ubiquitous "dude") and one two more. I used a tiny bit of older slang I got from my mother – "neat," for example. Hell, "cool" and "man" weren't truly of my generation. It's all became very confusing. Sure, I used Southern Appalachian/Alabama euphemisms and dialect, but there was very little that followed from pop culture/subcultures. I'm still racking my brain over this. I didn't even truly discover profanity – another facet of slang – until I was in my mid teens (which might seem odd, what with me now being such a connoisseur of dirty words and all).

But, this was long before the internet. I posit that the internet has forever changed the evolution, propagation, and longevity of slang. It's an interesting problem. One at which I'm sure a million graduate students with a million typewriters...well, computers...are banging away.

But...I have a script to finish. I have red velvet theatre curtains to close.

Uncool,
Aunt Beast

* I have some variant of this dream at least once every two weeks.

Comments

( 16 comments — Have your say! )
readingthedark
May. 23rd, 2013 05:09 pm (UTC)
Linguists tend to think that we use the words that are most effective in communicating to the people we care about most. So teenagers--detaching from their parents and bonding with each other/finding themselves, even if only temporarily--will always try to conjure new codes. But I think that being enough of an outsider from teenage culture would make one less engaged in that phenomenon. For me, goth culture and drug culture (or counterculture) led to my embracing a lot of slang and I bet I tried to "seem cool" in high school, but I'm well-aware that I failed mightily. I guess we used to sit around and all do Billy Burroughs impressions in college too, now that I think about it. That almost counts.

But there has been a flattening of slang due to the rise of the Internet (which I have been capitalizing again lately, like Big Brother). Now, the latest prefab pop confection can have her personal assistant tweet something that makes no sense and teenagers around the world will use it for a week or two to see if it's "cool" or whatever. But the net result seems to be so much less meaningful communication that my prediction would be that American vocabularies are shrinking...

Yet again, I think of Peter Lamborn Wilson telling me, early on, that the "Internet is infinitely wide but only a micron deep"...

I didn't believe him at all. My loss.
greygirlbeast
May. 23rd, 2013 05:13 pm (UTC)

All in all, a hearty "yes."

But I think that being enough of an outsider from teenage culture would make one less engaged in that phenomenon.

Actually, I don't thing there was that much current slang in the two high schools I attended. At least, it wasn't widespread.
setsuled
May. 23rd, 2013 05:13 pm (UTC)
I've cut way, way back on gaming. It's all become horribly boring again.

I haven't even been able to play The Secret World for two days. I log in, I pick my character, then it invariably crashes at the end of the loading screen. I may try reinstalling when I have time.

I came up with "cool" and "man" (before the ubiquitous "dude") and one two more.

Sometimes I wonder when "cool" stopped meaning Miles Davis and Marlene Dietrich and started being able to mean things like new flavours of Skittles and explosions.
greygirlbeast
May. 23rd, 2013 05:16 pm (UTC)

I haven't even been able to play The Secret World for two days. I log in, I pick my character, then it invariably crashes at the end of the loading screen. I may try reinstalling when I have time.

There's no telling. As others have said, The Secret World is one of the smartest, best-written, ugliest, most poorly coded, and broken-ass games in history. Anything could be wrong.

Sometimes I wonder when "cool" stopped meaning Miles Davis and Marlene Dietrich and started being able to mean things like new flavours of Skittles and explosions.

I'm guessing the 1960s....
whiskeychick
May. 23rd, 2013 05:35 pm (UTC)
I often say I speak many languages. They are all, grant you, variants of American English. I clearly recognize that I speak one way to different groups I am aligned with or different groups of "society" for which I must deal.

The biggest "failure" of my language is how I pick up phrases to mean "Yes, I agree with you." For instance: absolutely; I know, right?; or the simplified - right?; totally (remember that from the 80s?); Outstanding!; etc. etc. etc. ad nauseum.

There is, of course, the entire language of the military, too; for which I am a fluent speaker. That, without a doubt, is a foreign language. So maybe doesn't qualify as slang.

I've become a self-imposed shut-in recently as I wrestle a huge bout of depression brought on by whatever the fuck depression is brought on by (as it's such a big fat fuckity fuck liar and is the house guest from hell). Therefore, I'm gaming more. The boredom is there; but, I'm finding it somewhat soothing.
greygirlbeast
May. 23rd, 2013 05:38 pm (UTC)

There is, of course, the entire language of the military, too; for which I am a fluent speaker. That, without a doubt, is a foreign language. So maybe doesn't qualify as slang.

No, it definitely qualifies as slang, being a conscious creation demarcating a subculture.

Therefore, I'm gaming more. The boredom is there; but, I'm finding it somewhat soothing.

It's a siren, and sirens are deadly.
readingthedark
May. 23rd, 2013 05:49 pm (UTC)
The introduction to Thomas Pynchon's short story collection talks about his early stories and how he improved as a writer when he realized that capturing military slang required more than just writing military characters as angry Southern rednecks regardless of where in the country they came from.

I also think of a friend who wrote for the military and was told, in no uncertain terms, that the correct verb for a technical manual was "to connectorize" and that it was inappropriate for him to try to use "to connect" instead.
greygirlbeast
May. 23rd, 2013 05:58 pm (UTC)

I also think of a friend who wrote for the military and was told, in no uncertain terms, that the correct verb for a technical manual was "to connectorize" and that it was inappropriate for him to try to use "to connect" instead.

Okay, I'm going to laughing about that all day long. I would argue that's not slang, but bullshit tech jingoism.
readingthedark
May. 23rd, 2013 06:13 pm (UTC)
Definitely bullshit tech jingoism. If the laughter wears off, just picture a deployed grunt trying to find a dictionary with "connectorize" in it.
greygirlbeast
May. 23rd, 2013 07:15 pm (UTC)

I suppose, maybe, jargon counts as a weird subset of slang.
whiskeychick
May. 23rd, 2013 05:36 pm (UTC)
oh and your description of the Great Lake of your dream sounds like Lake Superior.
greygirlbeast
May. 23rd, 2013 05:44 pm (UTC)

oh and your description of the Great Lake of your dream sounds like Lake Superior.

Though I've only ever seen Lake Michigan, and even it I haven't seen up close.
everville340
May. 23rd, 2013 07:33 pm (UTC)
Not sure if it would fall under slang but a manager at work coined the term "moron-athon", and for some reason ever since reciting it in my head helps me to interact in the world.
greygirlbeast
May. 23rd, 2013 08:11 pm (UTC)

Not sure if it would fall under slang but a manager at work coined the term "moron-athon"

Technically, that's a portmanteau, which, in this case (and most others) qualifies as slang.
vipermitch
May. 23rd, 2013 11:12 pm (UTC)
I wasn't familiar with Famke Jenson until I watched Hemlock Grove. I wasn't going to bother with the Hansel and Gretel until I found out the Jenson was in it. The jury is still out on that movie but I loved Jensen's role as the Main Witch Bitch.

I have not checked out House of Cards, though after seeing Hemlock Grove I'll probably give it a shot.

juushika
May. 24th, 2013 04:09 am (UTC)
I had a similar response to Hemlock Grove, give or take some details (the way some aspects of the plot came together—or failed to—rang hollow for me), but it has an atmosphere and aesthetic that I found utterly enjoyable—Carter and Dark Shadows is a pretty apt comparison. And yes, that werewolf transformation: astounding. It's a lush and stylistic little miniseries, and it's nice to see someone else talking about it.
( 16 comments — Have your say! )