Month: March 2010

R.I.P. Alex Chilton

Very sad to learn that musician Alex Chilton recently passed away.

I first knew his name as the producer of my punk rock favs the Cramps’ best record, and shortly had the pleasure of discovering Big Star as a moony college student. I remember hearing “Thirteen” for the first time, and being moved to tears. Still one of my all time favorite songs of all time. And, oh yeah, then I found out sang that “Letter” song (as a teenager) that my Mom loves.

It still surprises me when I meet rock n’ roll fans who don’t love, or don’t even know about Big Star. How is that even possible?! They shouldn’t be consigned to the one of most beloved “cult acts.” Commerical failure, doomed artist, inspired as many indie bands as VU blah blah blah. The music is right up there in terms of artistry and pop appeal with the Byrds, the Who and the Beatles. Do yourself a favor and get familiar, America!

Paul Westerberg, of Replacements fame, wrote a fitting eulogy, published in the Times.

I don’t there is better tribute than this, though:

Here are some of my favorite Box Tops / Big Star / Alex Chilton songs:


Sometimes, the line between the sublime and the grotesque has no breadth.

Dear readers, I give you Эдуард Хиль (Edward Anatolevich Hill):

Я очень рад, ведь я, наконец, возвращаюсь домой

If you wish to extricate some meaning, be my guest. I say, ignore the history, ignore the intent, just enjoy. I did!

In other news, “Sorry, I had to.”

[via and MeFi]

ixnay on the ucksnay

I love words. I regularly read popular etymology books (most recently The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or Two: The Hidden Lives and Strange Origins of Common and Not-So-Common Words, by the Anu Garg, founder of the erstwhile A.Word.A.Day web service). I pride myself on having a wide and peculiar vocabulary. I own the Compact OED and consult it faithfully.

Today, however, spellchecker pointed revealed a lexical gaffe I’ve been making for some time…

Snuck is not a proper word! says:

From the beginning, and still in standard British English, the past tense and past participle forms are sneaked. Just as mysteriously, in a little more than a century, a new past tense form, snuck, has crept and then rushed out of dialectal use in America, first into the areas of use that lexicographers label jocular or uneducated, and more recently, has reached the point where it is a virtual rival of sneaked in many parts of the English-speaking world. But not in Britain, where it is unmistakably taken to be a jocular or non-standard form.

Sneaked? Surely I snuck into my cottage the other night to review promised repairs. Have I been saying snuck all these years by mistake?

Yep. Sneak is first recorded in the works of Shakespeare, who uses it several times: “A poor, unminded outlaw, sneaking home” (Henry IV, part I); “Sneak not away, sir; for the friar and you must have a word” (Measure for Measure); and others.

The earliest examples for snuck appear only in written representations of American dialect or other nonstandard use. No one is clear why, as there are no other “eek” verbs with an “uck” past tense. Can you think of any? By mid-century last, snuck began to be more common in fiction representing uneducated speech; mostly for humorous effect, similar to the use of ain’t in media today. Apprently, in the past 50 years, snuck has been found more and more in neutral contexts; used as a standard past form without any suggestion of humor.

So, presently, snuck is widespread in the US, even among educated speakers, and in the speech of people my generation and younger it is norm. We are commonly unaware that sneaked exists, and many, like me, think that it sounds as wrong as many older speakers think snuck does.

Some resources say, that because useage should define grammar not archaic rules, snuck should be considered fully standard in American English. But I prefer to be fussy about such things. No more snuck.

Nous allons à Paris!

This summer we are headed to the city I’ve been dreaming of seeing for so long. All thanks to a most generous and lovely friend, we are staying in a chic little apartment in the 5th arrondissement of Paris. It’s an absolute miracle that this worked out! I am still in a bit of shock that we’ll actually have this trip. We had made plans to visit San Francisco and house sit for a friend of James’ which was thwarted due to scheduling conflicts I have at work. What a blessing it is to know that we will have a trip this year even though that didn’t work out! We are planning for a September trip, in celebration of our 1-year anniversary and a honeymoon of sorts.We are excitedly making plans and about to book flights. Anyone have recommendations for places to eat or visit?

[More of Tom Palumbo's photography here]