Thai or pizza?

September 25, 2008

Just read this in a New York Times article about the Bailout Plan stalling:

“After the address, the drafting effort continued through the night on both sides of Capitol Hill — with pizza on the House side, and Thai food in the Senate. (Negotiations between the House and the Senate can be nearly as complicated as negotiations between Democrats and Republicans.)”


No comment.


(Pump Up the) Volume

September 22, 2008

When I turn the volume on my MacBook up or down,  I see an icon appear in a small box on my screen. It seems to be a speaker with three closing parentheses side by side to the right of it, increasing in size. The parentheses come out of the speaker, as if spreading out the sound. 

“Um, uh, hello, Internet”

September 13, 2008

Here is an ad for ooVoo, an online video chat application.

It’s called “Emoticon Suicide.” It features three emoticons–Elaine, Hans, and Don–doing a three-way video chat. 

Emoticon Hans, in the middle, laments having tried to “represent” us when we “needed” them. “There was even a time when you seemed to like us. When things were simpler, and we were just open parentheses and semicolons. Now, you all use video chat devices like this one. It’s just another nail in our coffin.” While Hans says this stuff, Elaine, in a chat box to his left, sobs uncontrollably, an emoticon in a puddle of her tears. Meanwhile Don tries holding back his anger. 

They each proceed to commit suicide, one by one, in varying styles that reflect their emoticon-state. 

Hans talks about “open parentheses” with nostalgia, recalling a simpler day, before humans could represent their own faces in communicating with each other, a feature of ooVoo that the application’s designers wish to advertise here. Parentheses-generated emoticons are dead with this new technology, standing in for a past phase in an evolution of communication technologies.

(No rating, 1:50, in French)

September 7, 2008

If you search databases of New York Times articles for the word “parentheses,” a bunch of the hits you’ll retrieve are movie listings, because they open the listings with the sentence, “Ratings and running times are in parentheses; foreign films have English subtitles. Full reviews of all current releases, movie trailers, showtimes and tickets:”

For example, this week, a New Yorker might go check out ‘A GIRL CUT IN TWO’ (No rating, 1:50, in French). It could be interesting to compile some sort of list of these parentheses and isolate what’s inside them. And then to study something like whether or not certain ratings correspond with certain running lengths.


September 2, 2008

One seed of an idea I’m thinking about is what a parenthetical archive might be. 

Parentheses often contain and store information. In what ways does a parenthetical perform an archive-function, especially in relation to media studies and academic scholarship more generally? In academic writing, when we introduce a film into a discussion, we follow it with parentheses listing its director, country of origin, and year of production. I usually acquire this information from IMDb, along with names of actors, which are also written in parentheses following a character’s name. 

Could IMDb be considered a parenthetical archive, a website gleaned to fill in empty parentheses?