Monday, April 18, 2011


At Slate, Paul Collins considers the etymology of the term "shit-faced." (Via John Staines.)

Paul must not have had a copy of Jonathon Green's Dictionary of Slang to hand. If he had, he would have surely quoted an early entry for the first sense of "stupid, ignorant" (a letter by Hemingway: "Some shitfaced critic writes Mr Hemingway retires to his comfortable library to write about despair"), and also the classic instance of the second sense ("very drunk") as it appears in the movie Heathers: "Okay, just as long as it's not one of those nights when they get shit-faced and take us to a pasture to tip cows."

I will write a longer post at some point (possibly even later this week) about The Florestine Collection. One of the most moving things was learning that the beautiful little cinema in Columbia, South Carolina called the Nickelodeon, whose proprietors have been hugely supportive regarding Helen's films, has raised significant funds towards expansion and is going to name the new media education center after Helen. This is definitely a cause I'll be doing some fund-raising for; I'll perhaps post something here once I have more details.

Have only really been consuming the most undemanding of light reading, given travel etc.: Henning Mankell, The Troubled Man (highly worthwhile, and possibly even my favorite installment in the entire series); Michael Connelly, The Fifth Witness (reliably enjoyable, only a bit dull in parts due to high levels of courtroom content and also the central "clue" unduly jumps off the page, I didn't work out the twist but I was well aware that it must incorporate this detail, which I think is a slight technical failure on Connelly's part).

Before I was traveling (too busy last week to update, or else I have already listed these and subsequently forgotten?): Holly Black, Red Glove (enjoyed very much); Graham Joyce, The Silent Land (unsettling, good in many ways, not perhaps so much my cup of tea - too much Sartrean afterlife as a teenage reader, no strong preference for this sort of Jonathan Carroll-style vision of afterlife!); Sophie Hannah's Little Face (implausible and with a needlessly complex timeline but more or less readable); Kate Atkinson's Started Early, Took My Dog (loved it - I will read anything she writes, the texture paragraph by paragraph is just so good!).

1 comment:

  1. Speaking of "shite-" forms, there's shitepoke (Am. green heron) and its Scottish predecessor term shiterow. Both also used as generic insults. Etym. not super-clear but might have something to do with a belief that herons would crap if flushed.

    Scots "shog" ("to shake from corpulence") occurs in a Rabelaisian Dunbar passage about a giant:

    "He gat my grauntschir Gog Magog,
    Ay quhen he dansit, the warld wald schog,
    Five thousand ells yeid in his frog
    Of Hieland pladdis, and mair."