Today's Hits: the dictionary gets unfriendly. palin's rogue facts. from here to eternity too gay? a graphic demise for coffee table publisher. and more.
- The Unfriendliest Year: The New Oxford American Dictionary has selected its Word of the Year — which seems a little unfair, as a truly awe-inspiring new word still has about a month and a half to seize the public's imagination in 2009.
Anyway, the word they chose might be hard to top: "unfriend."
"Unfriend" beat out a tech-heavy field that included "netbook," "hashtag" and "sexting" to take the annual honor.
"It has both currency and potential longevity," said Christine Lindberg, a language researcher for Oxford's U.S. dictionary program. "In the online social networking context, its meaning is understood, so its adoption as a modern verb form makes this an interesting choice for Word of the Year."
Oxford defines "unfriend," a verb, thusly: "To remove someone as a 'friend' on a social networking site such as Facebook."
Personally, now that Oxford has embraced it, I'd like to see "unfriend" spread beyond the internet and its social networking sites into the real world. I can just imagine exchanges similar to this one:
Person 1: Are you ever gonna pick up a check? Why do I always reach for the bill first?
Person 2: You're such a whiner. Know what? I'm unfriending you.
Person 1: You can't unfriend me! I unfriend you first!
Person 2: I already untagged you from all my photo albums.
Person 1: Who cares? I'm retweeting this to everyone in the restaurant!
Person 2: (gives thumbs up) I 'like' that!
(Click here to buy the The New Oxford American Dictionary 2nd Edition)
- Rogue Facts: The Associated Press has done some fact-checking on Sarah Palin's just-published memoir, Going Rogue, and finds she got a little mavericky with the truth. For example:
PALIN: Says she made frugality a point when traveling on state business as Alaska governor, asking "only" for reasonably priced rooms and not "often" going for the "high-end, robe-and-slippers" hotels.
THE FACTS: Although travel records indicate she usually opted for less-pricey hotels while governor, Palin and daughter Bristol stayed five days and four nights at the $707.29-per-night Essex House luxury hotel (robes and slippers come standard) overlooking New York City's Central Park for a five-hour women's leadership conference in October 2007. With air fare, the cost to Alaska was well over $3,000. Event organizers said Palin asked if she could bring her daughter. The governor billed her state more than $20,000 for her children's travel, including to events where they had not been invited, and in some cases later amended expense reports to specify that they had been on official business.
Well, that's fine — everybody fudges a bit about expenses and what-not. (We're fairly certain she slipped away with a robe or two, as well.) Luckily, Palin doesn't embellish much when it comes to those important conservative matters like not taking money from the government. Oh, uh, wait a sec...
PALIN: Describing her resistance to federal stimulus money, Palin describes Alaska as a practical, libertarian haven of independent Americans who don't want "help" from government busybodies.
THE FACTS: Alaska is also one of the states most dependent on federal subsidies, receiving much more assistance from Washington than it pays in federal taxes. A study for the nonpartisan Tax Foundation found that in 2005, the state received $1.84 for every dollar it sent to Washington.
On the plus side, this is hardly the most embarrassing news Palin has to contend with this week.
(Click here to buy Going Rogue)
- Don't Ask, Don't Read: Kaylie Jones writes about how her father, James Jones, had to trim a few F-words to publish his classic novel From Here to Eternity. Far more noteworthy, he had to completely excise all homosexuality from the manuscript.
My father wanted to write an honest and truthful book about the peace-time Army preceding WWII, and he insisted that could not be done if the language and routines of the soldiers were eliminated from the book. The soldiers in Hawaii were dead broke, barely one step up from homeless. They joined the Army during the Great Depression because they had nowhere else to go. And they were treated almost as badly as the homeless by the civilians that populated Oahu. They spent their meager Army salaries on leave days paying for whores and booze and on gambling — a way to pass the time.
One character, Maggio makes extra bucks by hanging out with older, rich gay men who live in Honolulu, who pay good money for his company. The original manuscript goes into great detail about what kind of sexual favors soldiers like Maggio are willing to provide. The soldiers act as if it's simply their company that these older men are paying for, but there's an underlying, secret understanding that many of them will provide sex.
Maggio, you may recall, is the part played by Frank Sinatra in the 1953 film version. Just imagine: if the book had been published unedited, there might have been a very different couple rolling in the surf during the famous "kissing on the beach" scene:
- The Taste of Sorrow: Sad news for local book lovers, as Graphic Arts, the Portland-based coffee table publisher whose books include Oregon: The Taste of Wine by Janis Miglavs, has filed for bankruptcy.
Because it's Portland, and it's news about books, you can expect a quote from our own fearless leader:
"They're having a hard time like everyone else," said Michael Powell, owner of Powells Books, who sat on Graphic Arts' board until early this year. "They did every cost cutting thing they could do."
Powell blamed its demise on declining book sales, the difficult economy and fewer independent bookstores, which was "the bread and butter for them."
I think we're overlooking the obvious: a sudden shortage of coffee tables.
(Click here to buy Oregon: The Taste of Wine — while you still can)
Book News Round-up:
- Poker lover extraordinaire James McManus — whose new book, Cowboys Full: The Story of Poker, just came out — offers five great books for poker players.
- Check out the house that Twilight bought. For $1 million, I'd want a whole lot less desert.
- Oh, those lingering antitrust concerns about the revised Google Books settlement. Whatever happened to the good ol' corporate handshake-and-backstab?
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Brockman is the head writer for the daily Book News posts on the Powells.com blog. In his free time he's hard at work on his fictional memoir, which changes titles daily.
The views and commentary posted by Brockman are entirely his own, and are not representative of the whole of Powell's Books, its employees, or any sane human being.
Books mentioned in this post