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February 27, 2006

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The thing on there that surprises me the most is the Sound of Music, not the biker bar gig.

If you had nine days in Turkey, where besides Istanbul would you go? Assume you want a lazy-ish vacation as trips to Turkey go.

"Is 24 highly regarded?"

Not by me. Popcorn stuff of medium or lower quality. I am watching this year so far, but have stopped in the middle of seasons and skipped entire seasons without regret.

But then 24 is the only fiction television I am currently watching. Other than movies. If I am a snob, I am a different kind, because last night I watched Predator again. For the 1137th time. I feel about Predator the way you apparently do about Schindlers' List, which I have only seen once.

Katherine: I can't really answer that, since I didn't do many of the lazy bits. (I tried the first time I went there, but got food poisoning, and ended up heading for Istanbul to recover.) I'd say the Aegean coast is probably a good bet, and Istanbul is great in a chaotic, Dickens'-London-only-Muslim way. Doğubayazit is lovely, but very far away from most places you'd be likely to be. Very little worth seeing in Ankara, though there is an alarming set of enormous desperate grasping hands sticking out of the ground, a monument to something -- though it always reminded me of Carrie.

Predator: well I remember it! A movie I watched with xanax, who memorably said, when the monster first appeared: Oh my God, it's the Saran wrap from hell!

Hilzoy: I never saw Friends

Lucky you. I truly wish I could say I'd never seen "Friends". Or "Charmed".

The wife and I are finding "Lost" surprisingly engaging on DVD (shows with any redeeming qualities generally become better when stripped of commercials), though we agree that it runs a substantial risk of going nowhere, a la "The X-Files". And we are just devouring Battlestar Galactica, also via NetFlix (no cable). Maybe not as good as everyone makes it out -- it has had a few cringeworthy moments, the writers are really terrible at humor, the octagonal paper thing drives me up the wall, and there is far, far too little Viper action -- but still far and away the best sci-fi/fantasy show I've encountered in some time.

But no, really, "Friends" is just terrible television.

TV is the easiest question, because there are only four shows I watch (one is actually over): Daily Show, Colbert Report, Arrested Development, Lost.

When Bill Moyers was at the helm, "Now" was my weekly must-watch, even above "Frontline". But since Bill left and it was cut down to a half hour, despite my great affection for David Brancaccio going back to his "Marketplace" days, it just isn't the same. Also, the quality of the reporting can be a bit shaky at times. If not for Tivo, I'd probably never see it these days.

Oh, and American Dad just might be "Futurama" to Family Guy's "The Simpsons".

"The thing on there that surprises me the most is the Sound of Music, not the biker bar gig."

Well, after all, Ronald Reagan once famously explained to James Baker that he'd not read a briefing book the night before the 1983 G7 meeting because:

On returning the next morning, Baker was furious to discover that the book lay exactly where he had left it - and confronted his boss with his failure to do his prep. Reagan's unflustered reply: "Well, Jim, 'The Sound of Music' was on last night."
Naturally, Hilzoy is just emulating her idol, Ronald Reagan.

"Other than movies. If I am a snob, I am a different kind, because last night I watched Predator again. For the 1137th time. I feel about Predator the way you apparently do about Schindlers' List, which I have only seen once."

I believe it may be the only action movie ever made that stars/features two future United States Governors. As yet. Commenters are welcome to nominate future Governors who may star in Predator VII. (Past governors can always do cameos; who doesn't want to see William Weld do a diving stunt? And the crowd roars....)

I recommend Veronica Mars, and the Shield. Killer writing on both great acting on the Shield.

The 1137th time? You have almost reached (THX) 1138.

Gary Farber: Commenters are welcome to nominate future Governors who may star in Predator VII.

Better to go for a hat trick. What state does Carl Weathers live in these days?

hil: "4 bloggers I’m tagging:"

hmmmm... not Fafblog?
(I'm/aren't you dying to know 4 jobs Faf has had and his top 4 movies)...? <- (for the punctuation-challenged).

Predator. Now that was a funny one...especially when the beast emerged from his groovy translucence only to be revealed as Bob Marley's twisted cousin.

hil: was it the drugs/scotch etc., or do I remember correctly you me and Hasaan actually trying to invent a combination backgammon/chess/scrabble game?

I personally liked living in Mexico - in a beach-hut we built (and affectionately dubbed "Scorpion Knoll") on Coyote Bay, Bahia Concepcion, Baja California Sur. 6 months of spear fishing and guitar playing and vice versa. Cinema? I could prettty much watch "Cool Hand Luke" and "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid" on an endless-loop tape and be happy as a duck. Recently "Contact" has quite captured my imagination.

TV? Nah...not so much really... though the kids have made me memorize all the characters on Dragon Tales which I've come to like... Especially Senor Somebody-or-Other, the big Orange Mexican-accented dragon (OK, now why can I remember his name??? --- Sheesh, Clara would kill me!)

xanax: I don't recall it, but it would have been in character, and as you say, it could have been (in my case) the scotch.

I hope we did.

Schindler's List, Friends and Predators. Wow.

I, too, love Schindler's List, so I thought it was a good challenge to me (and I hope to others) to read this essay about the problematic aspects of the film. Lest one thinks that the author Huttenbach is one of those who feels that the Holocaust allows no tales of heroism, his recommendation of this book about Jan Karski belies that. At any rate, the whole site has a lot of interesting essays. I'm awaiting to see what is said about the Irving conviction.

Friends. I'd argue that the early seasons of Friends were quite amazing, in that they created a cast of characters and utilized the strictures of the 30 minute weekly sitcom to its fullest. In fact, with commercials, it is 23 minutes, and if you watch the show (as it is shown here) without commercials, you realize how cleverly fabricated it is. It did jump the shark, but having Elliot Gould as Ross's father was a stroke of genius. A parallel question is how one judges a weekly show. The first seasons of the Simpsons (especially when Groenig was drawing everything) were a revelation, but the latter seasons were certainly not on the same level.

There was an interesting aside at Crooked Timber that became a thread about the transferability of various TV genres, and this article is an interesting take of the development of the sitcom, up to pre Friends, from an Australian point of view. It notes:

Thus, the second thing British and American sitcoms have in common, is that the characters are like corks bobbing on the sea. They rise and fall with the waves but always come back roughly to where they began. The first part of a typical sitcom episode is the rise where the characters’ expectations are elevated; the second part is the fall where their plans are dashed and they fall to a point below that from which they started; the third part is the return to equilibrium. Mathematicians will recognise this as the classic sine-curve: from zero up to 1, down to -1, and then back up to zero again.

At the end of the episode the cycle is complete, the situation restored, lessons have been learnt but we are back where we started ready to begin next week’s episode. The point is that, unless an actor wants to leave the series, or there is a major change of focus, the basic situation never changes.

So, even though she constantly embarrasses him, Ricky Ricardo never leaves Lucy, Al Bundy never leaves Peg, Arthur Bear never leaves Maggie, Saffy never leaves Edina. Sergeant Bilko never gets rich,(2) Dobie Gillis never gets Thalia the blonde prom queen, Jim Hacker never succeeds in implementing his reforms, Roseanne is never free from children, no one at Grace Brothers ever gets a better job. Life goes on as it did before. It is Vladimir and Estragon. "Waiting for Godot" is in fact a minimalist sitcom.

Doesn’t this quality of stasis in sitcoms bother the television audience?

Not at all. In fact it is precisely this lack of change which gives a sitcom, for the audience, the sense of mimicking real life. The characters on the screen who play out short segments of their trapped lives every week, are mirrors of the people who sit trapped in their own lives, watching them every week. Thus there is a significant correspondence between the psychology of the sitcom and the psychology of its audience. The more people age, and find themselves trapped in jobs, families, mortgages and particular circles of friends, the more entertaining they find these programs.

Guilty as charged, I suppose, but I'd point out that I only like the first few seasons, not the whole run.

Predator. I can see the appeal of Predator, and here in Japan, it always seems to come on as part of a Schwa-chan series, and they always show Commando, a movie that can make any other Schwa chan movie look like a multiple Academy award winner.

Nah, hil... I probably hallucinated it, because you are, after all, nothing if not (at the very least) "The Great Rememberer."

Tagging? I looked it up in the urban dictionary, but I don't think that's what you meant by tagging.

"Recently 'Contact' has quite captured my imagination."

One of the few actual science fiction movies ever done. (I like it; among the other films in this relatively rare genre: 2001, 2010.)

If anyone is deeply fascinated by what other tv I like, see here for a few recent words.

I'd have to agree that Friends was incredibly tightly written. This doesn't mean anyone has to like, but it displayed some highly accomplished technical skills, and an extraordinarily high ratio of attempted-jokes-per-minutes, as well.

Charmed, on the other hand, is pretty dumb, and the fact that it's lasted umpty seasons while series such as Firefly or Futurama did not simply testifies that, I guess, there's a large audience for shows feature nubile young women who tend to dress in skimpy costumes quite frequently. (Though Futurama will return, yay!)

"The point is that, unless an actor wants to leave the series, or there is a major change of focus, the basic situation never changes."

Of course, it's odd to cite this about Friends, since it distinctly violated those strictures. Ross got married again, Chandler and Monica got married, Phoebe got pregnant and had a baby, etc.

I started reading the Australian sitcom piece, but it's hard to take it seriously when it has so many glaring and obvious false claims. "In United States the half hour time slot is usually interrupted by two commercial breaks, one in the middle and the other near the beginning or the end."

Not only is that not true, it's never been true.

"Other formats threw curves at the traditional family structure itself as in "Eight is Enough", "The Brady Bunch" or "My Three Sons". Others put the family in exotic locations and times such as "Lost in Space" and "The Flintstones.""

"Eight Is Enough" isn't a sitcom, and never was a sitcom; ditto "Lost In Space."

"What state does Carl Weathers live in these days?"

I don't know about right now, but he comes from New Orleans, so there might be an opening against Blanco or Jindal. Any guesses what Party Mr. Weathers might care for?

"A movie I watched with xanax, who memorably said, when the monster first appeared: Oh my God, it's the Saran wrap from hell!"

Tsk. Such anti-alien prejudice. A very good case can be made that the Predator is the hero of the film. "Monster" is an undeserved label to toss at a highly skilled master of technology, who displays no signs whatever of being less "civilized" than human beings, whether in the film or in reality. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

"...and they always show Commando, a movie that can make any other Schwa chan movie look like a multiple Academy award winner."

One isn't talking seriously bad Schwarzenegger films until one starts talking Jingle All The Way, or Kindergarten Cop. On the action end, I'd say that Eraser, End of Days, Collateral Damage, and The Sixth Day all sucked worse, despite having much higher production values and budget. (And I'm not counting Batman And Robin as a Schwarzenegger film, and trying, as always, simply not to think of it as all, and to forget it entirely -- but I can't! I can't!)

Of course, you haven't lived if you've never seen the greatest Schwarzenegger film evah.

The later earlier (so to speak) Schwarzenegger films had a certain charming simplicity to them, though; they made skillful use of his inability to say much in English. Terminator is positively genius in that regard, and T2 is, I'd say, also one of the most classic action films ever made (if one doesn't like the genre, of course, one won't like any of the Arnold iterations of the genre; but the Terminator films, the two Conan films, and Predator and The Running Man are all very well-done Arnold films, I'd say; I suppose one could include Total Recall, but I can't get past what a bad sf film it is [eyeballs exploding in Mars atmosphere: please!], and how it had two good Phil Dick moments, and threw away the rest).

"...so I thought it was a good challenge to me (and I hope to others) to read this essay about the problematic aspects of the film."

Some odd things there. Although it's well-known (to anyone who reads much at all about either the Shoah or Spielberg) that the Schindler of the film is semi-fictional, when the writer you cite writes "...about whom very little of substance is known," well, that's quite an exaggeration in and of itself. Quite a bit is known, in fact.

The rest of that page is true stuff, but a pretty skimpy write-up. See here, for instance, for a review of the recent biography of Schindler; how anyone could write a 766 page biography of a man of whom allegedly "very ittle of substance is known," well, you know, you can't. (Although Lipstadt does observe that Crowe's book is overlong and with lots of extraneous detail; but, really, it's just absurd to say that "very little of substance is known" about Schindler; it's simply not true.

Of course, it's odd to cite this about Friends,

Of course, this is why I said "the development of the sitcom, up to pre Friends".

so many glaring and obvious false claims.
I didn't find the errors glaring, but as always, your mileage will (and usually does) vary. For example, I don't have much problem classifying, like wikipedia, Eight is Enough as a situation comedy, though the individual entry classifies it as a 'dramady', a pormanteau worthy of Chas, I think.

And Gary, when you cite a book that is called 'The Untold Account...', published in 2004, it would seem to support the assertion of someone writing in 1994 that Schindler was someone "...about whom very little of substance is known". Especially when Lipstadt's review notes "David Crowe devoted seven years [meaning he started in 1997], conducted scores of interviews and did research on four continents in order to write the definitive biography of Oskar Schindler." Time's arrow and all that. The points challenge my love of the movie and that's why I cited it.

"Of course, this is why I said 'the development of the sitcom, up to pre Friends'."

Fair enough.

"For example, I don't have much problem classifying, like wikipedia, Eight is Enough as a situation comedy, though the individual entry classifies it as a 'dramady', a pormanteau worthy of Chas, I think."

"Eight Is Enough" was an hour-long show; I only recall seeing it referred to as a drama, but, then, I never watched it. However, "dramedy" is a word that has been in common use in describing tv shows since The Days And Nights Of Molly Dodd in 1987, almost twenty years ago. When was it you last lived in the U.S.? I ask this because I'm wondering how familiar you are with common usage of the last couple of decades, if you think "dramedy" is some strange and unusual term.

When was it you last lived in the U.S.?

10 years this time, but I was last in the US for grad school, and didn't really have any time to watch TV or follow pop culture, so the total amount of time might be closer to 20 years if you include my time in Europe. JFTR.

Oh and don't forget about Sonny Landham, whose fall is why Stallone isn't going to run for anything. Unless Mary Carey succeeds, I suppose.

And Carl Weathers? He been there and done that. Or maybe not.


Hilzoy, I was actually just wondering, last Friday as I read it, whether you've read The Sunday Philosophy CLub by Alexander McCall Smith.

votermom: yes. Didn't like it as much as his Botswana series, though. I kept wanting to shake the main character and say: get a life!

Nice to see some other Botswana fans out there.

That stuff about Sonny Landham was wacky, lj. I admit to owning Predator on DVD (picked it up for like 10 bucks at Walmart). "My men are not expend-uhble. Und I don't do zis kind of vuurk."

I was wondering the main character came off as a convincing Philosophy geek to you?

And me three -- I like No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency a lot more. Gotta read the rest of the series.

"Nice to see some other Botswana fans out there."

I've always thought it an interesting country; a good friend of mine was First Secretary in our Embassy there for several years.

Don't know anything about the mentioned book series beyond the article I just googled. Botswana has definitely had things going for it, though; more than its neighbors.

I admit to owning Predator on DVD (picked it up for like 10 bucks at Walmart). "My men are not expend-uhble. Und I don't do zis kind of vuurk."
Now, who here has seen Jesse Ventura's other fighting-the-alien picture, in which he starred? Who could even name it without googling first? Hint: the title is four words, featuring the character's name, and then his title. And, you know, it's unbelievably bad. (I once worked for a while in a computer/book/electronics store where it was, for several days, the display DVD running non-stop; I'm, um, overly-familiar with it, myself.)

I had forgotten that Ventura was also "Captain Freedom" in The Running Man, though, directly after Predator. Ditto that he was a prison guard in the movie-that-doesn't-exist, Batman & Robin. And that he was in arguably the best episode ever of The X-Files.

You know, I'm pretty sure I saw that SNL bit, LJ. No new thing under the sun, I guess. Now I know how Dan Brown feels.

Here ya go, h., a little pick-me-up.

http://datacore.sciflicks.com/dr_strangelove/sounds/dr_strangelove_breaks.wav

And from the land use specialist in the house:

somewhere in Turkey there's a developer who needs ... (well, since i'm posting from work i'll delete the usual ending and write instead) a remedial class in suburban land use planning.

[ye gods, i thought some of the project i worked on were bad. wow. i mean, i'm all for low-cost housing and i understand {to a certain extent} the economics of modular design. still, a LITTLE variety is not so bad.]

my 4 shows (right now): American Idol, Antiques Roadshow, ER, Daily Show

the only one i set aside time for is... Antiques Roadshow. really.

1) I'm on a one-man crusade to kick "meme" out of the Blogosphere, when the word that's wanted is "questionaire". Please let's kill the meme that a questionaire is a meme. It's not.

2) Interestingly, many sit-coms have are more on the British line (the ones I've seen have always had an arc -- Yes, Minister; To the Manor Born; As Time Goes By -- although there are others: Keeping Up Appearances and Are You Being R/e/p/u/l/s/e/d Served?), although a fair number (like the CBS gross-husband-pretty-wife) are still static.

I wonder if this means Americans are less satisfied with being "trapped".

3) The movies I can over and over: My Favorite Year and Casablanca.

I must admit that I hate watching tv in the States. Luckily I see the shows I like via the internet, so no commercials...

Wouldn't want to miss the daily show, or BSG, or lost, or veronica mars :). And am in eager anticipation of dr. Who S28 :)

The sound of music is one of my most viewed films too. Like Mary Poppins and My fair Lady... I could watch them lots, and sing all the songs :). From the newer movies the World according to Garp comes to mind. And my neighbour Totoro (I love Miyazaki). But I have a very very varied taste,depending on the mood I'm in.

I just love the Sound of Music. I could watch it over and over. Especially the part when the Nazis' car is turning over and over in the background, and two nuns say to the Mother Superior: Mother, I have sinned. And the MS says: what is this sin, my children? And they hold out engine parts.

I have also been known to sing 'I Have Confidence' at low points in my life, when no one is around.

Don't let my superior attitude fool you, I probably know most the songs. To that and a lot of musicals. But I am embarrassed to know them, thanks to my husband.

I have a very good memory, and it doesn't all go to memorizing facts about human rights abuses. Lots of room for "Edelweiss" and Olympic figure skating medalists. No room for where my keys are, but, you know, can't win 'em all.

Re: one-man crusades to take words out of use. Mine are "in actuality" and "enplanement". But none of us will ever top this guy.

For Edgar Comee, of Brunswick, Maine, this transition marks a heightened alert in his self-appointed role of storm-watch monitor. His ears prick, his eyes narrow, the better to flag inexcusable mentions of that most unfortunate contraction: “nor’easter.” When he comes across the word, while watching a “cruddy local ABC news anchor,” as he puts it, or in the pages of a national magazine (see Talk of the Town, March 14, 2005), he dispatches a ready-made blue postcard.

“Now hear this!” the card begins. “The use of nor’easter to describe a northeast storm is a pretentious and altogether lamentable affectation, the odious, even loathsome, practice of landlubbers who would be seen as salty as the sea itself.” It continues in this baroque manner for several more sentences, and concludes, “You will of course accept my view in this matter in good part and will never again use nor’easter, at least in public, and thus oblige.” The card is signed, “Your most humble petitioner, Edgar Comee, Chairman, Ad Hoc Committee for Stamping Out Nor’easter.”

Grin. -- Myself, I'm getting increasingly annoyed by people who use 'reticent' when they mean 'reluctant'. As in, 'she was reticent to tell me her name', or something.

There is no reticent TO! Grrr!

I have never, ever seen even sixty seconds of footage from The Sound of Music. And it's not like I have some aversion to old movies, musicals, Robert Wise or Julie Andrews. Weird.

There is no reticent TO!

Very true -- TO is anything but reticent.
[pro football reference]

But scream and protest all you want, language is going to change irregardless.

And My Neighbour Totoro

Still my favorite Miyazaki movie, though it didn't get as much press as some of his later work. I thought it got the mix of reality and fantasy just right. And the younger daughter was scarily realistic -- our daughter was about the same age when we first saw it, and my wife and I were sure that the animators must've been secretly living in our house while working on it.

My Neighbour Totoro

Yes! The way he had the youngest daughter walk down the stairs after she caught the ma-kuro kurosuke, with her hands held together was perfect.

I understand that the US version cropped the movie and I don't know if the letter box version is out yet. Also, the grandmother speaks a really strong country dialect in the Japanese version, but the US version wasn't able to do that, though I heard that Disney is redubbing the whole movie.

My peevish word is "ilk." I swear I didn't see this word more than twice a year before I started reading blogs.

For real musical fun, I suggest going to piano bars in the Village. I keep forgetting the name of the place I've had such a good time at; it starts with an M and is right off Christopher. Non-religious sing-a-longs aren't quite dead yet, and huzzah! to that.

Sign me up for the anti-"meme" bandwagon. (Anti-"meme", by the way, also a musical. Rimshot!) But seriously folks -- not only was "meme" already overly-trendy in its original meaning, but the whole point of it is that it's an idea that quietly colonizes the mind. Anything that announces itself as "Hey! Here's a meme, whaddaya think?" isn't a meme.

peeves:

squashed for quashed. its vs. it's. their vs. there vs. they're. fingers in the dike, not dyke (i must suppress my inner 13 yr old, though.) rein in, not reign in nor rain in.

Oh God -- 'reign in' drives me nuts. It's one of those mistakes that shows that you're really not thinking about what you're saying. (Similarly: tow the line. Even supposing we're talking about a physical line (e.g., a fishing line, as opposed to a mathematical object), lines do not need towing, nor is it clear why, if you were to hook one up to the back of the tow truck and pull, that would in any way be analogous to what people who toe the line are doing.)

2) Interestingly, many sit-coms have are more on the British line (the ones I've seen have always had an arc -- Yes, Minister; To the Manor Born; As Time Goes By -- although there are others: Keeping Up Appearances and Are You Being R/e/p/u/l/s/e/d Served?), although a fair number (like the CBS gross-husband-pretty-wife) are still static.

What, no 'Allo 'Allo?

lines do not need towing

In the canal days they did. Towing the line back then had just about zilch to do with conformity, though, although there was frequently a teamwork aspect.

I don't bother correcting people in terms of usage anymore because a) I'm not an authority, and b) in doing so I might misspell something basic like "questionnaire".

"Please let's kill the meme that a questionaire is a meme. It's not."

Sure it can be. Any thought can be a meme.

And My Neighbour Totoro

Still my favorite Miyazaki movie, though it didn't get as much press as some of his later work.

Yeah, but it's too fast-paced, with too many jump-cuts. And far too many explosions. Darn multiple-generations of post-MTV. Also, much too much sex, and too much violence in general.

"I swear I didn't see this word more than twice a year before I started reading blogs."

That's the problem with you and your ilk.

"In the canal days they did."

Irrelevant to the complaint, though; no one uses the phrase to refer to that; it's simply a confusion with "toe the line." Also, your cite doesn't even demonstrate such a usage; it merely is an example of "tow" as a noun.

Hilzoy said "lines do not need towing", and I provided counterexample. And in the very next breath noted that it doesn't apply to the cliche in question. You want to pick nits of order two and higher, knock yourself out.

jhlipton: Please let's kill the meme that a questionaire is a meme. It's not.

Gary Farber: Sure it can be. Any thought can be a meme.

Any thought can be a meme, but using the word implies -- or used to imply -- more than that. It implies that the idea, in a metaphorical-but-still-useful sense, spreads itself because it finds fertile ground in many people's minds; religions being the canonical example. In the current bloggy sense, though, a meme is something that is explicitly handed over to someone else, with an announcement of "here's a meme". It's a different thing.

Now, the whole fad of these memes/questionnaires, taken in full with the "tag four more" rule -- that's a meme. As is the naming of them as memes.

"You want to pick nits of order two and higher, knock yourself out."

Meta-nits?

I didn't understand the metaphor 'nit-picking' particularly clearly until the day I actually got lice and had to engage in it...

at the bus stop


the old woman
with the canvas bag
is lousy

yesterday
i watched her
picking lice
from her hair

hard to do
(with dignity)
in public!

but she did it
one by one
her pinched fingers

travelling the lengths of hair
like one removing
oriental hair-pins

(from: In Winter The Somnambulist Desires Portugal)

ooh, I forgot my # 1 pet peeve: the use of "literally" to mean "very" or "figuratively".

ooh, I forgot my # 1 pet peeve: the use of "literally" to mean "very" or "figuratively".
Although there's a long history (and by that, I don't mean a few decades, I mean centuries) of that usage, I completely agree; it drives me crazy and eliminates a useful distinction and meaning.

Incidentally, though, I'll note that almost every usage distinction that we are bothered by has a long history of centuries of usage; prescriptivism is, after all, largely a 19th century phenomenon, and English wasn't remotely standardized prior to that; moreover, almost everyone who learned English in elementary schools, junior highs, and high schools, and even in most college-level classes, during the late 19th century and the entire 20th century, were taught by people with little or no knowledge of the history of grammar and usage, who therefore imparted all sorts of unsupportable notions about what were and weren't "rules," as if there were some Master Authority issuing them, like unto the French Academy. (It was common to assert that rules applicable to Latin should rule in English, which is just dumb; up with this we should not put.)

Nonetheless, having noted that, I'll also note that there are a wide variety of usage distinctions that are useful to greater clarity, and thus worth, in my opinion, preserving, and fighting over as worth observing, while there's still a chance of perpetuating them for a time, even though there is no greater authority behind them than said utilitarianism.

prescriptivism is, after all, largely a 19th century phenomenon

Of course, if you are only talking about English prescriptivism, perhaps, but prescriptivism in general, not so much (from the language log blog, which I like so much that I actually only look at it once a week so I know that there's lots of stuff there to read)

"Of course, if you are only talking about English prescriptivism,"

Yes, I'm only talking about English prescriptivism.

"Meme" is French for "same". hmmmm.
Is "tow the line" related to "moving the goalposts" ?
Perhaps the most "inflammatory" mixup is that word, which had to have a prefix replacement to clearly distinguish it from "flammatory", i.e. non-flammable.
This is much more genteel a conversation than that at "Grammar Gulag" ; warning, juvenile site.

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