Wednesday, August 09, 2006


N. A specialized vocabulary or set of idioms used by a particular group: thieves' argot.

Incidentally, it also used to be the name of the literary page in the campus paper at SUNY Purchase. I used to do illustrations for it.

I watched "Brick" last night. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I watched it on DVD. It is due to show at one of the town's more artistically inclined theaters next week, a place affectionately dubbed "the moldy place" not to be confused with "the sticky place," which in all fairness has improved its floors. However, it came out on DVD this week and I could not wait. That is what happens when you are in a small city, near the bottom of the movie distribution food chain waiting like some kind of remora for the movies which have ceased to play in larger cities, with their relatively mold free theaters. (horrible analogy, I know, but it is so oceanographic I had to leave it in). Movies arrive on DVD before they play in the local theater: it is like a jet arriving before its sound, only different.

One of the things I enjoyed about the film was its use of slang: a mixture of hard-boiled film noir speak and invented high school slang. At least I imagine it is invented, I actually have no idea what the kids today are saying. I love a film or book that is not afraid to throw in some invented bits of slang, or dialectic, without definition and lets the audience just figure it out. It really foregrounds the sound of language, or words, at the same time it emphasizes the way language is always the language of a particular group, a particular collective subject of enunciation (to use a bit of jargon) that it in turn constitutes. In the film language is a marker of belonging: the central character, Brendan, is able to move through the various groups by his use of language. (Hence his referencing of the thesaurus and a particular "tough but fair" English teacher).

The "in joke" functions in the same way, I suppose. This occurred to me this evening as I had the good fortune to have dinner with two college friends. The crowd I used to "eat with" to use the aformentioned film's vernacular. We did not bring up any old in jokes, those are long since forgotten, but I felt like we came up with a half a dozen over the course of the evening--not lasting ones, I think, just little references to other things said. That is my definition of a good time.

Oh, by the way here is a picture of the pair in question. And, according to the article they did swim.

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