Want to find a place in the arts world that abounds with colorful language? Try looking at an art that's dependent on it.
Today we continue our series explaining unusual words and phrases in the arts by looking at the language of book publishing.
Open Book on Washington Avenue in Minneapolis calls itself "a home for literary and book arts." Among its tenants are Milkweed Editions, a nonprofit publisher of literature for adults and young readers; and the Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA), which is dedicated to preserving the traditional crafts of bookmaking.
Open Book in Minneapolis celebrated its tenth anniversary last May.
Ben Barnhart, an editor at Milkweed, and Jeff Rathermel, the executive director at MCBA, were happy to share the specialized language from their industry, an industry filled with terms that sound anything from cryptic to macabre.
According to Milkweed's Barnhart, the slushpile is the stack of manuscript submissions that accumulates at a publishing house. Items in the slushpile are waiting to be read by an editor, who then determines whether a publisher will pursue or decline the submission. Barnhart has seen photos of slushpiles that tower over editors' heads, but those days may be over. "Now our slushpile is actually digital because we take submissions online," he says. "We don't have that looming spectre of manuscripts anymore."
Editor Ben Barnhart of Milkweed Editions.
dead dogs and dead cats
"I don't think anyone would mistake 'dead dogs and dead cats' for something pleasant," Barnhart prefaces before explaining that dead dogs and dead cats are manuscripts that have been sent to -- and rejected by -- every publisher in the industry. Barnhart says that he expects persistent book agents to send dead dogs and dead cats, and that sometimes a manuscript rejected by a larger publishing house is just right for Milkweed. "But if you're an editor worth your title, you'll have at least one phone call with an agent when you'll say, 'I want to see new work, and I don't want to see any dead dogs or dead cats!'" he chuckles. "That's just kind of part of the game we play."
mould and deckle
This pairing comprises the equipment that's used to make a piece of paper. The mould is a frame with a screen on it that sieves paper out of pulp. The deckle is the frame. "And the little shelf where you put your frame, that's called the ass," Rathermel laughs. "I think that comes from the 'mule' sense of the word."
MCBA's Jeff Rathermel holds a mould and deckle.
In a paper mill, the dandy roll is a little roller that embosses a watermark onto freshly pulled paper.
In a print shop, the printer's devil is a young apprentice.
"out of sorts"
An individual piece of lead type is called a sort. A drawer that doesn't contain enough of the letter E, for example, is described as being "out of sorts".
Rathermel selects a sort from the Bookman typeface.
Because a case of type that is "out of sorts" is not fully functional or usable, we've gained the general idiom "out of sorts" to describe a person who is not well or not behaving properly. Yet another idiom that comes from printing is...
"mind your Ps and Qs"
"...and your Bs and Ds," Rathermel cautions. "When you're typesetting with lead type, you're setting type upside down and backwards, so p's, b's, d's, q's all kind of look the same. But you can't just use a d backwards to be a q; they're all designed in a specific way."
Rathermel suggests it's from this rule in the printing world that we get the idiomatic expression admonishing us to be on our best behavior, although etymologist Michael Quinion isn't so sure.
Any pieces of type that are dropped on the floor in a print shop are picked up and tossed into the hell box. "It's a box of lead pieces from maybe 20, 30 different type faces, all different sizes, and someone--usually the printer's devil--has to find the right cabinet each piece goes back into," Rathermel explains. "It is a hell box. That's where the name comes from."
The hell box contains a jumble of lead type pieces, all of which must eventually be returned to their proper places.
widows and orphans
An orphan is when the last word of a preceding paragraph doesn't reach past the empty indent space for a subsequent paragraph; a widow is when the last line of a paragraph gets bumped over a page spread, so only a single or partial line of text appears at the top of the page. "I think those are crazy terms," Barnhart muses, "but they're kind of wonderful terms as well."
Widows and orphans can be fixed by reflowing the type so it lines up in a more visually pleasing way.
The gutters are the inside margins within a page layout.
Although a signature can certainly be an author's autograph, when it comes to bookbinding, a signature is collection of page layouts that are folded together into a booklet. Ordinal stacks of signatures are what will eventually be bound into completed books.
An array of signatures is what becomes a finished book.
Once signatures are stacked in the right order, they are "knocked up" -- or squared into place -- before they are bound into books.
When signatures are folded together, the edges of the center piece of paper are going to extend further out than the edges of the outside piece of paper. That difference is called creep. Sometimes a publisher will choose to leave the undulating pattern of creep in place; most of the time, publishers will lop off the creep. And the name of the device used to do that?
A guillotine is the device publishers use to cut the creep off a book. "It cuts pretty easy," Rathermel explains as he pulls a massive iron lever that lowers a huge blade across a thick volume. "It's a very sharp blade and it's counterweighted, so it just kind of comes at it, has this sideways angle, and it just kind of slices it off."
Rathermel prepares to guillotine a book.
It may be obvious but it merits saying: Keep fingers clear.
Next Tuesday, visit State of the Arts for lingo from the world of photography.
Patrick Castillo is very proud of his band.
"This is a very good Baroque band," he said the other morning. "And so we're going to have those muscles of the orchestra flexed with the music by Bach and the music by Handel."
His band, by the way, is the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and he's the artistic planning director. He was talking about the SPCO's 2011-2012 season which is released this morning.
"We are also going to have five world premieres so showing a very broad spectrum of music that I think the SPCO excels at," he said.
The new season samples works from half a millenium, but really highlights new music. The season opens with a new oratorio by New York composing phenom Nico Muhly, who has been playing regularly at the Southern Theater over the past few years.
Castillo says if the season has a theme it's simply to explore great music.
"We have the music of Bach and Handel, but we also have five world premieres and a lot of other living composers represented in our 11-12 season," he said.
He singles out a string symphony by Lara Auerbach which will also premier in the fall.
"She is a very dynamic composer, pianist, poet. Really kind of a consummate artist," he said. "A little bit of a throwback to the comprehensive artistry that we saw with the composers of the late 19th century. You know, these piano virtuosos who took the stage in their own piano concerti. So she'll be performing her works as well during a week-long residency with us."
Castillo says the artistic partner model which the SPCO has been using for several years now continues to work well, with both the commissioning of new work and the deeper exploration of the music of the past. He points to a series of concerts planned for Dawn Upshaw.
"If you want to play Bach, you don't just play Bach, but you play Bach with the best Bach people and I think our artistic partner roster allows us to do things like that."
The SPCO will also revamp its website, and build up the availability of archived concerts online.
Posted at 9:07 AM on March 1, 2011
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: News and reviews
A quick look at recent releases
"The Red Garden" by Alice Hoffman, and "Bitter Melon" by Cara Chow
- Star Tribune
Scenes shot in Twin Cities for movie starring Anthony Hopkins
Heavy snow at MSP was ideal for shooting scenes for film starring Anthony Hopkins.
- PAUL WALSH, Star Tribune
Oscar morning after: Local fashions, and the Corey Haim snub
- Max Sparber, MinnPost.com
Oscar aftermath, winners and losers
Co-hosts of the Oscars, Anne Hathaway and James Franco did a fabulous job and I for one really loved the fast paced flow and cutting edge flare of the event.
- Ted Engen, Examiner.com
(FYI - Josh Groban is coming to Minneapolis Target Center on July 8 ...and The Monkees will perform July 1 and 2 at the Minnesota Zoo)
St. Paul Chamber Orchestra: 2011-12 will mix old, new
Included are five world premieres along with a focus on composers Bach, Mendelssohn and Schubert.
- GRAYDON ROYCE, Star Tribune
Double the pleasure: Season shows off two sides of SPCO
The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra leads a double life. To some, it's an ensemble expert at interpreting music of the 18th and early 19th centuries. To others, it's one of America's prime presenters of new works by contemporary composers.
- Rob Hubbard, Pioneer Press
Tapes 'n Tapes at First Avenue, 2/25/2011
Any Tapes performance has its fair share of guitar-shredding screams, but with the bass line turned way up and the vocals turned way down, the show at First Ave was, in some ways, shockingly loud and a little dark.
- Natalie Gallagher, City Pages
Tapes 'n Tapes homecoming show lacked the right mix
Tapes 'n Tapes were great. It's just too bad that the sound was so off. There was too much reverb, not enough vocals. Not enough vocals, too much drums.
- Lindsay Lelivelt, Examiner.com
Merle Haggard and Kris Kristofferson at Mystic Lake Casino, 2/27/11
What can I say. This was really, really cool.
- Nikki Miller, City Pages
Jamey Johnson sets 'em up at Fine Line
Johnson's fans knew most his songs and sang along as if they were gospel texts -- which was pretty remarkable in his case, since he has only received a smattering of radio play.
- Chris Riemenschneider
David Gray talks about his favorite and least favorite songs
His latest release, 2009's Draw the Line, put him at the forefront of success again for the first time in quite a few years with songs like "Fugitive" and "Nemesis."
- Cindal Lee Heart, City Pages
The Gateway District talk about their new album
Although the members are often scattered across the country due to other obligations, they found the time to get together for Perfect's Gonna Fail, which will be released in March on It's Alive Records.
- Loren Green, City Pages
From the heart of treme
Singer/trombonist Glen David Andrews crowd-surfs from New Orleans to Minneapolis on a growing wave of acclaim.
- RICK MASON, Star Tribune
Akron/Family at the Cedar Cultural Center, 02/25/11
While their 'all is love/love is all' hippie-vibe isn't for everyone, for their hardcore fans it's a philosophy which they clearly identify with and adhere to.
- Erik Thompson, City Pages
'Song's' refrain: Simple story, complex emotions
A youngster and his biology teacher stand out in Latte Da's "Song of Extinction."
- GRAYDON ROYCE, Star Tribune
'Hair' is back. But this time, everybody is feelin' groovy.
Unlike in 1971, when St. Paul was a bit more uptight
- Ross Raihala, Pioneer Press
'Barrio Grrrl!' playwright relishes chance to write for children
Alegria-Hudes is thrilled to have more audiences see her musical about 9-year-old Ana, her invisible sidekick Amazing Voice, and her super hero alter ego, Barrio Grrrl.
- Ed Huyck, City Pages
Brave New Workshop moves closer to buying new building downtown
The Minneapolis City Council's 12-0 vote Friday to approve Brave New Workshop's purchase of the Hennepin Stages space moves the longstanding local comedy troupe one step closer to opening a new home in downtown Minneapolis.
- Ed Huyck, City Pages
Guthrie pays tribute to late artistic director
The late Michael Langham will be the focus of a tribute Sunday at the Guthrie Theater.
- Chris Hewitt, Pioneer Press
Chanhassen Dinner Theatres holds food drive
The "Feed My People" food drive is a partnership between Chanhassen Dinner Theatres and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, which is sponsoring Chanhassen's production of "Jesus Christ Superstar."
It's been a long time since I've been so excited to see a new film. But Pina, by Wim Wenders (director of Wings of Desire and Paris,Texas) promises to be a singular event. The film is dedicated to the life and work of choreographer Pina Bausch, with whom Wenders had a decades-long friendship before Bausch died in 2009.
Wenders had long planned on bringing Bausch's dance to the movie screen, but struggled for years on how to do it justice. It was after seeing U2's 3D concert-film that Wenders realized he needed that third dimension to give the film new life. But even looking at 2D clips of the film, the energy, movement and filming is simply stunning.
Posted at 4:42 PM on March 1, 2011
by Euan Kerr
Filed under: Film
Matt McCormick admits his movie "Some Days Are Better Than Others" might seem like a hard sell sometimes. The film, which is screening in the Sound Unseen series at the Trylon in Minneapolis on Wednesday, follows the misadventures of three misfits in McCormick's hometown of Portland, Ore.
One blurb for a screening in New York described them as competitors in a 'saddest job in the world' contest, but McCormick says he thinks that's unfair.
"I hope it's not entirely a sad film. It deals with some sad issues, but I don't think its a sad film. I think its more about the process of dealing with unfortunate situations," he told me over the phone from Portland. "It's a movie that wears its heart on its sleeve, and its not a feelgood comedy by any means."
In reality "Some Days Are Better than Others" is a beautifully crafted exploration of unfulfilled dreams. We meet a young woman who works in an animal shelter whose boyfriend just dumped her. As she tracks his new found freedom on social media she convinces herself she can escape from her misery by getting on a reality show. There's an aging hipster who believes if he can just get a production job on a local film crew his life will change forever, and then there is the woman who works sorting donations in a thrift store who finds a discarded object which begins to consume her.
"Something that is very important to the movie is all of these various abandoned objects," McCormick said. "Whether its the dogs at the Humane society or the objects at the donation center or the buildings that are boarded up and being demolished. I wanted to have this real life reflection where the audience had to deal with that."
McCormick says each of the stories has roots in real life, but then he abstracted and played with them until the movie came together.He wanted to explore the melancholy mundane feelings people often experience. "Knowing that things are not going the way you want," he said, "But knowing they could be a whole lot worse."
"There's a little stress that comes with that, and it's part of growing up. And I think we are always growing up, whether you are 25 or 40 or 60, you are always going to be facing that reality of where you are at compared with that idealized image you had of yourself 20 years earlier, or whatever, and how you thought things would work out."
Getting back to the idea of selling the film to an audience, McCormick says he didn't make it with that in mind. He just made a movie he wanted to make.
"It relies on the audience doing some of the work as well," he said. He says he doesn't think his audience is necessarily filled with cinephiles. He's looking for an audience like those he finds in Portland
"They are just smart curious people who want to go and find entertainment, whatever, art film music that speaks to them more directly and satisfied them both in terms of entertainment and also intellectually."
He's finding that audience all over. After screenings around the country (including at Sound Unseen Duluth showing last year) the film was due to be released nationally this month. However then it was selected for the New Director New Screens series at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and so the broader release is being held for a couple of weeks until after the showings at MoMa and Lincoln Center.
He says that larger release will likely include the Twin Cities, although it all depends on how it goes in the first few cities.
McCormick has made many films in recent years, and a lot of music videos. He actually worked with two of his actors in their other lives as musicians, Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney and James Mercer of the Shins and Broken Bells.
He says he enjoys making videos because they are face-paced to make, and you can push the creative envelope. Making a feature is very different he says because of dealing with the emotion action and reaction to actors working with their lines.
"And so as a result a narrative work is much more delicate but that's not to say the video work didn't have a big impact on it," he said. "As film makers we are always learning. Any project that I do whether it's a documentary or a more experimental piece, or music video, or even some of the commercial work I do, every project that I do I walk away learning something."
Matt McCormick is always trying something new. He's just opened a gallery show in Portland which is based on a the remarkable story of a group of women who in 1958 set off in a car to explore the Northwest. They drove 3,500 miles and then made the scrapbook to commemorate the trip.
"That scrapbook somehow ended up in a thrift store and I found it, and I retraced their trip and did their entire roadtrip in 2010 and made this project which is one part documentary film, and one part visual art collage, and made this immersive gallery installation show."
He used the trip to document what has changed and what remains the same.
So what's next. He laughed and said he needs to get some busy work done. Like his taxes. The life of a film director isn't always glamorous.