Daniel Day-Lewis Saves Golden Globes from Amazingitis
Do they do it just to torture me? Don't the Golden Globe recipients see how I get the megrims when all they can say is "amazing" and "incredible" for everything they value? When they repeat the same few weary, stock superlatives used year after year---at these ceremonies and the Academy Awards as well?
Haven't they heard my cry for meaningful terms of praise and acclaim, seen my book of 6,000 alternatives to "amazing" and its ilk?
I guess not. Because in acceptance speeches at the 2013 Golden Globes Awards ceremony (January 13), every outfit, agent, husband, director, crew member, mother and child was "amazing." Every experience was "incredible," except for a few things distinguished as something beyond special---these were "absolutely amazing."
I write about expression and expressiveness, but I use "amazing" myself in casual speech, and I don't jump on friends who do the same. When there's little time to prepare or consider alternatives,a stock term hits the tongue and that's it. Filler. Ineffective but inoffensive.
But when intelligent and extravagantly paid actors with their well-paid publicity teams know they'll be needing words to describe excitement, achievement, surprise, gratitude, and admiration, wouldn't you expect better than the most flaccid, most exhausted terms? And if we didn't hear them say "amazing," we heard such surrenders as "I just don't have the words," "there are no words to describe ..." ?
Well, there are words to describe worthy things! Thousands of them, whether as single words, phrases, or figures of speech. One has only to care---to make a small effort in thought and preparation. It took a caring Irish actor to underscore this fact at the Golden Globe Awards, just when, writhing in lexical pain, I'd despaired of anyone breaking the grip of the stock terms.
And there he was, Daniel Day-Lewis, accepting best-actor award for his title role in "Lincoln." Soft-spoken and Lincolnesque himself, he first spun a tidy metaphor about a day's work equaling a scavenged mouse brought home in the jaws. He then nobly shunned "amazing" and "incredible" as he praised his "gifted" colleagues and hailed "Lincoln" director Steven Spielberg as "a humble master with a quicksilver imagination." Finally, to cap the ceremonies and save my evening, he addressed the film's writer:
"Tony Kushner---every day, I have to live without the immeasurable wealth of your language; which reminds me every day of the impoverishment of my own."
Maybe it wasn't quite Cicero or Shakespeare, but in the night's maze of amazings, it showed the way out.
London-based publisher buys UK rights
Better Than Great Buzz
Can you hear it? It's the canorous buzz surrounding Better Than Great: A Plenitudinous
Compendium of Wallopingly Fresh Superlatives (Viva Editions, Berkeley).
Come closer: click, see, listen, read, attend. Share the love of expressive language. --A.P.
Interviews on the air, online,
and in print
Interview with guest host Jessica Page Morrell on "Susan Rich Talks, " Oct. 8, on All
Women’s Radio, http://w4wn.com.Annemarie Schuetz is the co-host.
Words you hate and love discussed on the Regina Brett Show, WKSU/NPR out of Cleveland, with co-guests Robert Lane Greene and Dr. Wei Zhang. 9/14/11. Listen here.
Plotnik chats mirthfully with iconic San Francisco radio host Peter B. Collins on the PBC Show, 9/4/11. Begins 45 minutes into this podcast
Lively 10-minute segment on the NPR affiliate program "Here and Now," with host Robin Young. 8/9/11. Go here and click the "listen" button.
Four-minute segment with Art Plotnik on WGN-TV (Channel 9, Chicago)Midday News, 6/24/11. Click here.
Newstalk Radio from Ireland, the Montcrieff Show, 9:35 EST, July 26.
Katherine Dunn show, Wisconsin Public radio, with Veronica Reukel. Interview with call-ins, June 7, 2011.
A conversation on the Jon Rappoport Show, July 6, Progressive Radio Network.
Scott Cluthe talks with with Arthur Plotnik on "Positively Incorrect" radio, May 26, 2011.
Barbara DeMarco-Barrett chats with Arthur Plotnik, June 12, 2011 (at the 30-minute mark of the hour show).
Plotnik named Book Brahmin on "Shelf Awareness," favorite online mag of booksellers. Plotnik answers six questions.
Two hours on
WGN radio Extension 720, hosted by Milt Rosenberg, 6/26/11.
6/16/11. Talk and signing, Sulzer Regional Library of the Chicago Public Library, 4455 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL. (312) 744-7616
6/25/11. Talk and signing, Authors Room, 7th Floor,
Chicago Public Library Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S.
State Street, Chicago, IL.
6/2611. Talk and signing at Winnetka-Northfield Public Library, 768 Oak Street, Winnetka, IL. (847) 446-7220.
6/28/11.Talk and signing, Niles Public Library, 6960 West Oakton Street, Niles, IL. (847) 663-1234
Words We Women Write. "Rub Those Words Together: Set Them on Fire! Or: Art Plotnik Does It Again." Feb. 8.
"Ban Awesome, Try Transcendent," by Heidi Stevens, Chicago Tribune TribU, June 29, 2011, and (print) Chicago Tribune Printers Row section, July 16, 2011.
"Putting In a Good Word," by Sara Burrows, Chicago suburban Pioneer Press/Sun-Times, June 23, 2011,
"Superlatives 101," by Arthur Plotnik. The Writer magazine, May 2011.