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Posts Tagged ‘South Wales Echo’

The Fourth Wall

Posted by Admin on November 11, 2013

Thanks to philosopher, writer and art critic, Denis Diderot (5 October 1713 – 31 July 1784) the concept of the fourth wall became an integral part of 19th-century theater thanks to the growing realism in theater productions. The fourth wall put forth the idea that there was an imaginary boundary between fictional stage presentations and the audience. More and more often, breaking the fourth wall is happening in comic books and video games. Or as Russ Buchanan wrote, the fourth wallrepresents the willing suspension of disbelief and frame of mind that casts the audience as passive observers of the actors, who carry out the action pretending nobody’s watching.”

In other words, acknowledgement of the audience, or speaking directly to the audience is known as breaking the fourth wall. It’s not an aside. It’s not a soliloquy. It’s a break in the otherwise contained pseudo-reality happening on stage, in film, in comic books and in video games where the actor interacts directly with the audience.  In the movie “Ferris Beuller’s Day Off” Matthew Broderick’s character, Ferris, breaks the fourth wall repeatedly as he addresses the audience throughout the movie.

On September 8, 2013 the South Wales Echo published a short article under “News, Opinion and Commentary” entitled, “TV Times Past.” The show in questions from TV times past was Moonlighting which ran from 1986 to 1989 and starred Cybill Shepherd and a young Bruce Willis just starting out in the industry. The article included this bit midway through the article:

Take, for example, the smouldering on-screen chemistry between Willis and co-star Cybill Shepherd, the wise-cracking scripts and such groundbreaking innovations as having characters break the fourth wall by talking into the camera to the folks at home.

In the Entertainment section of the Bryan Times on March 31, 1976, the editor chose to run with the story by UPI Television Writer, Joan Hanauer’s story entitled, “Helter Skelter Adapted From Manson Murders.” Her story spoke about the upcoming two-part CBS made-for-television movie which she labeled as the epitome of actuality drama.

The acting is uniformly excellent: George DiCenzo plays Bugliosi as a dedicated prosecutor, and who at times must speak directly to the audience, a novelty for many actors accustomed to the “fourth wall” concept of theater, in which the audience is presumed to be watching the action through an invisible or removed “fourth wall.”

Mention of the “fourth wall” is difficult to find in publications prior to the latter part of the 20th century. So how do we know that the term existed prior to this date? We know this thanks to the book by Denis Diderot entitled «Discours sur la poesie dramatique» and published in 1758 where he writes about theater, stating to the actors: “Imagine on the border between the scene and the spectators a big wall. Play as if the curtain was never opened.”

It became a favorite of Realist and Naturalist plays, as the play kept the audience safely concealed behind the fourth wall while at the same time, acknowledging them only when needed.

The concept was adapted by French actor, theatre manager, film director, author, and critic, André Antoine (31 January 1858 – 19 october 1943) for his naturalistic plays at the Théâtre Libre (founded in 1887). Unsure as to which wall was to be the fourth wall, he would have his sets built with all four walls and only decide afterwards which of the four walls was, indeed, the fourth wall … the one that needed to be removed from the scene.

Truth be told, however, technically the fourth wall has always been a part of staged performance art going back to Ancient Greece and beyond. It’s just that Denis Diderot formulated the concept and described it in more concrete wording.  But the fact that the word was used between italics in the 1976 newspaper review of the made-for-television movie, “Helter Skelter” indicates that the expression was a relatively new one for reporters and journalists at least.  As such, Idiomation pegs its use to the generation before and 1950.

Posted in Idioms from the 20th Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Sin Bin

Posted by Admin on October 30, 2013

With hockey season in full swing, certain sports idioms are being heard more and more often including sin bin. But the expression sin bin isn’t just a hockey term. In fact, it’s used in a number of sports. What exactly is a sin bin? A sin bin is a penalty box where players sit to serve the time of a given penalty. In Britain more recently, it also refers to a special unit on a separate site from a school that disruptive schoolchildren attend until they can be reintegrated into their normal classes.

On March 28, 2011 the South Wales Echo out of Cardiff published a sports story entitled, “Crusaders Run Into Dixon In Fine Form.” As brief as the story was, it still managed to use sin bin as a verb no fewer than three times. In this sentence:

The Welsh team trailed 22-0 at half-time after paying dear for having three players sin-binned in the first half.

In this sentence:

The first half was marred by an 18th-minute brawl that saw Crusaders duo Vince Mellars and Witt and Castleford’s Youngquest sin-binned.

And finally, in this sentence:

Crusaders were then reduced to 12 again in the 34th minute when full-back Schifcofske was sin-binned for throwing a spare ball onto the pitch in an apparent attempt to slow down play when the Tigers were in possession.

That’s a lot of sin-binning!

When Brian Mossop reported on a game in the Rugby League in his story “Ugly Side Of League Goes In Pairs” for the Sydney Morning Herald of June 29, 1982 he built excitement for readers by starting the article with this:

Two players were sent off, two were taken to hospital, two did time in the sin bin, and two biting incidents were reported as Rugby Leagues showed some of its uglier side in matches yesterday.

Shortly after that, he wrote:

At Endeavour Field referee Kevin Roberts ordered two props, Cronulla-Sutherland’s Dane Sorensen and South Sydney’s Gary Hambly, to the sin bin for 10 minutes after a second-half brawl.

Canadians have always loved their hockey and on January 4, 1964 the Ottawa Citizen shared sports news in a story entitled, “Penalties Galore, Even For Teams Not On The Ice.” The story dealt with a number of games, but when it came to reported on the hockey games in the Ontario Hockey League, readers were shocked to learn that the Morrisburg versus Lancaster game resulted in a league record total of 92 minutes in a game that ended 4 to 2. The last two sentences read:

Bob Tilley, picked up by Morrisburg from the folded Brockville team, was sentenced to a total of 21 minutes in the sin bin for various offences. Between penalties, Morrisburg made it tough on Lancaster goalie Don Grant, who stopped a total of 50 shots while playing an outstanding game.

A generation before that on March 31, 1939 the Windsor Daily Star reported on another hockey game in a story entitled, “Die-Hard Wings Tie It Up: Rangers Stick.” This game wasn’t just any hockey game. It was a battle between the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the prize was the 1939 Stanley Cup! With almost 12,000 fans at the Detroit Olympia to cheer on both teams, all of the goals and eight of the penalties were packed into the first period, along with ninety percent of the action according to the reporter. Midway through the story, readers learned the following:

It was while the Wings rearguard was in the sin-bin that the Leafs got their only goal of the game to balance accounts. It was a typical Toronto power play that netted the counter. Four abreast, the visitors swept into Detroit territory.

Idiomation was unable to find an earlier published reference to sin bin. Because it was used in 1939 with the expectation that the idiom would be understood, the term pre-dates 1939. That being said, the first modern hockey game was played on March 3, 1875. As the game evolved, so did the nature of penalties although Idiomation was unable to find an exact date when the penalty box was first used.

That being said, it would not be unreasonable to tag the use of the idiom sin bin to 1930, and if any of our readers has a date for when the first penalty box came to be in hockey, please share the link to that information with others by way of the comments below.

Posted in Hockey, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Indian Summer

Posted by Admin on September 5, 2011

As many readers know, an Indian summer is a period of warm weather which sometimes happens in early autumn.  What is not as well-known is that an Indian summer can also be a successful or pleasant period in someone’s life, oftentimes in the twilight years of their life.

On September 1, 2008 the Guardian newspaper in the UK published a news story entitled, “Is Summer Really Over?  According to the paper, it had been a particularly soggy summer with North Ireland breaking the record for rain for the month of August that had previously been set in 1914.  The UK, overall, had seen 154% more rain than usual and this had caused flooding that disrupted transportation and saw outdoor events cancelled.  However, September promised to be a more temperate month according to weather forecasters.

Today marks the start of autumn according to the Meteorological office, and unfortunately its autumn forecast doesn’t promise an Indian summer.  For the UK it predicts that temperatures will be near to or just above the average of 16C.  However, don’t put your barbecue away yet, because the good news is that rainfall is forecast to be below average.

Just a year earlier, the summer months were terribly wet in Scotland according to journalist Bill Chudziak of the Glasgow Sunday Mail as evidenced by his article published on September 2, 2007.  The article reported in part:

Summer was a washout.  This record breaker has deluged wildlife and commercial crops, resulting in significant failure. Provisional figures from the Met Office show 387.6mm (15in) of rain have already fallen in May, Jun and July, making it the wettest summer since records began in 1766.  However, September’s here, an Indian summer is surely due and there’s a rake of jobs to do.

Oddly enough, on October 26, 2002 the South Wales Echo published a news article by Simon Williams entitled, “Driest September For Almost A Decade” in which his first sentence was:

Forget Venice, Madrid and the hotspots of the Mediterranean, South Wales is basking in an Indian Summer that is making it one of the warmest parts of Europe.

The phrase was included in the 1841 edition of the Webster dictionary which indicates that the term was already part of every day language, back to at least the early 1800s.

Back on October 13, 1794, Major Denny was stationed with his troops at French Creek near the present city of Erie, Pennsylvania.  In his journal he made an entry in his journal that read: “Pleasant Weather. The Indian summer here. Frosty nights.”

A reference to “Indian Summer” is found in The Farmer’s Almanac edited by Robert B. Thomas in 1792.

If All Saints brings out Winter, Saint Martin’s brings out Indian Summer.

And in 1790,  General Josiah Harmar made 3 journal entries over a period of 10 days that read as follows:

Thursday, Oct 21st – fine weather – Indian summer. Having completed the destruction of the Maumee towns as they are called, we took up our line of march this morning from the ruins of Chillicothe for Ft. Washington. Marched about 8 miles.

Saturday, Oct. 23rd – Indian summer.  Took up our line of march this morning at 8 o’clock and encamped about 24 miles from the ruins of the Maumee towns. This days march about 16 miles – much encumbered with our wounded men.

Sunday, Oct 31st – Fine, clear weather. Indian summer. Marched and halted a little while at what is called Sugar Camp – from thence to Caesar’s creek, a branch of the Little Miami – three miles. Thence crossed the Little Miami.”

Indian summer is recorded in Letters From an American Farmer, written in 1778 and published in 1782.  The author was French-American soldier turned farmer J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur (1735 – 1813) also known as Michel-Guillaume-Jean de Crèvecoeur.  He immigrated from France to North America in 1755 when he was just 20 years old, finally settling in New York state sometime in 1759.  In his book, the following passage is found:

Then a severe frost succeeds which prepares it to receive the voluminous coat of snow which is soon to follow; though it is often preceded by a short interval of smoke and mildness, called the Indian Summer.

But the earliest version of  “Indian Summer” is found in the story told by the First Nations people of the Eastern Woodlands

The story goes that a noble warrior of great integrity, kindness, compassion and honesty and what happened in his relationship between him and the Creator over a period of years when times were very hard on his people.  As times worsened, the warrior blamed others and then the Creator for what was happening. 

The villagers begged the warrior to seek wisdom and guidance from the Creator but he would not, and so the villagers built him a lodge on the far side of a great field by the river so he could live on his own.  They brought him food to keep him alive and clothing to keep him warm.

By the time December came around, the warrior realized he had been wrong to blame the Creator for the problems he and his people had experienced.  He begged the Creator to forgive him and he was forgiven.  By January, the warrior was starving and he begged the Creator for food.  The Creator told the warrior to do everything that would be asked of him and not question anything asked of him by the Creator.

He was told by the Creator to look in the empty gourds within the lodge and if he found corn, bean and squash seeds, as well as other seeds, he was to plant them.  The warrior found these seeds but he also knew that the ground outside was frozen and hard.  He also knew that if he managed to plant these seeds in the frozen found, nothing would grow because is was the Moon of Much Cold.  Still, he had given his word to the Creator not to question His directions and he left the lodge to plant the seeds.

Night came and the Creator spoke to the warrior, telling him that the next day, the warrior would have to rise early and tend to the plants.  At first, the warrior wondered if Coyote had come to trick him but he remember what the Creator had told him, and so the next morning he arose early and tended to the plants.  To his surprise, the day felt more like the Moon of Spring (April) and he was surprised and happy to see that each mound where a seed had been planted had a seedling growing.

On the second morning, the Creator commanded the warrior to arise and till the plants.  Without questioning, the warrior rose and stepped out of the lodge where the warmth of the Moon of Flowers (May) warmed him.  The seedlings from the day before were now plants, so he tilled and weaned each and every mound and at the end of the day, he returned tired but pleased with the work he had done.

One the third morning, the Creator woke the warrior again and said, “Arise warrior and weed the plants and eat.” 

The warrior got up out of bed and left his lodge.  He found the day to be warm like the days of the Month of Green Corn (June).  He went out to the plants where he saw many of them were being choked by weeds and so he weeded the plants, picked some of the bounty and returned to his lodge.

That evening, the Creator came to the warrior and told him to take care of the garden, sharing the fruits of his labour with his people.  And so on the fourth morning, after being awakened by the Creator, the warrior harvested the field.  Later that evening when everyone in the village was asleep, the warrior placed food at the doors of each lodge.

On the fifth morning, the Creator woke the warrior with a start, telling him that the plants needed to be protected from Crow, Racoon, Rabbit and Fox.  As he left the lodge, the heat from the Moon of Much Heat (August) hit him and he chased away Crow, Raccoon, Rabbit and Fox.  He harvested more food and shared this with the people as well.

The sixth morning found the warrior awakened by the Creator who warned him that he had to harvest what was left of the bounty in the field as Winter was coming quickly again.  The warrior stepped out of the lodge and felt the coolness of the Moon of Harvest (September).  He hurried and harvested all the food which was plentiful as the garden had produced a great deal of food.  At the end of the day, he shared the food with the people in the village again.

On the seventh day, the Creator told the warrior, “Till up the garden and leave the plants for the four-leggeds and the birds of the sky.  Then hunt so that you have meat.  You must be done with the hunt and drying of meat by dusk for the Moon of Hard Frost comes at the end of this day and tomorrow you will find yourself in the Moon of Much Cold again.” 

Without question, the warrior did as the Creator had told him to do.  As the day drew to a close, the warrior was more tired than he remembered ever being before but he set aside time to be grateful for what the Creator had given him and he thanked Him for the miracle of the 7 days that had passed.

And as told to him, all was as the Creator said it would be the next morning. But the Creator had more to share with the warrior and his people. 

He came to the warrior and the people at sunrise and said, “Warrior, you have done well following my words and giving back to the people.  I am always here and a part of who you are.  Be happy for what you have when you have it for there may be days when it may not be there for you and it may never be there for you again.  Always take care of the people.” 

The warrior took these words to heart as did the people.

When times turn cold and you believe all is gone, do not be afraid.  I will always give the people the time of another warmth so they may gather just a bit more food to make it through the cold.  Make this time a time of great happiness and sharing, and it is to be known as Little Summer.”

It is said that the people no longer feared the Moon of the Hard Frost after that because they knew the joy of Little Summer would soon follow.

When the white men found the people and were told of this Little Summer, the white men chose to call this time after the people and it became known as “Indian Summer.”

Posted in Ancient Civilizations, Idioms from the 18th Century, North American Indian | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

White Out (as in “weather conditions”)

Posted by Admin on June 7, 2011

White out is the first comic book written by novelist Greg Rucka that tells the story of US Marshal Carrie Stetko’s investigation of a murder in Antarctica. A sequel, “White out: Melt” tells the story of the theft of hidden nuclear weapons from an ex-Soviet base. 

However, when someone talks about a white out, what they are referring to is the loss of daylight visibility in heavy fog, snow, or rain, or changing or deleting something that has been previously put forth as a statement, or something that has been published or printed.

As it pertains to weather, back on February 27, 2004 the South Wales Echo published a news story entitled, “Enjoy it, it won’t last!”  The story included this:

Anyone who remembers the great white-outs of the early ’60s and ’80s knows exactly how real snow can seriously affect our lives. Those were the days when entire communities were cut off from the rest of the world for days, if not weeks. There is no doubt parts of Wales have been badly hit by the sudden Arctic snap.  It’s caused chaos on the roads and will no doubt hit businesses.

A year earlier on February 3, 2003 London’s The Mirror published a story about snowstorms in Scotland in a story entitled, “Blizzard Warning.”  It stated:

Scotland was braced for yet more bad weather last night as high winds and snow swept across the country.  Heavy snow showers and drifts caused chaos for motorists yesterday with some roads hit by dangerous white-outs. Drivers had to deal with minor crashes and tailbacks all across the country.

Canada is not unfamiliar with the concept of white outs and transferred the concept to sports in 1987 when the Winnipeg Jets organization asked fans to wear white during the Stanley Cup playoffs as a response to the Calgary Flames’ request that their fans create a “C of Red.”  The Jets won against the Flames that year and the White Out became a home playoff tradition even after the team had relocated to Phoenix.

On January 15, 1956 the Miami News carried Associated Press journalist Saul Pett‘s account of his adventure accompanying aerial explorers on a trip over the South Pole.  The article was engaging and included this commentary:

We are now 20 minutes away from the pole and still in the whiteout.  In an hour and a half, we are due to reach the towering coastal peaks.  We are still 900 miles from the base and we have been burning gas heavily all day fighting headwinds and overcast and whiteouts on the way out.

We are now flying at an altitude of 11,000 feet above sea level but the radar shows a high polar plateau only about 1,500 feet below us.  Nobody on the plane seems worried by the continuing whiteout.  Except me.  I keep thinking what had been told me many times — that if the plane were forced to land on a high plateau our chances of survival would depend largely on our ability to walk.

In 1846 a blizzard meant a cannon shot and during the Civil War a blizzard meant a volley of musketry.  However, the German settlers in Iowa and Virginia oftentimes described severe sudden winter storms with drifting and poor visibility with the phrase “der sturm kommt blitzartig” which means “the storm comes lightning like.”  The transition from blitzartig to blizzard was a natural progression.

In fact, the Northern Vindicator newspaper of Esterville, Iowa used the word “blizzard” between 1860 and 1870 to describe such snowstorms.  It stands to reason that since the word blizzard was easily understood in newspaper stories of 1860 that the term was in use in the western USA as it pertains to weather much earlier than 1860.

Unfortunately, Idiomation was unable to locate when the expression white out as associated with weather was first used.  That it should be used so casually in 1956 suggests it was a colloquialism in use in years leading up to the 1956 article by Saul Pett, and at least from the previous generation, placing the expression in the 1930s at the very least.

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