Daily Archives: 14 April 2007

The only Marxism that will survive is Groucho’s

It’s one thing for mediapersons to have reservations in private about a subject or issue they are covering, and quite another for them to let it show in public. But that’s what the National Union of Journalists has done in Britain. NUJ members have voted to boycott Israeli goods because of the “savage, pre-planned attack on Lebanon by Israel”. Right or wrong? Whom does it help? Will Israel get the message that global condemnation hasn’t conveyed?

Read the full article here: Journalists’ union boycotts “savage” Israel


The snarf who got to the bottom of it all: RIP


Many journalists and writers have made their signature line or phrase all their own. Harold Ross would often insert “So, help me God” in much of his correspondence. A.F.S. Talyerkhan would end his columns with the line, ‘Get me, Steve?”

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr, the American author who died on Wednesday, made the phrase “So it goes” famous.

In his most famous work, Slaughterhouse-Five, Vonnegut wrote:

Robert Kennedy, whose summer home is eight miles from the home I live in all year around was shot two nights ago. He died last night. So it goes. Martin Luther King was shot a month ago. He died, too. So it goes. And every day my Government gives me a count of corpses created by military science in Vietnam. So it goes.”

But his sense of humour and feeling for the word was most obvious in a self-interview he did for Paris Review (No. 69, 1977). In response to one question, Vonnegut said he was once called ‘snarf’ because he was caught smelling his armpit absent-mindedly…

“…Technically I wasn’t really a snarf. A snarf was a person who went around sniffing girls’ bicycle saddles. I didn’t do that. “Twerp” also had a very specific meaning, which few people know now. Through careless usage, “twerp” is a pretty formless insult now.

Interviewer: What is a “twerp” in the strictest sense, in the original sense?

Vonnegut: It’s a person who inserts a set of false teeth between the cheeks of his ass.

Interviewer: I see.

Vonnegut: I beg your pardon; between the cheeks of his or her ass. I’m always offending feminists that way.

Interviewer: I don’t quite understand why someone would do that with false teeth?

Vonnegut: In order to bite the buttons off the back seats of taxicabs. That’s the only reason twerps do it. It’s all that turns them on.

The longest byline in journalism today…

The Kannada humourist YNK (Y.N. Krishnamurthy) used to say that the poet Kuvempu hadn’t named his son Poornachandra Tejaswi—he had “sentenced” him. And in every newspaper and magazine office, there are snide ones about having to continue some bylines on page 16 or having to bastardise the column width to fit a byline because of their length.

But which is the longest byline in journalism?

We have no idea, but here’s Exhibit A for starters. Senthil Chengalvarayan. Thankfully, the managing editor of CNBC-TV18 only uses the last two elemets of his full name. Or else his byline would read… Nammudi Vellasithan Sinnaiah Senthil Chengalvarayan.

That’s 47 letters for you. You would need three columns to display that name fully—or a  50-inch plasma screen.