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    Exceeding Bush's Attention Span

    bush_decider.jpgQuote:  “Ex-cop and ex-con help sexy customs agent indict money launderer.  Two fine performances, both by cars.”  TV listing for 2 Fast 2 Furious in the New York Times.

    Figure of Speech: paraprosdokian (para-pros-DOK-ian), the surprise ending.  Also chleuasmos (clu-AS-mos), damning through faint praise.  Also epiphonema (e-pih-pho-NEE-ma), the memorable summary.

    Slate  astutely judges the Times’s TV listings to be the paper’s best writing.  (Review of Before and After:  “New England couple’s son charged with murder.  Needs more in between.”)  We especially love the Times’s capsule on 2 Fast 2 Furious, because it achieves a trifecta of figures.  The paraprosdokian starts with a bland clause or cliche (“Two fine performances…”), then hits you upside the head with an unexpected follow-up (“both by cars.”) The chleuasmos (“taunt”) slings an insult via ironic flattery; it damns through faint praise of cars.

    Finally, the epiphonema captures an argument in a short, pithy summary.  Nostalgists lament the decline in readers’ attention spans, but the ancients were crazy about the witty one-liner.  They would have loved the Four Word Film Review.  (Superman Returns:  “Superman stalks Lane family.”  The Devil Wears Prada:  “Wolf in Streep’s clothing.”)

    How about a site that summarizes political issues in four words? (Stem cells: Amoebas, or midget humans?) Oh, wait.  The media already do that.

    Snappy Answer:  New York Times:  Lousy reporting, great TV.

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    Reader Comments (6)

    I love it. What other political issues can you squeeze down to four words? the stem cell one was a fine start!
    July 26, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDorothy
    Abortion: Bods or dead babies?

    Gun control: Constitutional gun-slinging.

    Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Toodle-oo caribou.
    July 26, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    Iraq: Broke it, leave it?
    China: Most Favored Trading Enemy?
    North Korea: Madman targets San Fran? Six talk, Kim walks?
    Power Outages: Chilling rooms blow fuses.
    July 30, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDoc L
    <tsk> Missile Madman targets Japan.
    July 30, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDoc L
    Very nice, Doc. You could work for the Daily News.
    July 31, 2006 | Registered CommenterFigaro
    Thanks for the compliment, Figaro, but...

    Daily News: Good journalism? Yo, fugghedaboutit!
    August 2, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDoc L

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