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"Doing Absolutely Nothing for Over 35 Years."

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The Holy Grail Press is dedicated to promoting work that standard publishers... you know, those with standards, might be reluctant to publish, which pretty much leaves poetry.  And let's face it:  No one publishes poetry.  So in the end, we’re left with a lot of free time.

 

 

 

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Today in Grammar

February 4, 1895:  The Semi-colon.

 

As early as 1895, after coming off the disappointing loss of the dash to rival Gutwald Buetterstrapp*, Erstl von Hemholtz had confided in his longtime confident and friend, Über Nuebergen-Meinsterhoffenschlager that he was experimenting with something radical, “a mix... no, a combination... of a comma and a period...” what he was calling a “sort-of-comma.”  Convinced that punctuation wasn’t confusing enough, he began stacking punctuation on top of each other in the summer of 1883, while vacationing in the Alps.  Early attempts had him placing the comma on top of the period, but, as he stated in a letter to Nuebergen-Meinsterhoffenschlager, “I feel the period holds the comma down.  Without the period, the comma would rise much higher and take on a life of its own.”  It wouldn’t be until 1903 that von Hemholtz would finally let the comma rise and shock the entire world with the invention of the apostrophe.  But for now Hemholtz was mired in what he called his “stacking phase.”  He confessed once again to Nuebergen-Meinsterhoffenschlager that he “liked the symmetry” of one period stacked on another, but went on to state that he couldn’t “really see any purpose in such a thing.”  It would be another eight years, also in 1903, before he would resurrect the colon, commenting at the time, “I was wrong all along in thinking I needed a purpose.”

It was on February 4, 1895, while attending a reception at Baron von Yamanstiffer’s, while “watching another guest become violently ill after eating spoiled clams,” that it came to him.

Writing to Nuebergen-Meinsterhoffenschlager, Hemholtz stated, “It was there all along; I just needed to put the period on top of the comma!”  It wasn’t until that following summer, at the World Grammar Convention in Berlin, that Hemholtz introduced to the world what he had now come to call the “semi-colon.”  When asked by colleagues what the purpose of such a thing was, Hemholtz answered, “Purpose?  Why, it has no purpose.  It does absolutely nothing.”  In what Hemholtz later wrote in his autobiography as his finest moment, he received a standing ovation that lasted “a full twelve minutes.”  It is still a point of academic debate how Hemholtz could’ve invented the semi-colon before he truly invented the colon.

 

 

 

 

*  Whereas researchers such as Le Heungh in Paris and Armorwald, who had begun a movement to establish the English equivalent of L’academie du Français in London, believed that there should be no appreciative difference between the hyphen (which had been introduced at the 1878 World Grammar Convention by Fregelmeyer in Oslo to overwhelming approval), and the proposed dash (which Hemholtz claimed to have envisioned as early as 1872), Hemholtz had been convinced that a dash should be considerably longer “to prevent certain confusion.”  Early prototypes by Hemholtz were over three inches long.  Stated Hemholtz, “Let’s see you confuse that baby with a hyphen.”  Finding such a length cumbersome, it was Buetterstrapp, in 1885, who came up with the idea of “simply doubling the stupid thing.”

7:48 am pst 

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Senator Leonard K. Bullfinch Newletter

My Fellow Americans,

I come to you today with truly nothing to say, but that doesn’t stop me from saying it anyway.  You see, I believe in always put forth the image that we’re getting something done, when in fact we can’t even decide on what we want for lunch.  And indeed, isn’t that the American way?  Why, if we came right out and admitted that we were doing nothing, then people would expect something, and what would we have then?  Things would get done.  Pretty soon, we’d all learn how to get along.  Next thing you know, it’d be like Star Trek – the original series, mind you.  Everybody walking around with nothing better to do than to get smarter.  You know what I call that?  Unemployment.  My constituants have told me time and again that all they are truly interested in are jobs.  Therefore, I’m going to do my best to insure that nothing really gets done for the sake of our country.  Now, you may say that I’m actually doing nothing, but them college professors once told me that nothing is a truly something.   I never understood what that meant until now.  Whereas it is possible, and even desireable, for me to do as little as possible, unfortunately, for the average citizen that just wouldn’t be possible.  After all, if nobody worked, then there’s nobody paying taxes, and I wouldn’t be getting paid, so I would have to do something, and as you can see, it all starts over again.  And we wouldn’t want that.  Therefore, I would like to thank you for your time today, and assure you that equally as pointless memeoranda will be issued regularly in the future.

Doing His Part for America:

Senator Leonard P. Bullfinch, at-large

7:13 pm pst 

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

We're Back!
After coming home early from vacation for good behaviour, the Holy Grail Press is up and running again.  Recent updates include our new Presidents tab, and more Bullfinch, Lunatic Monologues, and Why I Hate My Job.  Also, there is a guest essay by Kelli Cole in Zombies, as well as several new plays under Published Plays.
11:33 am pst 


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And Since You Apparently have Nothing Better to do...

Be sure and visit our sister site,  The Incomplete Guide to American English