CMXtraneous: Using the Web

Right on the edge of useful

Googling for Eggcorns

Posted Saturday, February 05, 2005 8:55:31 AM by Kim

If you share my love of language you may already know about the Language Log blog where cunning linguists discuss the English language and all its wild and wacky usages. Really. And besides, any serious linguist who is also a Dave Barry fan can't be all that dull, right?

Today as I was scanning the blog a story caught my educator's eye, a study done in the UK that maintains that teaching grammar is a waste of time. OK, that looks like a yawner, but reading down further I was amused by something that the blogger mentions.  How certain phrases get butchered in common usage and become something much more funny that the writer or speaker intended. Chris Lieberman coined the phrase "eggcorns" in honor of a woman who wrote eggcorns when she meant to say acorns.

Still yawning? OK, stay with me here. The fun part of this comes when you turn to Google and look for examples of the mis-statements and mis-spokements as they're archived on-line. In today's example the author referred to teaching (and learning) grammar as being "dull as dishwater" (given) and then searched for that phrase on Google with some eggcorns in mind, for dull as dirtwater. Some other more entertaining examples can be found at this post from last year where common eggcorns are sought out. It's amazing how many examples of this type of thing can be found archived and squirreled away. "Star craving mad", "deep seeded ignorance", and of course, everyone's favorite "self-defecating sense of humor".

OK, OK, maybe there are only 342 people in the entire world that enjoy these, but count me among the chosen few. It might have all started when I had a student who claimed that she couldn't find many good references on-line for Martin Luther King while doing a research project. Turns out that when I checked her search terms she was actually looking for Martian Luther King--you know, the famous inter-planetary civil rights leader. Google lists 15,200 hits for that phrase, including, at number two, free essays that students can help themselves to on-line.

Category tags: Using the Web

Why I love Google & Alta Vista...

Posted Thursday, February 03, 2005 4:42:16 PM by Chris Flick

Chris Flick

Okay... so there I am this morning opening my FREE CommunityMX newsletter as it pops up in my e-mail client of choice (Entourage) when I scroll down to the part about "Our Spidey Senses Are Tingling". Of course, being a big comic book nut since high school, this immediately catches my attention. Then, I click on the link and one thought races through my mind:


You see, I'm a member of various list groups or forums devoted to comic books and/or comic book art. I also have a subscription to Wizard magazine which keeps me up to date on just about anything happening in the comic book field. Yet, this one got by me completely.

Now, some of you may be asking how Marvel and Corbis teaming up can help you and, honestly, I can't say. Your individual projects will determine that. And really, I'm interested in seeing how this progresses because "back in the day", any advertisements using Marvel characters usually only appeared in Marvel comics themselves. For those of you who are old enough, you might remember the old Hostess ads in the back of your favorite Avengers or Captain America comic book you read as a kid. Those usually were done by "bullpen artists" that were on staff at Marvel. These "bullpen artists" generally weren't published artists themselves or they might have been responsible for doing tasks regular artists didn't have time to do - such as draw backgrounds and such. Occasionally though, a "name" artist - such as Neal Adams - would do an ad but that was rare.

So how this partnership between Corbis and Marvel - and how it affects the commercial advertising industry - will be interesting to watch. For me though, I have a much more personal interest in this particular team-up. As a traditional-based illustrator and cartoonist, I have yet another valuable source of reference material I can draw from. Something I can add to my "morgue".

The difference between a county morgue and an artist's morgue..
or why I love Google so much...

When I teach my cartooning classes, I always explain that "in the old days", a lot of illustrators had what they referred to as a "morgue". Basically, this morgue was nothing more then a file cabinet with tons of reference material. It would consists of newspaper clippings, magazine pages, or maybe even photos taken by the artist himself. And, depending on how organized that particular artist was, he (or she) might have folders totally devoted to nothing but "eyes" or "feet" or "hands". You get the idea.

But these days, thanks to search engines like Alta Vista and Google, artist's morgues are quickly becoming a thing of the past. At least my own personal morgue hasn't been used in years. These days, if I have a need to draw - say, a masked wrestler... perhaps even a Canadian masked wrestler with moose antlers on his mask that goes by the name of "The Nuclear Moose" - I can just go to Alta Vista or Google, click on the "image" link and type in "masked wrestlers" and I can get a variety of photos of masked wrestlers taken over the years. I can then use these photos as a source of inspiration when designing and illustrating my Nuclear Moose.

So how does this whole Corbis / Marvel thing come into play?

Well, as I mentioned before, it gives me another source of reference to draw off of. I can't tell you how many times I've been asked to draw someone in a Captain America, Dr. Doom or Iron Man outfit. Now, I could easily pull out my big box of comics and slowly go through them until I found what I was looking for but who has time for that? Now, all I have to do is go to Corbis and search the Marvel archives until I find the character I need and see what his (or her) costume is supposed to look like.

Isn't the internet great?

Category tags: CMX Suite, Community MX, On the Personal Side, This and That, Using the Web