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Time to get raw

I was at the Sarasota Film Festival a few weeks ago to screen my short film, and came across a feature documentary in competition called Supercharge Me: 30 Days Raw. The film is director Jenna Norwood's answer to Morgan Spurlock's seminal Supersize Me, but in it she embarks on a diet considerably less familiar to most of us than what's available on McDonald's Super Value Menu: that of the raw foodist. Now, we're all familiar with the basic tenets of vegeterianism, and some of us with what it means to be a vegan. But what exactly does raw mean? Well, to put it simply: not cooked. Here's the reasoning, at least according to Wikipedia:

* Raw foods have higher nutrient values than foods which have been cooked.

* Raw foods contain enzymes which greatly aid in their own digestion, freeing the body's own enzymes to do the work unimpeded of regulating all the body's many metabolic processes. Heating food degrades or destroys these enzymes in food, putting the onus on the body's own enzyme production.
* Raw foods contain bacteria and other micro-organisms that stimulate the immune system and enhance digestion by populating the digestive tract with beneficial flora.

Yum ... beneficial digestive tract flora. Of course, as with any radical diet, there's considerable controversy out there: some say that certain raw vegetables, when consumed in great quantities, can be toxic; others argue that humans have been cooking food with fire for at least 350,000 years, which negates any claim that cooked food is somehow unnatural. Regardless, I've been considering trying it for a week just to see if it has any effect on my energy level. If I do, I'll certainly blog about it. What do you guys think?

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How Do You Stress the Word: THANKSgiving or ThanksGIVing?
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iStock

Here’s something else to stress about for Thanksgiving: where to put the stress in the word Thanksgiving.

If you’re from California, Iowa, or Delaware, you probably say ThanksGIVing, with the primary stress on the second syllable. If you’re from Georgia, Tennessee, or the Texas Panhandle, you probably say THANKSgiving, with the primary stress on the first syllable.

This north-south divide on syllable stress is found for other words like umbrella, guitar, insurance, and pecan. However, those words are borrowed from other languages (Italian, Spanish, French). Sometimes, in the borrowing process, competing stress patterns settle into regional differences. Just as some borrowed words get first syllable stress in the South and second syllable stress in the North, French words like garage and ballet get first syllable stress in the UK and second syllable stress in the U.S.

Thanksgiving, however, is an English word through and through. And if it behaved like a normal English word, it would have stress on the first syllable. Consider other words with the same noun-gerund structure just like it: SEAfaring, BAbysitting, HANDwriting, BULLfighting, BIRDwatching, HOMEcoming, ALMSgiving. The stress is always up front, on the noun. Why, in Thanksgiving alone, would stress shift to the GIVE?

The shift to the ThanksGIVing pronunciation is a bit of a mystery. Linguist John McWhorter has suggested that the loss of the stress on thanks has to do with a change in our concept of the holiday, that we “don’t truly think about Thanksgiving as being about thankfulness anymore.” This kind of thing can happen when a word takes on a new, more abstract sense. When we use outgoing for mail that is literally going out, we are likely to stress the OUT. When we use it as a description of someone’s personality ("She's so outgoing!"), the stress might show up on the GO. Stress can shift with meaning.

But the stress shift might not be solely connected to the entrenchment of our turkey-eating rituals. The thanksGIVing stress pattern seems to have pre-dated the institution of the American holiday, according to an analysis of the meter of English poems by Mark Liberman at Language Log. ThanksGIVing has been around at least since the 17th century. However you say it, there is precedent to back you up. And room enough to focus on both the thanks and the giving.

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Watch Boris Karloff's 1966 Coffee Commercial
TAKWest, Youtube
TAKWest, Youtube

Horror legend Boris Karloff is famous for playing mummies, mad scientists, and of course, Frankenstein’s creation. In 1930, Karloff cemented the modern image of the monster—with its rectangular forehead, bolted neck, and enormous boots (allegedly weighing in at 11 pounds each)—in the minds of audiences.

But the horror icon, who was born 130 years ago today, also had a sense of humor. The actor appeared in numerous comedies, and even famously played a Boris Karloff look-alike (who’s offended when he’s mistaken for Karloff) in the original Broadway production of Arsenic and Old Lace

In the ’60s, Karloff also put his comedic chops to work in a commercial for Butter-Nut Coffee. The strange commercial, set in a spooky mansion, plays out like a movie scene, in which Karloff and the viewer are co-stars. Subtitles on the bottom of the screen feed the viewer lines, and Karloff responds accordingly. 

Watch the commercial below to see the British star selling coffee—and read your lines aloud to feel like you’re “acting” alongside Karloff. 

[h/t: Retroist]

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