December 7, 2022

Jonathan Franzen is not going to try to disinvent Twitter.

From 2015:

I like the part where they're talking about the word "although." Franzen, who loves complicated sentences, says it's hard, on Twitter, to write a sentence with the word "although." Colbert, after blurting out a super-short sentence with the word "although," and getting minor resistance from Franzen, switches to the absurd and asserts that he's always thought the worst name for a clown would be Altho — Altho the Clown.

This unsettles me, because I've be aware for a long time that Altho is a simple, straightforward nickname for Althouse. Can I get people to use it? It's no use! (Get it?)

60 comments:

Quaestor said...

I read the entire post, although I didn't get it.

That's the problem with drollery and badinage -- if you feel the need to ask, getting it isn't enough.

gilbar said...

Altho i'd LIKE to use the phrase you Want us to us; i'm sticking with Professor

RideSpaceMountain said...

"Altho the clown"

Isn't that the creepy horror monster from "It" that hides in sewers, captures children, and kills them with cruel neutrality? Shivers up my spine.

Lurker21 said...

Not exactly Cavett and Mailer or Capote or Vidal. Or maybe Colbert is all the things you might not have liked about Dick Cavett, but Franzen definitely isn't up to the level of the other writers as a conversationalist, or controversialist, or bon vivant ... or writer.

Quaestor said...

Colbert, after blurting out a super-short sentence with the word "although," and getting minor resistance from Franzen, switches to the absurd and asserts that he's always thought the worst name for a clown would be Altho — Altho the Clown.

The secret to excellent wit is to structure your story, your joke, your repartee, what have you, that its logic proceeds to the desired conclusion like a avalanche. Although creates an alternate un-funny path. For example, consider the famous Oscar Wilde bon mot, "There is only one thing worse than being talked about, and that's not being talked about, although I'd prefer my private life with Lord Alfred Douglas was not talked about in any case."

However (there's another one!) Altho the Clown could be outstandingly amusing. He's the clown who prangs his own jokes. Spkie Milligan made a lengthy career out of such spoilage.

The Vault Dweller said...

Can I get people to use it?

You can always try to get the nickname T-Bone. Just let people know you are a T-Bone kind of gal.

Rusty said...

"This unsettles me, because I've be aware for a long time that Altho is a simple, straightforward nickname for Althouse. Can I get people to use it? It's no use! (Get it?)"
Not now because it is going to ever be attached to ,"the Clown".
And I have more respect for you than that. Although. If I can get a laugh out of it I will.

Michael said...

As to Altho as a nickname, it might work if you could get people to pronounce it "alto" or "all-toe" but the "th" in the middle would keep coming out like "the," making it sound like a crude insult pronounced by someone with a lisp.

Kate said...

Altho is two syllables, as is Althouse. Same ease of pronunciation. (Altho sounds like a Marx Bros.) Adding use isn't difficult enough to make the shorter version appealing.

tommyesq said...

Franzen is an awkward speaker, and Colbert comes off as a condescending dick.

Yancey Ward said...

Try T-Bone as a nickname.

Scott M said...

This unsettles me, because I've be aware for a long time that Altho is a simple, straightforward nickname for Althouse.

The simple, straightforward nickname for Althouse is AA, which can, of course, be confused with that infamous group that advocates a ten step program to change lead into gold, Alchemist Anonymous.

TaeJohnDo said...

Don't be a clown, Ann.

Misinforminimalism said...

Twitter hasn't had a 140 character limit for over 5 years. But please, condescend to us more, smart people.

rcocean said...

Alt Ho? Sounds derogatory.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Altho, I do get it, although “can I get people to use it when it’s got no use?” would have been better.

Misinforminimalism said...

Ann, given that "alt" is common internet-speak for "alternative," not sure I'd go with alt-ho as a nickname.

Hunter Biden's tax payer funded Hooker said...

You do not want to be called Alt ho.

Narr said...

Alt-ho. Keep it as Althouse.

Narr said...

Franzen comes across as thoughtful and serious; Colbert comes across as the arrogant partisan hack he has always been.

I didn't see the FOX NFL Sunday quip coming (or get the joke).

Gerda Sprinchorn said...

How do you pronounce "Altho"?

At first glance, I would pronounce the "th" as a dipthong. But in "Althouse", the "th" is not pronounced that way because the syllable break falls between the "t" and the "h". That makes "Altho" hard for people to pronounce who know it is short for "Althhouse".

Butkus51 said...

I still have to go with John Wayne Gacys Pogo the Clown.

How quickly they forget.

Ann Althouse said...

“No use” = remove “use” from the end of Althouse

Rollo said...

Do you really want to be called an old you know what?

Narr said...

No 'use'-- I got it.

Randomizer said...

"This unsettles me, because I've be aware for a long time that Altho is a simple, straightforward nickname for Althouse. Can I get people to use it?"

Professor Althouse, you don't seem like the nickname kind of gal, or a person routinely referred to as "one of the gals". Perhaps it's your abundance of gravitas. If you insist on a nickname, I vote for "T-bone".

Terry di Tufo said...

I had heard that Colbert had given up playing a moron as his act. I was misinformed.

Rollo said...

There was such a campaign 20 years ago to make Franzen a big deal that I had unfunny private joke that french fries were being renamed "Franzen fries."

Quaestor said...

No use.

Much like f(y)=r^3/3.

Perhaps I'll just take the first derivative and go sulk.

wendybar said...

The biggest clown is the guy whose show he went on.

Readering said...

Twitter listened, and 2 years later doubled its character limit.

Fred Drinkwater said...

Remove "use"...
Groan! I'm such an idiot.

Howard said...

Blogger Quaestor said...

I read the entire post, although I didn't get it.

That's the problem with drollery and badinage -- if you feel the need to ask, getting it isn't enough.


Think harder wordboy. I'm still trying to finger out how "trek" is racist. Isn't that the point? Confound and confuse the curious reader to lord over your clever intellect?

Are you now being hoist upon your own Irish Pennants?

Wilbur said...

I've always assumed the name was pronounced "Alt-house", sorta like outhouse (sorry).

And in print, I've always addressed the blog host as "AA", never presuming to call her "Ann", like some others.

Yancey Ward said...

I think you best avoid this nickname- shitheads like me would make it Alt Ho.

Yancey Ward said...

The Vault Dweller,

Small minds think alike!

Howard said...

Could never stomach Colbert. I imagine that's why he's risen to the top. The masses actually enjoy the results of the Peter Principle.

The Vault Dweller said...

@Yancey Ward

Whenever anyone talks about nicknames that person wants it is the first thing that springs to my wind.

John Scott said...

Bill Burr's funniest bits start with the word although.

Michael McNeil said...

Musk has recently tweeted that he's working on increasing the character limit further to (IIRC) 400 characters.

n.n said...

Thank, dad, and dad's dad, now. There are better uses for the nickname, perhaps as a breath mint, or cough drop.

PJ said...

Although it lacks brevity, I always liked Anna-dare.

Rusty said...

Yancey Ward said...
"I think you best avoid this nickname- shitheads like me would make it Alt Ho."
It's already gone through several iterations in my head. None of them complimentary.
Ya maybe should a kept this one under wraps, Ms Ann.

Rollo said...

Colbert is arrogant if he assumes his own thoughts are deeper or more nuanced than 280-word tweets. What after all are comic one liners but tweets?

Similar arrogance made Franzen think that dissing and ditching Oprah gave him gravitas and made him a cultural heavyweight.

mezzrow said...

"When they speak of drollery und badinage, I show them my Tom Lehrer albums." - Me, at the bottom of the stairs.

Ampersand said...

I didn't get much of a feel from the video about what makes Franzen tick. There is quite a bit of envy-based criticism of him in the Amazon reviews of his writing. I regard him as an outstanding story teller. His characters are so original and compelling that they immerse me in the stories he tells. I strongly recommend Crossroads, his latest.

Ann Althouse said...

The syllable break is between "alt" and "house."

Thanks for the suggestion that it's like "outhouse." Never heard that before!

But "alt" isn't pronounced like "out." It's pronounced as "alt" is pronounced in "salt" or "halt" or "malt" or "Walt."

Howard said...

Alt=altitude=high. High House. That makes you elitist. Alt=alternative=hippie dippy. Hippy House. That makes you elitist.

Ann Althouse said...

It’s a German name, Howard. Alt means old.

wildswan said...

I thought for a long time it was Alt-House, meaning alt-thinking went on in it or alt-history was studied. And I thought alt-house was made into one word and capitalized for unknown reasons. Somehow I made my way to the truth. Maybe I read the side bar, though I avoid product manuals and side bars on principle. I read comments tho and so made my way to an explanation of today's house joke.

Big Mike said...

It’s a German name, Howard. Alt means old.

Probably partially anglicized from Althaus. Possibly at Ellis Island. Growing up I knew two guys of Dutch descent named “De Young.” But one was from a family that had anglicized the name somewhere in the past, while other came from a family that retained the original spelling: “De Jong”

Narr said...

The "name-change at Ellis Island" is almost always a myth. The officials at Ellis Island were literate and no strangers to foreign names and languages; besides which nobody arrived at Ellis without some sort of documents, if only a ship boarding pass.

I worked with a guy named Shahusky. It was changed from Swiezjiewski or the like by his father, long after the name got here.



Narr said...

My surname is German, one short and simple syllable. The only thing that changed after the pond-jump was the pronunciation.

Quaestor said...

"It’s a German name, Howard. Alt means old."

For years I believed this was so obvious. Just goes to show how unwarranted unwarranted assumptions can be.

Althouse is an anglicization of a fairly common Germanic surname. What was probably Althaus became Althouse when its owner emigrated from somewhere else -- could be Germany, Frisia, or Sweden -- to North America. What's fairly certain is the somewhere wasn't the British Isles. Before it was old it was eald or eld. And before it was house it was huss. Ealdhuss probably wouldn't evolve into Althouse.

Howard said...

Thanks for clearing that up, Ann. You learn something new every day. Just the other day, my German friend told me about how he had to overcome his innerer schweinehund to come to swim team practice. I tend to embrace it when I come here.

Lem Former Twitter Aficionado said...

I had to read the comments to get it. Thanks.

Quaestor said...

"I'm still trying to [figure] out how 'trek' is racist."

I'll give you two hints.

(1) It's a foreign word, not English. The spelling should make that obvious. English orthography disapproves of Ks at the end of words unless the K is preceded by C. Therefore, it's black rather than blak, it's tick tock rather than tik tok, and it's clocking on her stocking rather than... well, the pattern is clear.

(2) Before Roddenberry, trek was quite uncommon in American English.

Iman said...

althoose is loose in the hoose

Howard said...

I cheated using googler. Afrikaans. I love those guys. I could go for some biltong and Castle right about now.

Quaestor said...

Afrikaans.

It was like pulling teeth, but worth it, I think. (How are the gnashers, by the way? Still firmly rooted, I trust?)

Now, look up the Groot Trek of the late 1830s, which involved quite a bit of fighting between the white settlers and the black Bantus, with the Afrcanners coming out on top. That fact alone makes the whole subject racist according to woke dogma.

Gene Roddenberry was looking for a title for his space opera, something using the idea of a journey without using that much overused word. Eventually, he hit on trek, a rare term in American speech, though more commonly used among the British thanks to their long colonial experience in South Africa.