I suppose it was inevitable that the 2018 post-apocalyptic horror film A Quiet Place, which was shot on a relatively small budget and subsequently made a boatload of money, would require a sequel. And so it has come to pass that A Quiet Place Part II will open in theaters in March. (Tiny spoiler: There’s more out there than the noise-hating creatures.)
As I watched the trailer I started thinking about (a) the unimaginativeness of the title, which suggests an unimaginative sequel; and (b) how popular the word place is in movie and television titles. And it isn’t just a recent fad: the trend goes back decades.
What are the odds? Whether through coincidence or cosmic convergence, two new novels with nearly identical titles—The Revisioners and The Revisionaries—are being published within a single 30-day period this autumn.
I haven’t yet read either of the books, but I am interested in title trends (read my Medium story about book titles here), and this one is especially intriguing. Sexton’s book is about women, race, and the stories told in families; Moxon’s is about a street preacher, a mental patient, and a religious cult. (And yes, I noted the other coincidence: both authors have an X in their surnames.) What is it, I wonder, about revision that appeals so strongly right now to two writers with such different interests and approaches? And not just those two writers: I see revisionist and revisionary cropping up regularly in popular culture.
I’ve been watching The Boys on Amazon Prime, and along with enjoying the clever conceit (superheroes as corrupt bad guys controlled by an evil mega-corporation) and the dash of Brit slang and swearing (shufti, dekko, chuffed, lots of casual cunts), I’ve been thinking about the title. The show is based on a graphic-novel series that I’ve never read, and maybe “boys” is more overtly explained there, but on the show we’re left to infer that The Boys are the good-guy squad, even though one of their number is a young woman.
They aren’t the only capital-B Boys trending in popular-culture titles right now. Although less robust than the ongoing Girl/Girls title phenomenon (see my posts from 2015 and from 2018), “Boy/Boys” is still a trendlet worth noting.
The news that Tiny Pretty Things, the 2016 YA novel about ballet students by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton, is being made into a 10-episode Netflix series sent me into a free-association reverie.
“Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars.” – Amazon. The sequel (2017) is titled Shiny Broken Pieces.
It’s been almost five years since I wrote about a branding trend I’d noticed: names that began with Ever. There were the classics: Eveready batteries, Everlast sporting goods, Everclear knockout alcohol. There were the new Evers on the block: Everlane for fashion, Evercharge for EV charging (get it?), Everplans for death planning, Evernote for note-taking, Eversnap for photos, Evergage and Everspin for … something else.
Half a decade later, the trend is still trundling along. Exhibit Umpteen is a new restaurant, or restaurant concept—it won’t open till 2020—called simply Ever. Or, more precisely, “Curtis Duffy’s Ever,” Duffy being the Chicago chef who’s opening the joint with general manager Michael Muser. The New York Times food section published a breathless preview this week that included this tidbit about the name:
It would have the best china, they said, the best furniture ever. They’d use ingredients that were fresher, more seasonal than they ever had before. They’d make a meal more elaborate than anyone had ever seen.
Ever: That word just kept coming up. So, they decided, that would be the name.
“It’s this little word, this little four-letter thing that we pack into the most epic experiences of our lives,” Mr. Muser said in a phone interview. “This experience, that we’re going to put in front of everybody, this is our Ever.”
The Ever wordmark, which could be recycled into a drugstore perfume label if the whole $300-to-$500-tasting-menu thing doesn’t work out.
In my latest column for the Visual Thesaurus, I take a deep dive into deep, a word with a surprisingly tenacious hold on our shallow 21st-century minds. Deepfake, deep state, deep learning, Deep Throat: whether we want to convey complexity or mystery, we turn to a word with deep roots in the English language.
“Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey,” a series of deadpan, slightly surrealistic epigrams, originated on National Lampoon and became a recurring feature on Saturday Night Live between 1991 and 1998. Handey maintains a Deep Thoughts website with merch and a Deep Thought of the Day. Sample: “Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them and you have their shoes.”
Full access to the column is restricted to subscribers. Here’s a taste:
I’m stepping away from my desk until the middle of next week, so I’ll leave you with links to some of my recent (and in the case of the Visual Thesaurus, not-so-recent but finally un-paywalled) writing.