Category Archives: Culture

Double Spacing and the Legacy of Roy Hobbs


Roy HobbsSomehow, a satirical article author Hugh Howey shared that I reposted on Gas Station Burrito Facebook and initially forgot all about became my most seen and commented on post pretty much ever. There’s about four people who regularly like things I post (and I’m one of them) so when the reach exceeds 1000 people and a few days later there are still comments popping up on it, that’s a pretty solid performance.

It seems to be a rather divisive topic too. Check out the original article and let me know what you think. Most of the comments were people asserting that they were, in fact, still alive, which I take to mean they are still double spacing after a period and take great offense to the author’s presumption all double spacers have died out with Roy Hobbs.

Personally, the double space as a habit pops up more so when I’m typing on a keyboard. Sadly, most of my writing these days is done on my phone simply as a matter of convenience.  I write in very, very short bursts when I can, since like most of you, I’m usually doing twelve other things. When I end a sentence therefore and hit the space bar twice on my phone, it will insert a period and single space before auto-capitalizing for next sentence. The old double space isn’t an problem for then, but if I’m typing on a keyboard, I’m constantly going back to delete unnecessary spaces.

And they are unnecessary.  There’s an entire Wikipedia entry devoted the history, evolution and misconceptions of the double space.  Its a riveting story; Amazon already bought the rights to it, so extra spacing should be exclusive to Prime members soon. You can debate it all you like, but despite your Facebook comments, civilized society has established the rules of the new world order of typesetting already. Quite a while ago, actually. According to the Complete Manual on Typography from 2003, “The typewriter tradition of separating sentences with two word spaces after a period has no place in typesetting” and the single space is “standard typographic practice”.

The Elements of Typographic Style from around the same time also advocates a single space between sentences. They also said, “your typing as well as your typesetting will benefit from unlearning this quaint [double spacing] Victorian habit”.

In the cutthroat world of typography that may be about as close to a mic drop as it gets.

So for anyone clinging to their double spaces, now you’ll have to adjust your monocle and yell, “Take that, Reginald!” every time you maniacally double space.

Despite the typographic mic drop and the fact that the Daily Mash article was a joke, (and that Roy Hobbs is not real) the debate over redundant spacing rages on and certainly isn’t limited to one grammatical/typographic quirk. Several people saw fit to drag the Oxford comma into it, although there’s no word on what Roy Hobbs had to say on that matter.

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Harper Lee Estate Sues Sorkin Stage Production of ‘Mockingbird’

Atticus Finch, To Kill a MockingbirdThe estate of Harper Lee, managed by Tonja Carter, is suing the stage production of “To Kill a Mockingbird” that is being produced by Scott Rubin and Aaron Sorkin.

The lawsuit alleges that the production deviates too much from the novel in regards to the portrayal of Atticus Finch, who begins the play as an apologist for the racism around him and evolves into the righteous man the world knows from Lee’s original novel and the film adaptation starring Gregory Peck.

What makes the argument the estate puts forward so ridiculous is how much the “sequel”, ‘Go Set a Watchman’, deviated from the original novel in regards to the portrayal of Atticus Finch, who is a segregationist and believes the Supreme Court acted too hastily in granting rights to African Americans.

Apparently such deviations of character are only allowed when Carter is facilitating the release of that material. Perhaps if the producers offered Carter—I mean, the Lee estate—a larger royalty, a lawsuit might be unnecessary.

Explaining the changes in character, Aaron Sorkin said, “As far as Atticus and his virtue goes, this is a different take on Mockingbird than Harper Lee’s or Horton Foote’s. He becomes Atticus Finch by the end of the play, and while he’s going along, he has a kind of running argument with Calpurnia, the housekeeper, which is a much bigger role in the play I just wrote. He is in denial about his neighbors and his friends and the world around him, that it is as racist as it is, that a Maycomb County jury could possibly put Tom Robinson in jail when it’s so obvious what happened here. He becomes an apologist for these people.”

harper_lee_nov07From that explanation and having watched Sorkin-penned arguments throughout “A Few Good Men” and seven seasons of “The West Wing” (not to mention the letter Sorkin wrote to his daughter on the election of Donald Trump), I’m eager to see the evolution and on-stage transformation of a man when faced with racism and forced to recognize it for the debilitating evil it is.

How relevant that scenario is now, that he should be given and takes full advantage of the opportunity to discuss it with a person of color. That this person person of color is Calpurnia, a black woman in his employ, should make the conversation even more meaningful. This woman, who is considered socially beneath him and dependent on Atticus for her livelihood, needs to educate and elevate him. However, it shouldn’t be lost on the audience that it is Atticus, and the entire Finch family, for that matter, who depend on Calpurnia for all their needs. How meaningful would it be to recognize that finally in this stage production and rightly attribute Atticus’ strong moral compass to the woman who set it on course?

It seems to have taken the framework of the novel and adapted it to fit with the major themes of our current world. And isn’t that what keeps theater so vibrant? The freedom and fluidity to adapt stories to fit a contemporary lens? To make a historical struggle relevant to what we may come face to face with today?

In doing so, Sorkin has embraced the spirit of “Go Set a Watchman” in that where Atticus himself wanted to break down Scout’s version of him as a flawless ideal and show her he was a man as faulty as any other.  So does Sorkin’s Atticus begin as the imperfect man. In this version he is allowed to evolve and to demonstrate for the audience that we are all flawed and bigoted, whether intentionally or by privilege. But it is in confronting that ignorance, questioning it, arguing it and speaking the uncomfortable truths as Atticus and Calpurnia allegedly do, that we can grow closer to the ideal that Atticus Finch has always represented since “To Kill a Mockingbird” was first published in 1962.

Reflecting on National Walkout Day

“I have never let my schooling

interfere with my education.”

—Mark Twain

Regardless of your politics, your allegiances or your stance on guns, we should all recognize the importance of this act by students across the country.

I hope we can all take a moment today, if not more, and watch those who are marching, walking out, pouring from their schools and classrooms to protest against those who have refused to listen. Watch them, hear them, listen to what they are begging for. Do not dismiss them.

Do not dismiss that the role of education and the point of our schools and teachers is to teach the next generation to think for themselves, to recognize problems and discover solutions; to act in a way that will spur the evolution of our culture and society.

Do not dismiss these protests or infer they are the temper tantrums of children while criticizing those same individuals as spoiled kids who expect things to be handed to them. They are refusing to let their schooling and the failures of the school system and the politicians meant to advance it define their education any longer.

Do not dismiss this protest or those to come. Do not dismiss this generation that you have created.

Do not dismiss this moment…

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