June 19, 2005

Tossed fussily

Some more odds and ends, for a lazy Sunday.

***

Dined last night with three fine friends (you know who you are) and a cutie (you know who you are as well) at a renowned Bombay place-to-be-seen. I wander off to the poky little loo for a leak. I'm there by my ownsome at one of the two urinals, minding my business, and am startled half out of my skin by a booming voice that seems right at my shoulder. "What're you doing, watching a movie?" asks the voice.

I turn around, ready to say "No ... I'm, you know, peeing?" -- I mean, what did he expect in this place? -- and find I'm face-to-face with a large salt-and-pepper bearded man. He's waddling into the loo, paying no attention to me. He's speaking into a cellphone. Why loud enough that he doesn't need it, I don't know.

Back at our table, I pick up the menu. One item on it catches my eye, and here it is, in full and verbatim:
    Spirelli Posto: fussily tossed with pesto and fresh tomato sauce, mushrooms, peas and shallots.

I have spent the 24 hours since wondering how you might toss something -- anything -- "fussily." Any ideas out there? More important, I am considering going back and asking if I can watch the chef toss stuff "fussily."

***

Always with great interest and joy, I read a small community magazine that comes out every month. This is the kind of publication where you will find notices about births
and marriages and someone graduating Phi Betta Kappa from Harvard University, that kind of thing; also articles about someone's trip to Shirdi and Las Vegas. You know.

The latest issue has its share of such tasty morsels. Among them is this, complete with photograph of the person in question (and again, this is full and verbatim except with names changed):
    Mandira Shankar Vasu has secured 95 out of 100 in Maths and 93 out of 100 in Science in the annual 5th standard examination of St Clovis Convent in Andheri (E) and has been promoted to the 6th standard. In previous years too, she had secured 100 % marks in many subjects. Mandira is the favourite student of many teachers and has taken part in several extra-curricular activities.

That's right, the 5th standard.

***

You Bombaykars have no doubt seen the many ads for the new paper, Mumbai Mirror. I mean the ones that look like words torn out from newsprint and together in scrapbook fashion, saying such things as "Cut For You" and "Cut the Faff" and so forth.

Something about one of these ads caught my eye the other day, and I've been looking at them more closely since. It's the words around the edges of the supposed bits of newsprint. Now I would have expected them to be some random English words. But no. These are in Latin, it looks like. Really.

Here are a few examples I've seen again and again on these ads: auqua, auctor, elementum, sapien, eu, nulla, Pellenesque, convallis, lectus.

Very intriguing. What's going on here? Let's face it, it isn't likely the ad agency guys found Latin newsprint to make these things up from. Which means they deliberately printed these "words" there. Why? Is this some elaborate joke that only guys in the know will get?

6 comments:

Leela said...

Um.. in case you weren't joking about 'fusilly', it's Fusilli (spiral pasta). In case you were, ok, the joke's on me.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Leela, I had no clue that "fusilli" is a pasta, spiral or not! And in any case, it was spelled "fussily". Never mind, I sort of like the idea of a chef tossing things fussily...

Sriram said...

Actually, Dilip, you were reading the menu "fussily" - linguistically speaking!

Suresh said...

In fact, if Seinfeld was ever shown in India, you'd come across probably the most famous piece of fusilli: "Fusilli Jerry"...

Dilip D'Souza said...

Is "linguisticali" also a pasta? What about "probabli"?

Hari Menon said...

It's faux Latin. The words you see are all picked at random from the "Lorem ipsum" dummy text used by the printing and typesetting industry since 1500 or therabouts. Incidentally, I think you misspelled "Pellentesque". :)

The name "Lorem ipsum" is derived from the first two words of the text, which goes: "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Phasellus ante arcu, imperdiet a, gravida eu, consequat ac, diam. Morbi eget felis. Phasellus feugiat hendrerit..." etc.

But why use Lorem ipsum as a placeholder? It's known that readers tend to be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout, so random text that has a more-or-less normal distribution of letters is preferred. This makes the passages look like readable English, while the lack of linguistic sense prevents the reader from being distracted.

As to why the agency felt moved to use nonsensical dummy text in an ad for Mumbai Mirror, your guess is as good as mine. I can make some tongue-in-cheek speculations, but I shall refrain!