Saturday, April 09, 2005

Off-Topic Post #224: Why I Love The Asterisk

Few characters in the written word are so versatile. Few characters have the ability to say so much in such a small glyph. Three lines of equal length, crossed at their centers, placed equidistantly around a Z-axis.

My asterisks, because of the font, take a different form, similar to a star. That fact might derail this entire post, but we'll just sweep that little inconsistency under the carpet. And... I have a feeling you won't remember it anyway...

This is the marvel that is the asterisk. Placed at the bottom of a page, an asterisk allows an author to interject and further elaborate on material presented within the body of a piece while still maintaining the continuity of the work.*

Now I’m sure many have noticed that I am quite the utilizer of the asterisk. I like them. They make me feel safe, like a security blanket. Like a security blanket made of asterisks. And also silk. Possibly chocolate. Silky, chocolate asterisks.

There are reasons I use the asterisk more than, say, the tilde (~) or the umlaut/diaeresis (ë). Those particular characters lack the flavorful, literary zest of the asterisk. But mostly, they’re just dumb and stupid, and no one loves them, and no one will be sending them Christmas cards this year. The asterisk will be inundated with Christmas cards this year, and I’ll bet it’ll receive a few holiday fruitcakes as well. People love the asterisk so much they’re going to be sending baked goods to the asterisk on Christmas. The tilde says it’s Jewish and that it doesn’t celebrate Christmas, but I think it’s a front created out of humiliation. It gets no cards. It gets no cards at all.

But let’s get to the specifics. What exactly makes the asterisk so great, besides the fact that it totally kicks ass?

There's no need to be certain of anything. Worried that your material needs "facts" or "a point of view"? An asterisk allows for the most noncommittal of writing. Is this true, or is it the opposite? Why not both?**

It acts as a pit stop for readers. The asterisk allows the reader to take a short break from reading to do some reading. People who read are not having enough words thrown at them at one time. Sure, a page full of words is okay, but I often stop reading in frustration simply because there aren't enough words entering my eyes. Even if for no logical reason at all, the asterisk crams more words onto the page.***

The asterisk will weed out readers who are under the influence of drugs. It sounds far-fetched, I know. But the asterisk has powers -- supernatural powers, really -- beyond its conventional uses. It has the power to identify and subsequently freak out readers who are currently reading your work while on drugs. I'll demonstrate, but not because I want to alienate anyone reading this who may in fact be on drugs. If anything, I want to keep you happy, because your standards are so low. With you, I don't have to work as hard. Because you're on drugs. And everything is funny to you. I could really do anything. Anything at all. Like this...

If I know the drugged audience as well as I think I do, right now they're either laughing uncontrollably, hysterical with fear, or chasing a bouncy ball that just passed into their field of vision. Go! Go get it!

If you're clean, the asterisk below will remain the same the entire time. If you're not clean... well, no one really knows how the asterisk operates. It's rumored to focus in on the fears of each reader individually and exploit those fears. If you fear, say -- oh, I don't know -- Care Bears, then the asterisk will sense that. Or if you fear, say -- again, off the top of my head -- the Quaker Oats guy, the asterisk will sense that as well. So, take a deep breath. Relax. And good luck.

(click on me... I weed out druggies)

* Like this.
** And neither.
*** Like this. See? No reason at all.

Retroactive Epileptic Seizure Warning
For those of you who may suffer from epilepsy, it was probably risky for you to have viewed these animations given their intense and colorfully crazy nature. In retrospect, it would have been better for you to have skipped those crazy seizure-inducing animations. So, let me give you a heads up, a word of warning: You shouldn't have looked at those.


At 6:52 AM, Blogger Edna B said...

A line of asterisks looks remarkably like a stick of black licorice. Oh that's right. We aren't talking about licorice any more.

At 9:27 AM, Anonymous bluescrubber said...

dude: you're on something..give it to me.

At 9:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Argh!! It's Skeletor!!

At 9:50 AM, Blogger Ripsy said...

I am a comma person myself, and I feel the urge to use commas when ever my brain pauses. Luckily, my mind is like a speeding bullet, so it doesn't happen frequently. ,

At 9:58 AM, Blogger omar said...

Me, I'm a fan of the parentheses. (Preferably both, though I do have a soft spot for the right (closing) parenthesis, as it is so often misplaced with respect to other punctuation.) They allow you to insert your opinion where it may not otherwise be appropriate.

You've convinced me that the asterisk is not far behind though. Great blog, I look forward to each new post (mildly look forward to them, not like in an "I have nothing else to do but wait for you to post again" kind of way).

At 10:20 AM, Blogger Charlie said...

Asterisks serve their purpose... but ellipses (...) are my bread and butter. They're the working man's comma.

At 10:42 AM, Blogger Eric Smith said...

You uh, misspelled "drugs" in the last word of the last sentence of the last paragraph of the last post. Of course, no one will knowtis this because they're on dugs.

At 11:29 AM, Blogger Athena said...

< /seizure >

At 12:04 PM, Blogger Perveted minds said...

the asterisk stayed as it was. i gues im clean. btw.. how did u c it?

At 12:56 PM, Blogger Gladys Cortez said...

I, myself, am partial to semi-colons.

If you're willing to share whatever drugs you're on, please let me know.

(a refugee from the Next Blog button--and incidentally, thank you for using vowels when you write.)

At 2:30 PM, Blogger Gordon said...

lets here it for the "\" !!!

At 3:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the plural of "asterisk"? isn't it asterices??

At 3:18 PM, Blogger Unusual Suspect said...

Personally, I feel the tilde is one of the best inventions in modern times. ~Without this modern marvel, how would we make things ~~~jump out~~~ in such a pretty way?~

They're also Useful when signing your name


Though asteriks look wonderful as well


But, the most beautiful display is actually a compromise


At 3:31 PM, Blogger Courtney said...

Oh my gosh! I'm on drugs & I don't even realize I took them! Thank you for showing me the light. Asterisks & kitties saved my life. ***********************************

At 5:13 PM, Blogger jazz said...

only you could have written an entire ode to an asterisk, i swear. i do feel that you haven't given the tilde its fair share. it's really not meant to be alone like that. it makes up part of the spanish alphabet and we're just being ethnocentric here by not recognizing at least that much.

btw, am a big fan of the period. it's to the point, no-nonsense. reading would be a total bitch without it. a sine qua non, so to speak. i relate to the period. it gets me.

At 5:51 PM, Blogger scribe called steff said...

I am presently on drugs.

More importantly, I have a history of epilepsy.

Fortunately, your post left me unscathed. Lucky for you, you interning freak.

But truthfully, I stared long and hard into the beauty of the asterix. Loved that graphic. OoooH. More bang for my addict buck! Lovely!

Marijuana just makes it more purty.

All right, so I'm a blog whore. In all my whoring finesse, I'm asking all y'all to stop by and tell me precisely why I suck.

Thank you for your participation.

At 5:53 PM, Blogger Krystal said...

The asterisk, yes, it's alright. I just have some issues with it since it seems to always distract me in English textbooks so I spend 10 minutes reading "side notes" about boring pilgrims or some such.

Me, I'm a semi-colon kind of girl. I tend to ramble, so I'm enthralled by a useful bit of puncuation that makes it possible for me to turn an entire paragraph into one long sentence; here, for example, it could have ended but no, the semi-colon was there for me; and here, you thought it was over, but the semi-colon made this sentence possible, as well.

I hope you like Christmas cookies, semi-colon.

At 6:41 PM, Blogger Former Intern Andy said...

What is the plural of "asterisk"? isn't it asterices??


Just kidding; I've seen it both ways, but I find "asterisks" to be the clearer and more common of the two.

At 6:46 PM, Blogger MonIQUE!!! said...

Personally, I think your rampage on the wonderful and enlightening " * " is too deep. Get real! It's only a a stinkin' asterisk! It was designed, is used, and therefore exists w/o any other reason, like having been expounded on extensively. GAH! Why don't people ponder over more important things in life? Such as... well, there ARE more important things, it just highly depends on the individual. -_-

At 8:07 PM, Blogger Lorelai said...

I just started reading your blog [there was a link to it from the dashboard], and it is wonderful.

At 10:17 PM, Blogger ryan said...

Beyond the asterisk, your title alone includes two symbols we know to come from parts of the human body. We have:

: (the colon)
# (the pound, or sometimes the hash; not necessarily drugs)

At 10:32 PM, Blogger 'Thought & Humor' said...

Thought I would stop in to say, "Hi"!!!
'Thought & Humor'

At 10:56 PM, Blogger scribe called steff said...

"Asterices" is the pompous "I'm a science and literature genius. Marvel at my grasp of plurality" version.

I would be wary of pomposity on demand like that.

Asterisks is not only cool but easy to make it sound like you're drinking when you lisp the "sks" ending out. Kind of a game everyone can play.

At 11:39 PM, Blogger Carrie said...

I would comment, but I just can't get enough of this bouncy ball.

At 11:56 PM, Blogger Lia said...

All hail the semicolon, that underutilized king of punctuation marks. Not to be confused with the dash -- or the double dash -- which is for offsetting phrases, much like the asterisk, except you don't have to scroll to the bottom to find out the parathentical phrase. No, the semicolon -- which has yet to make an appearance in this comment -- (and by the way, those double dashes should have been commas) is much maligned and misused, yet it never complains.

Take that, you asterisk!

At 12:00 AM, Blogger Former Intern Andy said...

I would comment, but I just can't get enough of this bouncy ball.

Now that made me laugh out loud.

At 12:02 AM, Blogger Andy said...

although I have no preference on symbols, I do pity the "slash" (/).

It's use in the english vocabulary has simply descended into the slang term for "number 1".

Which makes the "backslash" even worse.

Pledge money now for the unfortunate slashes.

At 12:02 AM, Blogger Andy said...

Except the guitarist for Guns n' Roses... he can get stuffed.

At 12:39 AM, Blogger Sarah said...

I have a feeling mother has done her share of table-head-banging.

At 12:40 AM, Blogger Sarah said...


At 12:40 AM, Blogger Sarah said...

* YOUR mother. I meant to say YOUR mother.

At 1:25 AM, Blogger sdyoung said...

Ah the wonders of Photoshop...the cat picture is classic. :) Funny stuff.

At 7:57 AM, Blogger Ali said...

I was pondering whether i should remark on the various traits that appear to be unique to you and crack addicts, but it would seem that fellow bloggers have taken the liberty of bringing it to your attention already.

As for the asterisk, i believe that it's flair and sexual appeal is superceeded only by the circumflex.
Undeniable arousal.

At 10:51 AM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

I suddenly akin seeing that first graphic with my exhausted, overworked eyes at 11am on a Sunday morning... much the same as concentrating 4 good hours of sun staring would do. OW!

Then again, possibly the drugs wore off. Four hours goes by so fast these days. *sigh* ;)

At 12:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, do you have a photo?? Show us who the genius behind all this is!

At 5:16 PM, Blogger scribe called steff said...

I still have allegiance to the all-important period. Where, oh where would we be sans period?

Then there's the comma.

But don't get me started.

Ixnay on the hotopay, eh? Don't post a photo. My illusions of you are fragile. Don't go shattering 'em.

What's wrong with a little mystery, people?

At 6:24 PM, Blogger Elijah said...


At 7:55 PM, Blogger Belen^_^Sanchez said...

im having nightmares about the care bears now, thank you very much.

At 8:35 PM, Blogger - Jimmyjay said...

A perfunctory lesson in semiotics succeeded by a didactic impression of substance induced* existentialism.

*The flashback that was once guaranteed finally arrived. It's OK. No, really, I'm fine**.

**I'm not.

At 11:10 PM, Blogger Carney Man said...

Sleep deprivation is like a drug. Well, except for the first few hours. Those first few suck cause your so damn tired. But after that you forget about it and then everything seems funny to you. Like frankensnoggles. Frankensnoggles are quite hilarious when you are tired. Actually, they can be entertaining at any time, but you cannot fully appreciate them unless you are tired. Me, I'm a carrot (^) myself.

At 5:03 AM, Blogger citybrat said...

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My blog is yy4me and i've just sign in name is citybrat. so come and check it out!
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At 7:03 AM, Blogger Flash said...

I wish I was on drugs because those cats pretty much made me pee myself while straight. I'd still be laughing now if stoned.

As for the asterisk, it's a fine little fella (though I'm with Omar on the parentheses)*

*Which I like to call brackets

At 12:58 PM, Blogger Striped Tree said...

I just have one question. How did the asterisk know about my secret fear of the Quaker Oatmeal dude? I thought I had kept this fear well-hidden all my life.
I never knew about the magical powers of the asterisk. I just thought it looked cool. Thanks for opening my eyes!

At 1:28 PM, Blogger Christa said...

******* they do look sorta like black licorice. I am also partial to the tilde ~ however, astericks are quite nice

At 2:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, in Britain, I think they call the forward slash (/) the 'stroke.' So I vote for that, it's friendly sounding punctuation mark---very friendly indeed.

At 7:22 PM, Anonymous bondbebe said...

Why are you being so unfairly favorable toward *astericks*? Not that astericks aren't kick ass, but why not do a "thing" on ~tildes~ or (parentheses) or "quotations" or any of the other things anyone mentioned?!! Just a thought....i think it would be cool.

At 3:08 AM, Blogger Jenny Good said...

cool blog. love it.

At 7:25 AM, Blogger Lumbergh-in-training said...

HAHAHA I watch japanese cartoons for thrills... your tiny, star's intern can not even do anything.

long live stars! long live pokemon!!
Down with asterisks!!!

At 9:37 AM, Blogger Chunks said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 9:38 AM, Blogger Chunks said...

You're all punctuation amateurs — No punctuation mark can defeat the emdash — unless of course you're writing in an HTML comments box and emdashes don't work properly...

At 10:44 AM, Blogger Malabar Builders India Pvt. Ltd. said...

I grew up reading and loving * and /

The gauls are just funny and cute. Especially when druid getafix doesnt give "/" a fix.

It took me a long while indeed before i realised the connection between the comic charecter and the character as you speak of here.

At 12:09 PM, Blogger Corinna Hasofferett said...

You are far too good to waste your life on eternal or temporary internship. Think well, think twice: Do you see yourself 29 yrs from now or even next year, married, three kids, copying - out of the PR wall clock or stationary - medicines names as prescriptions for your immortal followers?

You seem to be smarter than this.
Wake up before it's too late******

Warm regards from Tel-Aviv

At 6:13 PM, Blogger Gloria Glo said...

My previously undiscovered drug addiction really has me in a dither. Not only will my coworkers have to continue to endure my frequent giggling at New York Intern posts, but now I will have to resort to stealing money from them in order to support my habit. Life's a crack addict, as they say.

At 7:40 PM, Blogger 1 said...

For me...the "quotes"...quote everything. Throw the reader off. Make it look like there is dialogue or perhaps a "secret" code. Ahhhh...the "quotes". Have you ever paired them with an asterisk? Make the reader think like you are going to give credit to someone for that "quote", but not list anything at the end at all.

I'm sick with the "quotes".

At 8:06 PM, Blogger Bridger said...

Well, well . . . I just thought I would be poster #freakin 54.

Hot damn.

I think I will pay more attention so I can be a number that is more attractive next time. 54 is really really low, especially since for the time being, I feel like I am last. Now, of course, if this thread pulls in say, another 246 comments, than holy crap, I will be in the top 15%. Until then, I'll just sip my decaf coffee (yeah, quit caffiene today . . . I'm a bit more bitter than usual.)

So off I go dreaming of asterisks . . . ***

At 8:34 PM, Blogger I.M. Contemplating said...

I like quotations. OOOOOO. Aren't they pretty. Fortunately i'm not drugged up. Though I still found the kitty slightly more than amusing. Do something on qoutations. I would but I'm too lazy. Ok. Yeah. You can stop reading now. But feel free to read on while i babble. Oh theres a man on yor face. I made that song. It's quite long. Hey that rhymes. I'm, gonna stop now. But just to let you know I do have a life.

At 9:12 PM, Blogger bdure said...

Speaking as a former copy editor, I love asterisks in everyday use because they don't let us use them at work.

In other words, I feel so ****ing naughty.

At 9:29 PM, Blogger Your Optimistic Cynic said...

Fuck off.
I hate cats.

At 10:10 PM, Blogger Steve said...

So anyway, is the singular of "licorice" "licorix"?

At 10:38 PM, Blogger 52X Max said...

Asterix & Obelix? whatever
I personally think that parentheses or brackets are great, and since a mouth full of teeth-brackets looks like these ***** , I feel comfortable with asterisks as well
As for Slashes or strokes, they both kick ass in music
PS Since it's Jewish, I'm sending the tilde ~ a Hannukah card

At 4:32 PM, Anonymous Nick Harrison said...

I love the's simply great! I really like using them when I IM...

Me: Typing part of a story...
Me: ...and utilizing the almighty elipse to dramticly draw it out!

...Go Elipse...

At 9:46 PM, Blogger Lea said...

That picture stayed,
The same the WHOLE time,
Or maybe I'm just lying.
Cool Blog.

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