Welcome to the first issue of The Sardonic Spectator, Terre Haute’s independent and artsy on-line newspaper. We plan to look at Terre Haute both to appreciate what is interesting and to examine what we think are problems. In the belief that art is inherently interesting and thought provoking, we plan to include it along with more traditional journalism. You can see that we have some forums for adding your responses and opinions. However, we reserve the right to remove anything. Politically, both progressive and conservative views are welcome, as long as they are well reasoned. We won’t publish any rants about Obama – he’s not from Terre Haute.
We’ll stay clear of rants in general because they are, by definition, poorly reasoned. And watch your grammar and sentence structure – the founders of this site are educated people who respect correct usage. Also, watch your language. All of us here at The Sardonic Spectator can, and sometimes do, curse like sailors. However, we do so knowing that’s a lazy means of expression, which is neither rational nor creative. That makes it unsuitable for our publication.
Our name is a riff on The Saturday Spectator, which you have to be middle-aged or maybe even old to remember. In case you’re not, see the article in this issue for some background. If you were to look up sardonic, you’d find a definition such as “bitter, mocking”. Truthfully, we were mostly going for the alliteration, but we will be mocking what we find ridiculous in and around Terre Haute. As far as bitter, look that up and you’ll see part of the definition is “having an astringent taste, suggestive of an infusion of hops.” How quickly reading this brought back happy memories of my semester in Oxford, England, where “A pint of bitter” is a common order in pubs.
Sadly, sardonic shares no linguistic connection with sardine.
If you need to be told why there’s a connection between Terre Haute and crows, well, you must be a newcomer. Again, you can find out what you need to know by reading our article on the topic. For the heck of it (and because once I’m in the dictionary, I can’t stop looking at other things – the advantage of using an actual book and not just Google), I found the definition of crow is “glossy black oscine bird.” You guessed it – I had to go to the O’s where I found the word is derived from “the Latin oscen bird used in divination.” So, aside from the local connection, it’s good for a newspaper to be associated with “foretelling the future or discovering hidden knowledge; also, unusual insight or intuitive perception.”
Lucinda Berry was born in Terre Haute, got a B.A. in English from Indiana State University, studied in Oxford, England, and worked in Shimonoseki, Japan and traveled a good deal in Asia, got an M.A. in Linguistics from Indiana University, and eventually ended up back in Terre Haute. Her favorite place in Terre Haute is the Swope Art Museum. If she happened to be there when a fire broke out, she would rush to save Jack Levine’s “A Joy Forever.”