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02 Marts 2005 @ 18:56
Lego, apostrophes, cats, and churches  

Although my own religious persuasion—or dissuasion, perhaps—is what's rather unappealingly called "weak atheism," I am nonetheless capable of being emotionally and aesthetically moved by the art people create to honour their gods—the verse of the Mahābhārata, say, or the intricacies of Janáček's Glagolitic Mass, or the sheer blueness of the interior of the Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal. Into this category falls the remarkable Abston Church of Christ, designed and built single-handedly by the architect (manquée) Amy Hughes. Here's a view of the interior:

One of the most striking things about the church is, of course, the building material; it's made of Lego brand interlocking acrylonitrile butadiene styrene bricks. (They put the abs in Abston.) To get a real sense of the scope of the project, one really has to look at several of the photos on Hughes's site, and not just the one I've reproduced here. I also strongly recommend reading her FAQ about the church; it's informative, engagingly written, and full of reassurances that Hughes is, in fact, sane.

This amazing structure is dedicated to Hughes's late cat, Precious, and this fact leads me to a language-related digression. In doing their part to bring the Abston Church of Christ to the attention of the world, the unreconstructed sophomores at collegehumor.com have provided a lovely demonstration of the fact that the proper use of the apostrophe is much more complicated than many professional apostrophists would have us believe (a point I have made less succinctly in a previous post). Specifically, they show that there are cases when it is correct to put an apostrophe between the pronoun it and an s that indicates possession:

Fun fact about the Abston Church of Christ - it is dedicated to the woman who built it's cat, Precious. No, really. Are you surprised?

If we remove the apostrophe, we get nonsense—Hughes is not the woman who built the cat that belongs to the church, nor is the church dedicated to her. Rather, the church is dedicated to Precious, the cat of the woman who built the church. And possessive 's in English can attach to whole phrases, not just individual nouns, so [[the woman who built it]'s cat] is a perfectly grammatical (if somewhat clunky) construction.

Nuværende humør: impressedimpressed
Mr. Whiskerslikesgadgets on 2. Marts, 2005 16:51 (UTC)
In doing their part to bring the Abston Church of Christ to the attention of the world, the unreconstructed sophomores at collegehumor.com have provided a lovely demonstration of the fact that the proper use of the apostrophe is much more complicated than many professional apostrophists would have us believe...

OK, now that whole bit was quite amusing. :-) Fine work!
Q. Pheevr: Sir Loodabert Commaq_pheevr on 3. Marts, 2005 06:35 (UTC)
鉄観音: cuteisolt on 2. Marts, 2005 19:27 (UTC)
Along those lines, have you seen The Brick Testament?
Q. Pheevr: Sir Loodabert Commaq_pheevr on 3. Marts, 2005 06:43 (UTC)

Oh, my.

There are also some pretty odd things to be found even on the official Lego Web site. Here's a screenshot from their adaptation of the Star Wars saga:

The inner turmoil of Anakin Skywalker is so eloquently captured in the face of the minifig, don't you think?

鉄観音: peek!isolt on 4. Marts, 2005 05:32 (UTC)
Oh. my. indeed.

He does indeed look quite... tormented. But then of course the Anakin figure can only ever look tormented -- unless of course he has interchangeable heads or something.
the_delithedeli on 2. Marts, 2005 20:08 (UTC)

Q. Pheevrq_pheevr on 3. Marts, 2005 06:46 (UTC)

I guess because the Lego people realized that "miniature figurines" was too unwieldy, but somehow didn't want to call them "Lego people" (perhaps for fear of confusion between the minifigs and their makers?).

the_delithedeli on 3. Marts, 2005 06:57 (UTC)
I get it.

Miniature figurine as opposed to what?
"Figurine" is already diminutive.

Have you ever heard of a "life-size figurine"?
Of course a figurine is going to be miniature!

I'm sticking with 'lego people'.
I used to have a lot of them,
and I kept them until an embarrassingly late stage in life.
Q. Pheevrq_pheevr on 3. Marts, 2005 17:42 (UTC)

I don't think there is any age at which it ceases to be appropriate (or should begin to be embarrassing) to own Legos. At some point I sold mine to my younger sister, and then years later when I read Microserfs I deeply regretted it.

frogofthelakes on 3. Marts, 2005 09:36 (UTC)
Love it. :)
Hellesponthellespont on 3. Marts, 2005 10:07 (UTC)
Frog! I didn't know you had an LJ!
frogofthelakes on 3. Marts, 2005 10:58 (UTC)
Oh, I don't, really, but people like the Evil Tishie don't let the public see their writing, so I had to get one! :)
Q. Pheevr: Few cows can driveq_pheevr on 3. Marts, 2005 17:57 (UTC)

Frog maintains an LJ pied-à-terre for the express purpose of blaspheming the Great Wahooweena.

Hellesponthellespont on 3. Marts, 2005 10:06 (UTC)
I'm glad I finally friended you back!
Q. Pheevr: Plaid god!q_pheevr on 3. Marts, 2005 17:51 (UTC)

Me, too!

By the way, have I mentioned that your bio makes me smile? Especially the first two sentences.

Hellesponthellespont on 3. Marts, 2005 20:44 (UTC)
It's nice you're so happy my grandparents are dead ;) (sorry! couldn't resist!)

But thanks! I'm glad you like, and enjoy your learned postings very much as well. I actually just got back from the library where I got a bunch of books on etymologies and word studies; the one on ancient Egyptian survivals into modern Arabic looks especially fun.
"That Anne Girl": Pussyfootabenn on 3. Marts, 2005 10:15 (UTC)
The church and your discussion of it are wonderful... but the truly striking thing is that you used a different icon!
Q. Pheevr: Portrait of the blogger as a young Pogueq_pheevr on 3. Marts, 2005 17:46 (UTC)
  1. Thanks!
  2. Hmm... I actually have quite a few icons, but I guess I don't use most of them very often.
blahblahginger on 20. April, 2005 16:53 (UTC)
from one "weak atheist" to another
Great thread, thanks for the links to the Lego Church.

And I have also seen http://www.thebricktestament.com/ ... which isn't quite as serious as the Abston church.

PS: Saw your blog on About.com.
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