Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Duck Machine

"Deus ex machina" - noun

1. (in ancient Greek and Roman drama) a god introduced into a play to resolve the entanglements of the plot.

any artificial or improbable device resolving the difficulties of a plot.

[Origin: 1690–1700; NL lit., god from a machine (i.e., stage machinery from which a deity's statue was lowered), as trans. of Gk apò méchanês theós (Demosthenes), theòs ek méchanês (Menander), etc.]

"Duck machine" - noun

Deliberate malapropism or misreading of the term, "Deus ex machina"

From a Slate discussion of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," a discussion headed "Harry Potter and the Deus ex Machina":

"Here's a little mental virus for you:

"For reasons that are obscure to me, but not unimaginable, some of my friends call it 'Duck Machine' instead of 'Deus ex Machina'. Among these friends we call it Harry Potter and the Duck Machine, a delightful image. We used to laugh that Star Trek endings so often employed the Duck Machine, that we imagined this ending written into the script for Star Trek episodes:

"Engineer: Duck Machine armed and ready, sir.

"Captian [sic]: Fire duck machine!


"Roll credits "

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