Pulling out all the stops?

中国日报网 2014-09-30 11:01



Pulling out all the stops?

Reader question:

Please explain “pulled out all the stops” in this sentence: The latest “Transformers” movie pulled out all the stops to appeal to a Chinese audience, illustrating how crucial China is to Hollywood’s fortunes.

My comments:

This is just another way of saying producers of the Transformers movie did everything they could to incorporate the so-called Chinese elements into the movie so that Chinese viewers can identify with it and, hopefully, come to see it again and again.

Chinese elements such as, for instance (at least this being the case in the past), letting Chinese actors play small roles (house maids, for example), letting gangsters speak in Cantonese, etc. and so forth.

At least this has been the case for movies made in the past. Nowadays they’re even allowing Chinese actors to play leading rolls and things like that.

In other words, they’re doing all they can in order to appeal to Chinese viewers – in order, that, eventually Chinese viewers will fill the cinemas and thus putting more money into the collective pocket of Hollywood.

Bottom line? Box office. Money and profit.

All right. That is Hollywood in China and that is that. Now let’s examine the phrase “pulling out all the stops” a bit more closely. This is an idiom that one hears so often that people often ignore what it really means originally. I, for one, never paid attention to it before.

Anyways, “pulling all the stops” means, literally, removing all blockages and hindrances so that you can go all out, giving your all in trying to achieve something. The “stops” are what are called “pull-stops” in pipe organs.

Indeed, this phrase is musical in origin. This, from JedWord.com (January 5, 2012):

The origin of the word emerges in the 19th century when the design and construction of pipe organs began to become more common. The complexity of the organs magnified dramatically with the onset of manufacturing techniques, and then, in the 20th century, with the addition of electricity to the picture, organ-building became a high-tech industry. The ability to replicate voices of music that had never been imagined before called for methods of blending sound, volume and intensity which had previously depended upon pumping air through the pipes … sometimes by physical action on the part of a person who pumped the organ’s bellows by hand.

To facilitate that growing desire for enhanced organ sound, the organs were equipped with pull-stops, such as those pictured on the right side of the organ console in the picture above. Pulling the stops while playing the keyboard, an accomplished organist can achieve unbelievably beautiful contrasts in the sound being produced by the organ. Some stops increase volume and intensity; others take the organ to a whisper and a more delicate sound, as in that of a flute or piccolo. The grandiosity of the organ is somewhat tied to the number of those combinations of stops that can be installed when the organ is designed or re-designed.

If an organist wants to blast the organ and fill every nook and cranny of the Cathedral, (she) can pull out all the stops, which opens all the valves and produces a sound that is magnificent. However, it is a sound rarely called for in classic organ repertoire, except for tumultuous endings to grand pieces. It can be eardrum-shattering, depending upon the number of pipes, the length of them, and the girth of them.

Indeed, in actuality, musicians seldom need to pull out all the stops – singing a song or blowing the trumpet at the top tip of their lungs.

Which, of course, only makes it all the more significant and extraordinary when anyone actually does – pulling out all the stops, metaphorically speaking, in anything they do. It means they’re letting go, going all out and holding nothing back.

And here are media examples:

1. The Heat pulled out all the stops for its first home playoff game, with a pregame video highlight show complete with fireworks and lasers.

The club also handed out 15,000 noisemakers or “clackers.”

“It’s really exciting,” Miami center Rony Seikaly said before the game. “When I saw them put up the lights, I was very excited. Everyone is so wired and pumped up.”

Scalpers were asking up to $400 for tickets.

- The Heat pulled out all the stops for its first home playoff game, Chicago Tribune, April 30, 1992.

2. The Alabama Republican Party pulled out all the stops for Texas Gov. Rick Perry on the eve of his official campaign announcement Saturday at the RedState Gathering of conservative activists in Charleston.

With 1,500 guests, the turnout to the annual Summer Dinner in Birmingham on Friday was the biggest in Alabama GOP history, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Perry, 61, the keynote speaker at the event, told the appreciative southerners:

“Texas and Alabama have a lot in common. Y’all have a little different barbecue than we have…but like Texas, you’re gearing up for an even better Republican result in 2012.”

He was referring to the “conservative tide in the 2010 elections that captured all of Alabama’s state offices for the state’s Republicans,” the Chronicle writes.

In what was being compared to a stump speech, he also attacked President Barack Obama on his jobs record and discussed his own — a subject that is expected to be a pillar of his presidential campaign.

“They’re true believers,” Perry reportedly said of the Obama administration. “They truly believe that the federal government is the answer to every need.”

He called Obama a “threat to every private sector job out there.”

- Rick Perry wows Alabama Republicans before announcing candidacy, GlobalPost.com, August 31, 2011.

3. Rita Ora took to the red carpet for the GQ Men of the Year Awards last night, and she certainly pulled out all the stops for the occasion!

The ‘I Will Never Let You Down’ singer lit up the red carpet while arriving at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden for the star-studded event, where she was joined by the likes of Kim Kardashian West, Nicole Scherzinger and Ellie Goulding.

Clearly wanting to keep all eyes on her for the evening, Rita sported a super-sparkly silver gown complete with a one-shoulder neckline and floor-trailing train.

Her lavish frock also featured a racy thigh-high slit to show off her enviable lengthy pins, which she topped with barely-there nude sandals.

Oozing glamour as she struck a pose for the photographers, Rita accessorised with heaps upon heaps of diamond jewels while decorating her talons with dazzling silver glitter.

And it’s fair to say she turned heads in the hair department too!

- Rita Ora steals the limelight at GQ Awards in sparkly thigh-slit gown, Reveal.co.uk, September 3, 2014.




About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.



Fall in line?

Take a bow?

Stealing a march?

Take it or leave it

They pulled themselves up by their collective bootstraps

Living wage?


(作者张欣 中国日报网英语点津 编辑:陈丹妮)



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