Tuesday, December 6, 2016

“This Week in Hate”

The second installment of a new New York Times feature: “This Week in Hate.”

The De Palma-Dunning-Kruger effect

From the Taxi episode “The Ten Percent Solution,“ first aired January 7, 1981. Louie De Palma (Danny DeVito) to Tony Banta (Tony Danza):

“Banta, sometimes I wish you were smarter, just so you’d know how dumb you are.”
Almost nineteen years before the 1999 paper that introduced the Dunning-Kruger effect, Louie (or, really, the episode’s writer, Pat Allee) was on the right track.

Related reading
All OCA Dunning-Kruger posts

Canned Heat punchline

Spotted in the fog of late-night reruns: the Bob Newhart Show episode “Here’s Looking at You, Kid,” first aired September 20, 1975. Howard Borden (Bill Daily) explains to his fiancée Ellen Hartley (Pat Finley) that he always plays “As Time Goes By” when he irons:

“I have thirteen different versions, one for each shirt. Would you like to hear a Les Paul and Mary Ford, or Canned Heat?”
I suppose the joke is meant to suggest Howard’s devotion to Ellen and his eccentric musical taste. The joke drew little laughter from the studio audience, for whom the name Canned Heat might have recalled “Going Up the Country” and little else. In 1975, the band was in hard times, not for the first time and not for the last.

In 1972, the Canned Heat album Future Blues made an appearance in a Brady Bunch episode.

Related reading
All OCA Canned Heat posts (Pinboard)

[Canned Heat never recorded “As Time Goes By.” Les Paul and Mary Ford? I don’t know.]

Monday, December 5, 2016

From an old notebook

Rachel, six, trick or treating:

“We went to some really old people last year, but they gave us a lot of candy.”

And: “If you give drugs to kids, you can go to jail.”

And: “They were strangers, but the candy they gave us was really good.”

And when she remarked that there weren’t kids in the cars that we saw and I then said that maybe they were grown-ups out and about doing grown-up things: “Yeah, they’re out of things.”

Ben, at home, wanted “a drink of candy” and then took one Skittle from a package of Skittles.

Also from an old notebook
Alfalfa, Ted Berrigan, Jack Kerouac, metaphors : Alfred Appel Jr. on twentieth-century art and literature : Balloons, poetry, teachers : Barney : Beauty and the Beast and kid talk : Eleanor Roosevelt : John Ashbery and Kenneth Koch : Plato, Shirley Temple, vulgarity, wisdom, Stan Laurel : Snow White, Betty Aberlin, kid talk : Square dancing, poetry, criticism, slang

Not O. K.

“It’s important to remember that, for example, in Russia, for the first year of when Vladimir Putin came to power, everybody was thinking that it will be O.K.”: Nadya Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot, talking with The New York Times.

A related post

[Current reading in our household: Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here (1935).]

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Art of sardines

“Sardine can”: a cartoon by Mark Stivers.

Thanks, Steven.

Related reading
All OCA sardines posts (Pinboard)

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Still at it

Not from The Onion: “Wikipedia grammar vigilante vows to keep fighting against ‘comprised of’ despite ‘resistance’” (iNews).

And from February 2015: “Man’s Wikipedia Edits Mostly Consist of Deleting ‘Comprised Of’” (Gizmodo).

Peng Chang-kuei (1919?–2016)

The chef Peng Chang-kuei, creator of General Tso’s chicken, has died. The New York Times has an obituary. Mr. Peng appeared in the excellent short documentary The Search for General Tso (dir. Ian Cheney, 2014).

[The Times says that Mr. Peng was ninety-eight. The Washington Post says ninety-seven and gives 1919 as the date of birth.]

Shameless spouse-promotion

A small package in the mailbox: Amazon? No. A present not to be opened right now? No. What is it? I opened it: “You’re on it!” said I.

Or them: in the package were two copies of a CD from MSR Classics, Stories for Our Time: Music for Trumpet by Women Composers, by Thomas Pfotenhauer (trumpet) and Vincent Fuh (piano). And on the CD, a piece by Elaine Fine, Sonata for Trumpet and Piano. Elaine knew this recording was in the works, but had no idea when it would appear.

Pfotenhauer and Fuh are exceptional musicians. It’s nice to have your music in, or under, good hands.


More late-night MetaTV: The Twilight Zone episode “Back There” (first aired January 13, 1961) brings together Mr. Drysdale of The Beverly Hillbillies (Raymond Bailey), Emmett Clark of The Andy Griffith Show and Mayberry R.F.D. (Paul Hartman), Roy Hinkley, the Professor, of Gilligan’s Island (Russell Johnson), and Henry Aldrich of the 1940s film series (James Lydon). A fan of the Lassie television series will recognize Lydon as Mr. Dennis, the down-on-his-luck father trying to get to California in the Lassie episode “The Christmas Story” (first aired December 25, 1960).

Like “Back There” itself (about preventing the assassination of Abraham Lincoln), watching television in this way is an exercise in time travel. Characters past and characters future, all present on the home screen.