Friday, July 21, 2017

From Sir Thomas Browne

A signpost on the road to oblivion:

To be namelesse in worthy deeds exceeds an infamous history.

Sir Thomas Browne, Hydriotaphia, Urne-Buriall, or, a Brief Discourse of the Sepulchrall Urnes Lately Found in Norfolk. 1658. From the text in Selected Writings, ed. Sir Geoffrey Keynes (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968).
Related posts
Thomas Browne in The New York Times
Word of the day: quincunx

Royal Motel


[Ozymandias slept here. North Syracuse, New York, early in the morning.]

The sign appears to be repurposed: the pinkish capital letters behind MOTEL spell DINER.

Daughter Number Three has posted a photograph from a different angle.

Related reading
All OCA signage posts (Pinboard)

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Oil and reading habits

Last Thursday, I felt fairly confident that Elaine and I were the only people in the world reading Sir Thomas Browne’s The Garden of Cyrus while waiting for an oil change. This Thursday, I felt extremely confident that I was the only person in the world reading Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees while waiting for an oil-access cover to be fastened properly in place after a recent oil change. We saw the cover hanging down underneath the car this morning.

And I feel totally confident that I am the only person who read The Garden of Cyrus while waiting for an oil change who then read The Hidden Life of Trees while waiting for an oil-access cover to be fastened properly in place after that oil change.

To and too

Speaking of bad copyediting:


[From a landscaper’s flyer, found on the handle of our storm door.]

One of my earliest posts to Orange Crate Art was about a handyman’s flyer that my dad saved for me. It read “No job to small.” But this landscaper’s flyer, with its attention to capitalization and type size, and its subtle distinction between to and too, beats all. To much!

[In September 2004, Google had 5,950 results for “no job to small” and 34,900 for “no job too small.” Today, it’s 676,000 for to, and 593,000 for too. But it appears that results for too are included with those for to. Google’s Ngram Viewer has no results for no job to small in American English between 1800 and 2008. The Ngram shows “no job too small” spiking in popularity between 1915 and 1922. Why?]

”There’s no excuse
for bad copyediting”


[Dustin, July 19, 2017.]

Fitch’s L, for loser, is backward. Good call, Dustin.

See also this strip’s treatment of phrasal adjectives and “rocket surgery.”

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

More Vivian Maier

From the Chicago Tribune: “Almost 500 never-before-shown Vivian Maier prints have found a new home at the University of Chicago Library, the university announced Wednesday.”

A slideshow of fourteen photographs accompanies the Tribune article.

A related post
Henry Darger and Vivian Maier

Against “Jane”

The novelist Howard Jacobson, on why readers should not refer to Jane Austen as “Jane”:

[I]t is more than an impertinence; it is singularly cloth-eared, considering the precise forms that address takes in Jane Austen’s work. It isn’t only manners that are at stake when one person trespasses on another’s privacy and distance, it’s morality.

In novel after novel, we see how disregard for the niceties of respect will lead to what is described in Mansfield Park as “too horrible a confusion of guilt, too gross a complication of evil.” Outside the barriers that ceremony erects, “barbarism” lies in wait.

And if that sounds altogether too prim and unforgiving a view of human society, then you haven’t read Jane Austen.
See also: museum docents who talk about “Emily.”

Watch-band calendar

A message from the dowdy world arrived in our mailbox: a Myles Kimball catalogue. I was immediately drawn to its watch-band calendar. Because how else will you plan ahead? From the catalogue description:

Always have a calendar handy. Oval brushed-metal watchband calendars wrap easily around your watchband. Reversible: gold-tone on one side, silver-tone on the other, so watchband calendar plates will match most watches. 12 plates in a handy storage pouch. 5/8" x 1 1/2". Fit bands 5/8" to 1" wide.
Not just twelve plates and two tones, but also a handy storage pouch. I daresay that this item out-dowdies anything sold by the Vermont Country Store.

Desk, Kafkaesque

In Karl Rossmann’s room is “an American writing desk of the very finest sort”:


Franz Kafka, Amerika (The Man Who Disappered), trans. from the German by Michael Hoffman (New York: New Directions, 2002).

Another Kafka post
Cabbing with Kafka

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

“It’s getting kind of crowded in here”

As the head count at Trump Tower rises, I am reminded of a great moment in film.


[A Night at the Opera (dir. Sam Wood, 1935).]