Tuesday, June 18, 2019

“Dictionaries at War”

Merriam-Webster tells the story of the Armed Services Edition of Webster’s New Handy Dictionary: “Dictionaries at War.”

Last month Elaine and I saw two Armed Services Edition paperbacks in the New York Public Library’s Walt Whitman exhibit: Great Poems from Chaucer to Whitman (ed. Louis Untermeyer) and A Wartime Whitman (ed. William A. Aiken). Both with the same tiny format, 5 1/2″ × 3 3/4″.

“An asphalt spring”

Robert Musil, The Man Without Qualities. 1930–1943. Trans. Sophie Wilkins (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995).

Related reading
All OCA Robert Musil posts (Pinboard)

Got it

Stephen Colbert last night, channeling Donald Trump: “I’ve always said, ‘You can’t trust any poll that doesn’t have a dancer on it.’” And Jon Batiste responded with four bars of Duke Ellington's “Dancers in Love.”

You can hear Colbert’s line and Batiste’s response at the 4:19 mark.

A related post
Colbert, Batiste, and Bill Strayhorn’s “U.M.M.G.”

[How many of these musical comments must I not get?]

Monday, June 17, 2019

Apostrophes in the news

The lyrics site Genius has caught Google swiping its stuff. Daring Fireball quotes from a Wall Street Journal article (behind the paywall):

Starting around 2016, Genius said, the company made a subtle change to some of the songs on its website, alternating the lyrics’ apostrophes between straight and curly single-quote marks in exactly the same sequence for every song.

When the two types of apostrophes were converted to the dots and dashes used in Morse code, they spelled out the words “Red Handed.”
At Daring Fireball, John Gruber mentions Encyclopedia Brown. To my mind, the Genius stratagem is worthy of Alvin Fernald.

Here’s a short video showing Genius’s apostrophes at work.


[Life, September 23, 1966. Click for a much larger lunch.]

I went looking for something else and found Lunch. Five things about Lunch:

1. I like the idea of a recipe card, even a virtual one, titled Lunch. File between Breakfast and Dinner, also made with Pepperidge Farm White Bread.

2. I am enough of a child to find the prospect of frankfurter ’n cheese appealing, at least in theory, especially if there’s ketchup. Though the name of the dish should read frankfurter ’n’ cheese: ’n,’ as in rock ’n’ roll.

3. I like the way the carrot sticks resemble fries. A child might be fooled, at least briefly.

4. There’s no good explanation of why the plate and cup in this advertisement rest on what appears to be the tray of a very old high chair. Hot soup in a high chair?

5. HowStuffWorks offers a good explanation of crusts and curly hair. I was always told that eating the crusts puts hair on your chest. Nonsense. What’s not common knowledge: not eating the crusts puts hair on your chest and back.

That’s Lunch.


Curtis Honeycutt on weird and wonderful practice of adding -’s to the name of a grocery store: Aldi’s, Kroger’s, Meijer’s, &c. He missed my favorite: Jewel’s, which might also be heard as the value-added plural Jewels.

Mac Open Web

Brian Warren’s Mac Open Web, “a collection of open and indie Mac, iOS, and web apps that help promote the open web.” Of the apps listed, I use six: Acorn, BBEdit, Byword, Instapaper, MarsEdit, and Pinboard.

[Via Daniel Jalkut’s Bitsplitting.org.]

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Dad jokes

“Accept no substitutes”: Oscar’s Day No. 2492.

Bloomsday 2019

From “Ithaca,” my favorite episode of James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922). In the wee small hours of the morning of June 17, 1904, Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus arrive at Bloom’s place, 7 Eccles Street, Dublin:

Bloom, a wily Odysseus, gains entry by climbing over the railing, dropping down into the area, and opening the door to the kitchen. He then walks upstairs and lets Stephen in through the front door. No. 7 was torn down in 1967. The door and its frame were saved.

Other Bloomsday posts
2007 (The first page)
2008 (“Love’s Old Sweet Song”)
2009 (Marilyn Monroe reading Ulysses)
2010 (Leopold Bloom, “water lover”)
2011 (“[T]he creature cocoa”)
2012 (Plumtree’s Potted Meat)
2013, 2013 (Bloom and fatherhood)
2014 (Bloom, Stephen, their respective ages)
2015 (Stephen and company, very drunk)
2016 (“I dont like books with a Molly in them”)
2017 (Bloom and Stephen, “like and unlike reactions to experience”)
2018 (“One sole unique advertisement”)

[Bloomsday : “the 16th of June 1904. Also: the 16th of June of any year, on which celebrations take place, esp. in Ireland, to mark the anniversary of the events in Joyce’s Ulysses.” Area : “a sunken court giving access to the basement of a house, separated from the pavement by railings, with a flight of steps providing access.” Definitions from the Oxford English Dictionary.]

Father’s Day

FaceTiming with Rachel and Talia earlier this week, I started whistling for Talia. First, the alphabet song. She smiled and laughed. “Again.” I obliged. “Again.” I obliged. For an encore I whistled “The Wheels on the Bus.” And for a second encore, a little song Elaine and I sing for Talia every time we see her, in person or in pixels.

Rachel said to Talia, “My grandpa whistled for me.” And now I’m the grandpa. Or as Talia says, “bah-pah.”

As Davey McQuinn once said, “Life goes on.” Happy Father’s Day to all.