Saturday, November 28, 2015

Familiar phrasing

Elaine and I are back home after ten days visiting family and friends. “Family and friends”: what a bland phrase, so easily trivialized by the abbreviation ’n’ , so easily commodified into a “plan.” And yet the only words we have for our most important human relationships.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Nabokov: Van Veen, eraser

Dr. Van Veen, psychologist, in lecture mode:

Vladimir Nabokov, Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle (1969).

Nabokov himself famously said that his pencils outlasted their erasers. Not (contra The Atlantic ) in Speak, Memory but in a 1962 interview with unidentified journalists, published in Strong Opinions (1973): “I have rewritten — often several times — every word I have ever published. My pencils outlast their erasers.”

Related reading
All OCA Nabokov posts (Pinboard)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Waitin’ with Nancy

[Nancy , November 22, 1945. Via Random Acts of Nancy .]

Related reading
All OCA Nancy posts (Pinboard)

Thanksgiving 1915

[“Thanksgiving Revel in Waldorf Barn: Guests Enjoy a New England Farm Dinner and See Country Dances and Corn Husking.” The New York Times, November 24, 1915.]

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Previous Thanksgiving posts
In jail, 1914 : In jail, 1913 : Thanksgiving and mortality : In jail, 1912 : Competitive eating, 1911 : A 1917 greeting card : A found letter : Sing Sing, 1908 : Sing Sing, 1907

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Escalators, not over the hill

“The first thing they’d say was, ‘Please tell me you’re keeping the wooden escalators’”: “Macy’s Historic Wooden Escalators Survive Renovation” (The New York Times ).

[Bonus points if you recognize the source of the post title.]

William Maxwell: “the greatest pleasure there is”

The narrator leaves Lincoln, Illinois, to join and his father and stepmother Grace in the big city:

William Maxwell, So Long, See You Tomorrow (1980).

Other Maxwell posts
On childhood and familiar objects
On Melville and Cather
On sentences

Robert Walser: “something slight”

No deeds now! Listen, linger, remain rooted to the spot. Be divinely touched by something slight.

Robert Walser, “Tiergarten,” in Berlin Stories , trans. Susan Bernofsky (New York: New York Review Books, 2012).
Related reading
All OCA Robert Walser posts (Pinboard)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The last Mencken post

A Variety headline:

Pash Flaps M. C.
Fan Clubs Rated
Worthless to Theatres
As B. O. Gag.

Quoted in H. L. Mencken, The American Language: An Inquiry into the Development of English in the United States , 4th ed. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1936).

Can you figure out what this headline is saying? Mencken gives a paraphrase as it appeared in the Manchester Guardian , January 30, 1930. No spoilers here: it’s in the comments.

Also from The American Language
The American a : The American v. the Englishman : Anglic : “Are you a speed-cop? : Benjamin Franklin and spelling : B.V.D. : English American English : Franco-American : “[N]o faculty so weak as the English faculty” : On professor : Playing policy : Proper names in America : “There are words enough already” : The -thon , dancing and walking Through -thing and -thin’ : Vaudevillians at play : The verb to contact

[Finally made it to the end of this book.]

Blogger fail

The Ultimate Responsive Test: Is your site Apple Watch-responsive? Mine, no.

[If you follow the link, be sure to read the entire page. And test the site URL too.]

Monday, November 23, 2015

Domestic comedy

“If you hadn’t reminded me, I wouldn’t have even known what not to talk about.”

Related reading
All OCA “overheard” posts (Pinboard)