Thursday, February 21, 2019

“The niece of a department store”

George Stroud works in the magazine business. He and his wife Georgette are attending at a party at the residence of his boss Earl Janoth:

Kenneth Fearing, The Big Clock. 1946. (New York: New York Review Books, 2006).

Forty-two pages in, I’ll vouch for The Big Clock.

[George and Georgette’s daughter: Georgia. They all call each other George: “George said you’d tell me a story, George.” Just a tad surreal.]

A Mongol sighting

[Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (dir. Robert Aldrich, 1962). Click for a larger view.]

Anna Lee, as the next-door neighbor Mrs. Bates, holds a Mongol pencil. The ferrule is the tell-tale sign.

From childhood’s hour, the Mongol has been my favorite pencil.

Related reading
All OCA Mongol posts (Pinboard)

Wednesday, February 20, 2019


”You’ll laugh, you’ll be moved, and you’ll come away with new ways to approach your work and put research into practice. You’ll meet people who can help your career thrive”: from a website for a conference about (so-called) distance learning. There are many such conferences.

Strange that those who extol distance learning should extol the benefits of meeting in real space to talk shop. For students: online classes. For us: travel money and conferences. Let them eat Internets!

A related post
Haircuts, the gold standard, and everyone else

Frozen heads

Lately our deck has been dry, sodden, or covered in snow. But this morning: frozen nailheads.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019


[Mark Trail, February 19, 2019.]

On Harbour Island in the Bahamas, a man named Dirty is destroying a mannequin’s head with a flamethrower: “Man! This flamethrower is a blast!” The name, the weapon, the witless violence: might this man be a villain? If so, Mark will promptly be dispatching him, eight or nine months from now.

If you want to break the fourth wall, you must leave no wall behind. Olivia Jaimes can show you how it’s done. Also, don’t leave parts of clouds and infernos blank. “FFWWOOOOSSSHHH” must be comics-speak for “Dammit, I forgot to proofread.”

Related reading


[Click for a much larger view.]

Not quite FAT and SASSY, but still — what are the odds? Slim, I guess.

“The phrase fat and sassy has connoted robust good health for well over a century”: The Merriam-Webster New Book of Word Histories (1991). M-W cites an 1859 example: “The fryin-pan stunk with fat eels, and we all got fat and sassy.”

Monday, February 18, 2019

No TV for a week!

But it’s not a punishment. And in truth, it’s only cable news, not TV. It’s been no CNN or MSNBC for a week, and I feel fine.

I’ve tried it before: from November 8 to December 13, I watched no television news, save for an episode of the PBS NewsHour dedicated to Gwen Ifill. At some point the news went back on. I confess: I was a backslider, reading with CNN on in the background, watching The 11th Hour (at 10 Central) and feeling dread. And then I decided (again) — enough.

My eyes and ears are open and my head is nowhere near the sand: I am keeping up with the news by reading The New York Times and The Washington Post and listening to NPR. I’ve made the mistake of tuning in to cable news just twice, hitting 1-3-5 or 1-3-8 on the remote out of habit. Once I got someone saying “But it will never pass in the Senate.” And once I got a commercial. I don’t think I’ve missed much.

[I had already pretty much given up on the PBS NewsHour: it makes everything feel too normal.]

In extremis

Arthur Schnitzler, Fräulein Else. 1924. In Desire and Delusion: Three Novellas, trans. Margret Schaefer (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2003).

Schnitzler’s novella Lieutenant Gustl (1900) marks the first sustained use of interior monologue in European literature. Twenty-four years later, Fräulein Else takes the form of an interior monologue by a young woman who seeks to keep her debtor father from prison by approaching an old family friend for money. The friend has agreed, but has exacted a price.

Everything in this volume is desperation, suspicion, and madness. Highly recommended.

Also from Schnitzler
“Maestro!” : “A simple bourgeois home” : To Vienna by train

Sunday, February 17, 2019

“Loser teachers”

In The Washington Post, three teachers, from Canada, the Netherlands, and the United States, respond to Donald Trump Jr.’s remarks about “loser teachers.” An excerpt:

In a stadium filled with people chanting “USA, USA,” the son of the president of the United States called for hostility toward teachers because of their so-called political leanings. This is a message you would expect in an authoritarian regime, not at a rally for the U.S. president. . . .

By working daily with young people, teachers are the stewards of the future. Whether Democratic or Republican, liberal or conservative, right, left, center, blue or red — seeing and reinforcing the value of a teacher should be a national pillar that rises high above partisan politics and cheap applause.

NYRB sale

New York Review Books has a half-off sale on selected books. I can vouch for Balzac, Gass, and Schnitzler.