Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Duke Ellington, morning person?

From Joya Sherrill’s children’s television show Time for Joya, WPIX, New York, 1970. Sherrill has just introduced her “very first boss”:

Joya Sherrill: Duke, I tell you, I can’t tell you how much it means to me to know that you got up this early to come and be on Time for Joya.

Duke Ellington: Well, eight o’clock in the morning, one never gets up. One only stays up.
A related post
Joya Sherrill (1927–2010)

Joya Sherrill (1927–2010)

The news comes this morning from Chris Albertson’s Stomp Off in C that the singer Joya Sherrill has died. She sang with Duke Ellington in the 1940s (and again in 1957 and 1963), starting in July 1942, with her mother as chaperone:

“I opened in Chicago at the College Inn in the Hotel Sherman, July of 1942. Ivie Anderson, I shall never forget, was still with the band. You called me to sing ‘Mood Indigo’ (it was Ivie’s song), and she pulled me back before I walked out to sing, and said, ‘Sing it good, or I’ll come behind you and sing it too!’ I was terrified, but determined to do a good job.”

Quoted in Duke Ellington’s Music Is My Mistress (New York: Doubleday, 1973).
Here, from 1943, is a sample of Sherrill’s work with Ellington: “The Blues,” from Black, Brown and Beige.

Joya Sherrill later hosted two children’s television shows on WPIX in New York. Here, from 1970, are the surviving audio clips of Duke Ellington’s appearance on Time for Joya. Listen as Sherrill sings “Heritage” and Ellington answers children’s questions and mistells the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Sherrill and the kids then correct him. It’s eight o’clock in the morning, it’s charming and hilarious, and thank goodness that it lives on.

[To listen to .ram files without RealPlayer, use VLC media player.]

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Visualizing the Gulf oil spill

Type in your location and better understand the size of BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill: If It Was My Home.

Here in the American midwest, the spill would stretch from west of St. Louis to east of Indianapolis.

(Yes, if it were my home is right, as the site’s maker Andy Lintner acknowledges in the FAQ.)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Stanley carpenter’s rule


[Click for a larger view.]

Of all the items in the Museum of Supplies, this one might be the oldest. It’s a carpenter’s rule that belonged to my grandfather. As I remember it, the young people were allowed to take something from the basement when my grandparents sold their house. This item was my choice, probably because I had never seen anything like it.

It’s a Stanley double-folding carpenter’s rule, unfolding to twenty-four inches, made of boxwood and brass. The ruler is marked in eighths of an inch on the outside surfaces, sixteenths on the inside. Note that the inches are numbered from right to left. That convention of American ruler-making apparently disappeared in the 1940s. How did it get started? One collector suggests that it was a matter of “simple perversity,” as British manufacturers marked from left to right. One tiny alignment pin, just visible to the right of the 17, helps keep the halves together when folded. Descriptions of these rulers mention up to three pins. This ruler was made with only one. It is a tribute to the manufacturer’s art that after seventy or eighty or ninety years, the halves of the ruler hold together as if magnetized.

Reading about rulers got me looking closely enough to realize that the manufacturer’s name is legible, barely, to the right of the 10. And there’s a model number to the right of the 9: № 32½, I think. That number was indeed a Stanley model number. I like thinking about a world in which model numbers involved fractions, the world in which my grandfather used this ruler.



[“Stanley” and “№ 32½.”]

[This post is the eighth in an occasional series, “From the Museum of Supplies.” The museum is imaginary. The supplies are real. Supplies is my word, and has become my family’s word, for all manner of stationery items. Photographs by Michael Leddy.]

Also from the Museum of Supplies
Dennison's Gummed Labels No. 27
Fineline erasers
Illinois Central Railroad Pencil
A Mad Men sort of man, sort of
Mongol No. 2 3/8
Real Thin Leads
Rite-Rite Long Leads

No Beach Boys reunion

Just a couple of weeks ago, Mike Love was talking up a Beach Boys reunion with Brian Wilson:

“We began in the fall of 1961, and our first tour was in 1962, and it’s been nonstop since then. Now we’re gearing up for the 50th anniversary, and Brian Wilson, who has been working on some unfinished Gershwin music project, will rejoin us.”
Now Love has retracted that claim, with the usual Lovely arrogance: “At this time there are no plans for my cousin Brian to rejoin the tour.”

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Brian Wilson, getting
through high school

Brian Wilson, at the Beach Boys’ 1988 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction: “When I was a teenager, I listened to the Four Freshmen and Frank Sinatra. That got me through high school.”

What music got you through high school? Me: the Beatles, Canned Heat, John Lee Hooker, Mississippi John Hurt.

The Beach Boys’ Rock and Roll
Hall of Fame induction, 1988

Brian Wilson was a model of humble eloquence at the Beach Boys’ Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. But Mike Love — the story is that he’d been fasting for a week. His monologue stands as one of the most embarrassing moments in Beach Boys history. My favorite bits: “intersistine sqaubbles” and “Okay, I don’t care what anybody in this room thinks.“

The Beach Boys’ Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, 1988 (Language a little NSFW at the end)

Music for cello, uke, and two hands

“Sweet Georgia Brown,” as performed by Mike Karoub (cello), Rob Bourassa (tenor ukulele), and Gerry Phillips (The Manualist).

(Thanks, Elaine and Carrie!)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Orange telephone art


[Photograph by Rachel Leddy.]

My daughter Rachel spotted this telephone in an Anthropologie. It’s not faux-old: it’s a 1950s–1960s telephone, refurbished and painted. “Hand-restored in Argentina,” says the Anthropologie website. Steep price ($198) and mixed customer reviews, but lovely to look at.

Thanks, Rachel!

Other posts with orange
Crate art, orange : Orange art, no crate : Orange crate art : Orange crate art (Encyclopedia Brown) : Orange flag art : Orange mug art : Orange notebook art : Orange soda art : Orange timer art : Orange toothbrush art : Orange train art

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Domestic comedy

“But two days ago you liked her!”

“But that was before I knew her!”

Related reading
All “domestic comedy” posts

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A McChrystal thought

At least General Stanley McChrystal hasn’t attempted to explain his remarks to Rolling Stone as “a poor choice of words,” the usual fallback after someone lets us see what’s inside their head. But still, he’s gotta go.

(Yes, singular they. It’s okay sometimes.)

Five sentences about life

Another Google search for other people’s homework —five sentences about life — has brought someone to Orange Crate Art. Game on:

Life is like a box of chocolates.

Life is one damn thing after another.

Life, like a box of chocolates, is one damn thing after another.

That’s life. That's what all the people say.
If the last two sentences aren’t familiar, Frank Sinatra will explain.

Homework-doers: do your own homework. That’s the way to learn something.

Related posts
Five sentences from Bleak House
Five sentences about clothes
5 sentences about life on the moon
Five sentences on the ship
Five sentences for smoking
Write 5 sentence [sic] about cat
Write five sentences in the past
Five more sentences in the past

Orange notebook, moonlighting

Found out: my little orange notebook has been moonlighting at YouTube.

By day, this notebook is at work recording all the words from David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest that I need to look up.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Grades in law school, rising

In the New York Times, Catherine Rampell reports on “grade reform” in law school:

The process schools refer to as grade reform takes many forms. Some schools bump up everyone’s grades, some just allow for more As and others all but eliminate the once-gentlemanly C.
Read all about it:

In Law Schools, Grades Go Up, Just Like That (New York Times)

Review: Liza Kirwin, Lists


[Adolf Konrad (1915–2003), packing list, ca. 1962–63. Watercolor and ink. Click for a larger view.]

Liza Kirwin. Lists: To-dos, Illustrated Inventories, Collected Thoughts, and Other Artists’ Enumerations from the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art. Foreword by John W. Smith. New York. Princeton Architectural Press. 2010. $24.95.

There are, as they say, two kinds of people:

1. Those who have no interest in lists.

2. Those who are still writing or reading this review.
Liza Kirwin, curator of manuscripts at the Archives of American Art, has assembled seventy-seven lists and list-like documents from nineteenth- and twentieth-century artists (and the occasional architect, gallery owner, and writer). The items catalogued in Lists expand and complicate the idea of the list by moving beyond the purely verbal: it’s wonderful to realize that a color chart or page of thumbnail sketches of paintings is indeed a list in visual form.

Some of the lists in Lists place the artist in the world of everyday to-dos: “Pay bills,” says a Janice Lowry list, even as that list appears on a journal page alongside fragments of commercial art, a photograph, a postage stamp, and the rubber-stamped word LONGEVITY. Leo Castelli’s and Franz Kline’s shopping lists speak to us of Anacin and tooth powder, cornflakes and milk. Some practical lists are of far greater complexity: Francis Alexander Durivage makes a handwritten chart of bodily proportions for a sculptor’s use; George Peter Alexander Healy writes out sizes and prices for his portraits (“children the same as ladies”). A century later, Elaine de Kooning types up income and expenses for a joint tax return with husband Willem (they lost money in 1953). Other lists involve the impulse to make art for lists’ sake: Philip Evergood’s mobile-like taped assemblage of business cards and contact information and Adolf Konrad’s visual packing list (reproduced above) are in glorious excess of all practical considerations.

Sometimes, perhaps most excitingly, a list becomes a way to think about art. Robert Morris types out a prose-poem of alternatives to the term “earthworks.” A sample: “Bogs. Geometric quagmires. Square swamps. Minimal muck. Suspicious spongy unsound sod.” Joan Snyder offers items in a series (in colored pencil? lipstick?) to answer the question “What is feminist art?”: “HOUSES, INTIMACY, DOORWAYS, BREASTS.” Ad Reinhardt writes out long columns of “undesirable” and “more adequate” words with which to think about art. Bad: “communication,” “document,” “social agent.” Better: “discovery,” “possibility,” “vision.” And Hans Hoffman lists seven propositions concerning “the relation of students and teachers.” Number seven: “Ignorance is the mother of arrogance.”

In what seems to be a gesture of hope in difficult times, Kirwin closes out Lists with a typed Depression-era page by Grant Wood. It looks like a piece of concrete poetry but is in fact an inscrutable mapping of economic downturns of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. A typical line:
6 ..   DO   DO   DO   DO   DO   DO 1873   DO 30  DO
The list concludes, “ALL CAME TO AN END EXCEPT THIS ONE.. MEBBE THIS ONE WILL.”

And so too this one.

Lists is well designed and well made, with sturdy binding and thick non-glossy pages. Each listmaker is presented by means of a photograph, some biographical details, and a full-page reproduction of her or his document. There are full descriptions of all documents and blazingly accurate transcriptions of less readable (handwritten) documents. In other words, the book is a bargain, and would be a bargain at a higher price. Lists should be of interest to any reader interested in
1. Painting and drawing.

2. Handwriting and typing.

3. The list as a tool for thinking.
Thanks to the Princeton Architectural Press for a review copy of this book.

Posts with lists
Blue crayon (Supplies for an imaginary camping trip)
Whose list? (A found list)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Errol Morris and David Dunning

There have been many psychological studies that tell us what we see and what we hear is shaped by our preferences, our wishes, our fears, our desires and so forth. We literally see the world the way we want to see it. But the Dunning-Kruger effect suggests that there is a problem beyond that. Even if you are just the most honest, impartial person that you could be, you would still have a problem — namely, when your knowledge or expertise is imperfect, you really don’t know it. Left to your own devices, you just don’t know it. We’re not very good at knowing what we don’t know.
Errol Morris talks with David Dunning about the Dunning-Kruger effect and “unknown unknowns”:

The Anosognosic’s Dilemma (New York Times)

A related post
The Dunning-Kruger effect

Sixty-eight things you didn’t know about Brian Wilson

In honor of his sixty-eighth birthday yesterday: sixty-eight things you didn’t know about Brian Wilson. Several are new to me. Brian Wilson and Thomas Pynchon?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Forty years apart

Where do songs come from? Listen:

Canned Heat, “Going Up the Country” (1968).

Henry Thomas, “Bull Doze Blues” (1928).

Hear?

Canned Heat

My son Ben and I traveled to the delightfully-named city of Effingham, Illinois, to see Canned Heat yesterday afternoon. Canned Heat: as in “Going Up the Country,” Monterey Pop, Woodstock. I’ve been a fan for a very long time, since 1968 or so. (Yes, I was a blues geek.¹) Canned Heat was to my mind the most adventurous, innovative blues-rock group of all, largely because of the musical abilities of Alan Wilson (guitar, harmonica, vocals), whose often-psychedelic reimaginings of pre-war acoustic blues took the band far beyond the more usual blues-rock territory of twelve-bar Chicago blues.

Canned Heat is still a group thanks to the dedicated stewardship of drummer Fito de la Parra, who joined in 1967. He’s been there ever since, through the deaths of three original members (Wilson, Bob “The Bear” Hite, and Henry Vestine) and several later ones. Also playing yesterday: Barry Levenson (guitar), Dale Spalding (bass, guitar, harmonica, vocals), and Larry Taylor (bass, guitar, vocals). Taylor was with Canned Heat from 1967 to 1970 and has played on and off with the group ever since. If you think you recognize that beard: Taylor often plays with Tom Waits.


[Larry Taylor, Dale Spalding, Barry Levenson. June 19, 2010.]


[Larry Taylor. June 19, 2010.]


[Fito de la Parra. June 19, 2010.]

Songs played: “Bullfrog Blues,” “On the Road Again,” “Time Was,” “Fine Little Mama,” “Amphetamine Annie,” “Going Up the Country,” “Future Blues,” “The Story of My Life,” “So Sad (The World’s in a Tangle),” “Sugar Bee,” “Let’s Work Together,” and “Woodstock Boogie” (or at least something with similar lyrics). The musical highlight: Larry Taylor’s comprehensive bass solo on the final boogie. The other highlight: stepping up into an RV after the set to meet the musicians and get autographs.

Canned Heat tours and plays everywhere. We saw the group at a birthday celebration for a motorcycle dealership, Legacy Harley-Davidson. (Bikers and blues geeks alike are fans.) The group’s next stops: Texas and Montana. Then it’s two months in Europe. Take care on the road, Canned Heat.

If you’ve ever wondered: the name Canned Heat comes from Tommy Johnson’s “Canned Heat Blues” (1928), a song about the dangerous pleasures of drinking Sterno.

[Photographs by Michael Leddy.]

Further reading
Canned Heat (Official website)

Related posts
Alan Wilson
Hooker ’n Heat

¹ Still am.

(Thanks, Ben, for making the trip with me.)

Happy Father’s Day



[Photograph by Louise Leddy, February 10, 1957.]

That’s my dad, James Leddy, and me. Happy Father’s Day, Dad. And Happy Father’s Day to all.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Charles Mingus defies bomb threat

Charles Mingus, New Haven, Connecticut, 1972:

“Racism planted that bomb, but racism ain’t strong enough to kill this music. If I’m going to die, I’m ready. But I’m going out playing ‘Sophisticated Lady.’”
The occasion was a concert at Yale University to raise funds for a department of African-American music. When a bomb threat came in, Mingus alone refused to leave the theater and played Duke Ellington’s “Sophisticated Lady,” one of his favorite pieces for solo bass, as Ellington (and everyone else) stood outside the open doors. Quoted in Claudia Roth Pierpont’s May 17, 2010 New Yorker essay on Ellington and race.

A plucky, smart cashier

She was fumbling a bit to get the groceries into the string-bag: “My Tetris skills aren’t working today.”

Friday, June 18, 2010

Namaste, typewriter

The Telegraph reports that the Indian government is saying goodbye to the typewriter:

Over the next few days the last typewriter will be taken from India’s government offices and replaced by the computer, bringing to an end an era that lasted for 80 years. While computers have been gradually replacing typewriters in even the most remote parts of the country, the machine was still used to test the typing skills of aspiring job applicants. The government has decided to do away with such an anomaly.
The article goes on to note that the typewriter has been removed from the list of goods in India’s Wholesale Price Index, “joining other archaic items such as pagers, sewing machines, hair oil and outdated brands of ‘Indian Made Foreign Liquor.’”

India’s government offices finally say goodbye to the typewriter (Telegraph)

A related post
NYPD typewriters (Still in use)

The Odyssey, not a novel

In a Wall Street Journal blog, Alexandra Cheney reports on Wednesday’s Odyssey/Ulysses reading in Manhattan:

Last night Stephen Colbert, Marian Seldes, Barbara Feldon and Stephen Lang, to name a few, found themselves in front of a sold-out audience reading from both Ulysses and Homer’s Odyssey, the theme being the parallels between the two landmark novels.
The Odyssey has been called the first novel (for its complexities of character and narrative), but it is not a novel. It is an epic poem. Ulysses, that’s a novel.

Perry Mason and John Keats

The trial is over. The murderer — who did the deed on Halloween — confessed in the courtroom. Perry Mason, Paul Drake, and Della Street sit in Mason’s office:

MASON (examining a Halloween mask)
    From the religious vigil of All Hallows’ Eve to murder:
    Halloween’s come a long way.

DRAKE (as if reciting poetry)
    Darkness, and worms, and shrouds, and sepulchres.

STREET (a bit surprised)
    Paul, you’re reciting poetry.

DRAKE (innocently)
    Am I?

MASON (as if reciting poetry)
    But strength alone is like a fallen angel: trees uptorn,
    and darkness, and worms, and shrouds, and
    sepulchres.

DRAKE (as if surprised)
    Hey, whaddaya know? Keats.
From John Keats’s “Sleep and Poetry” (1816):
But strength alone though of the Muses born
Is like a fallen angel: trees uptorn,
Darkness, and worms, and shrouds, and sepulchres
Delight it; for it feeds upon the burrs,
And thorns of life; forgetting the great end
Of poesy, that it should be a friend
To sooth the cares, and lift the thoughts of man.
You can watch this scene from “The Case of the Dodging Domino” (1962) at YouTube.

[This post is for my friend Rob Zseleczky, who may be happy to know that you can still find Keats on television these days.]

Thursday, June 17, 2010

“A Day in the Life” lyrics at auction

Tomorrow at Sotheby’s:

Autograph manuscript of John Lennon’s lyrics for the “A Day in the Life,” the final track on the Beatles’ 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, 2 pages (10 1/2 x 7 5/8 in.; 267 x 194 mm) on a single sheet of unruled writing paper, [London, 17 January 1967], comprising 2 complete sets of the lyrics written in black felt marker and blue ballpoint pen, several autograph emendations and corrections (a few of these in red ballpoint pen): (1) the recto bears Lennon’s original first draft, written in a hurried but fully legible cursive script; (2) the verso bears an autograph fair copy written almost entirely in capital letters and evidently prepared for use in the recording studio, incorporating the emendations from the first draft and adding three further ones, numbering the verses 1-4, and indicating the insertion of the phrase “I love to turn you on” after the third verse. A short mended tear at center top margin and tiny hole in center lower margin, neither affecting text, some light marginal stains. Matted, framed, and double-glazed.
This manuscript comes from “the estate or a descendant of Mal Evans.” Estimated price: $500,000–$800,000.

[June 18, 2010: an undentified collector paid $1.2 million.]



Autograph manuscript, “A Day in the Life” (Sotheby’s)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Listening to Robert Johnson

Elaine pointed me to a WNYC.org feature about an ongoing debate concerning the proper playback speed for Robert Johnson’s recordings. Some listeners contend that Johnson’s recordings play at least twenty percent too fast, due to an effort to make the recordings sound more exciting or to faulty equipment.

My knowledge of pre-war blues recording makes the first explanation seem merely outlandish: it assumes on the part of recording personnel an imaginative interest in music and production for which we have no other evidence. Skip James’s 1931 Paramount recording sessions, for instance, involved these elements of production: mints, whiskey, a company guitar, and a board to enhance the sound of James’s stomping.

As for the second explanation, faulty equipment could well play a part in the sound of Johnson’s recordings. But what equipment? And what part? Johnson recorded in San Antonio in November 1936 and in Dallas in June 1937. Can we assume that the same equipment was in use in both places? There are further variables: Johnson’s guitar may have been tuned higher or lower than standard pitch. (Tuning higher gives more punch.) He may have been using a capo (greater punch still). The impossibility of reverse-engineering the circumstances of recording puts me in mind of the title of David Shapiro’s poem “After a Lost Original”: we have no reference point for knowing what Johnson sounded like when recording other than his recordings.

There is though at least one fairly straightforward way to begin thinking about the question of speed: we know the schedule of several days’ worth of recording sessions that preceded and followed Johnson’s, with Mexican musicians, old-timey musicians, and Western swing groups (all listed in the booklet accompanying the 1990 CD release of Johnson’s recordings). Such recordings as are still available could provide a basis for comparison: slow them down too and find out what they sound like. Of course, making these kinds of comparisons would involve thinking of Robert Johnson as one musician among many in a world of makeshift studios, not as a musician whose recordings can be removed from historical context and adjusted to suit the twenty-first-century listener’s sense of what sounds right.

One more consideration: I know of no Johnson associate ever commenting on differences between Johnson’s recordings and his non-studio performances. Indeed, there’s a remarkable moment in The Search for Robert Johnson (dir. Chris Hunt, 1992), when Willie Mae Powell, the “Willie Mae” of Johnson’s “Love in Vain,” hears for the first time the 1937 recording of the song she inspired. Her face opens wide when she hears Johnson sing her name. There’s no question that the voice she is hearing is a familiar one.

And that doesn’t surprise me. To my ears, the drastically slow samples available online are deeply unconvincing. The “Cross Road Blues” played in the WNYC feature (link below) sounds lethargic, lifeless, like someone singing in slow motion. One industrious listener with a Technics turntable has made available very slightly slower versions that may be more convincing. But if they are more convincing, that would be because they sound very much like Johnson’s recordings as we’ve known them.

Further reading and listening
Steady Rollin’ Man (With musical samples)
Slow Down, Robert Johnson! (WNYC)
Robert Johnson revelation tells us to put the brakes on the blues (Guardian)

And earlier today, WNYC linked to a comment on the speed question by Elijah Wald, author of the excellent Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues (New York: Amistad, 2004). I wrote this post before reading what Wald has written.

[The details of Skip James’s 1931 recording sessions may be found in Stephen Calt’s I’d Rather Be the Devil: Skip James and the Blues (New York: Da Capo, 1994), the best book on blues I’ve read.]

(Thanks, Elaine!)

Hi and Lois watch

In August 2008, the sight of baby Trixie riding in the front seat of a car turned me from casual Hi and Lois reader to close reader. No job too small!

In today’s strip, Trixie is wondering about where the dirt in the vacuum cleaner goes:


[Hi and Lois, June 16, 2010.]

The scene calls for some sort of response. I think I have it: HI! AND LOIS! CHILD-PROOF YOUR OUTLETS! Yes, I’m shouting.


[Hi and Lois, June 16, 2010, with reader-supplied outlet cover.]

Related reading
All Hi and Lois posts

Ulysses on the air

You can watch a live broadcast of readings from James Joyce’s Ulysses and Homer’s Odyssey (in Robert Fagles’s translation) tonight at WNYC.org (7:00 Eastern).

The crowdpleaser: Stephen Colbert as Odysseus in the Cyclops episode of the Odyssey.

Bloomsday 2010

Bloomsday: Thursday, June 16, 1904, the day during which most of the events of James Joyce’s Ulysses take place. In the early morning of June 17, 1904, Leopold Bloom is putting water on to boil. He is making cocoa for his guest Stephen Dedalus and himself:

What in water did Bloom, waterlover, drawer of water, watercarrier, returning to the range, admire?

Its universality: its democratic equality and constancy to its nature in seeking its own level: its vastness in the ocean of Mercator’s projection: its unplumbed profundity in the Sundam trench of the Pacific exceeding 8000 fathoms: the restlessness of its waves and surface particles visiting in turn all points of its seaboard: the independence of its units: the variability of states of sea: its hydrostatic quiescence in calm: its hydrokinetic turgidity in neap and spring tides: its subsidence after devastation: its sterility in the circumpolar icecaps, arctic and antarctic: its climatic and commercial significance: its preponderance of 3 to 1 over the dry land of the globe: its indisputable hegemony extending in square leagues over all the region below the subequatorial tropic of Capricorn: the multisecular stability of its primeval basin: its luteofulvous bed: its capacity to dissolve and hold in solution all soluble substances including millions of tons of the most precious metals: its slow erosions of peninsulas and islands, its persistent formation of homothetic islands, peninsulas and downwardtending promontories: its alluvial deposits: its weight and volume and density: its imperturbability in lagoons and highland tarns: its gradation of colours in the torrid and temperate and frigid zones: its vehicular ramifications in continental lakecontained streams and confluent oceanflowing rivers with their tributaries and transoceanic currents, gulfstream, north and south equatorial courses: its violence in seaquakes, waterspouts, artesian wells, eruptions, torrents, eddies, freshets, spates, groundswells, watersheds, waterpartings, geysers, cataracts, whirlpools, maelstroms, inundations, deluges, cloudbursts: its vast circumterrestrial ahorizontal curve: its secrecy in springs and latent humidity, revealed by rhabdomantic or hygrometric instruments and exemplified by the well by the hole in the wall at Ashtown gate, saturation of air, distillation of dew: the simplicity of its composition, two constituent parts of hydrogen with one constituent part of oxygen: its healing virtues: its buoyancy in the waters of the Dead Sea: its persevering penetrativeness in runnels, gullies, inadequate dams, leaks on shipboard: its properties for cleansing, quenching thirst and fire, nourishing vegetation: its infallibility as paradigm and paragon: its metamorphoses as vapour, mist, cloud, rain, sleet, snow, hail: its strength in rigid hydrants: its variety of forms in loughs and bays and gulfs and bights and guts and lagoons and atolls and archipelagos and sounds and fjords and minches and tidal estuaries and arms of sea: its solidity in glaciers, icebergs, icefloes: its docility in working hydraulic millwheels, turbines, dynamos, electric power stations, bleachworks, tanneries, scutchmills: its utility in canals, rivers, if navigable, floating and graving docks: its potentiality derivable from harnessed tides or watercourses falling from level to level: its submarine fauna and flora (anacoustic, photophobe), numerically, if not literally, the inhabitants of the globe: its ubiquity as constituting 90% of the human body: the noxiousness of its effluvia in lacustrine marshes, pestilential fens, faded flowerwater, stagnant pools in the waning moon.

James Joyce, Ulysses (1922)
[Hydrokinetic: “relating to the motion of liquids.” Multisecular: “that has existed for many ages; recurring in, or involving many ages.” Luteofulvous: “of a tawny yellow colour.” Homothetic: “similar and similarly placed.” Waterparting: “watershed.” Rhabdomantic: “related to rhabdomancy” (”divination by means of a rod or wand; spec. a technique for searching for underground water, minerals, etc.; dowsing”). Hygrometric: “belonging to hygrometry; measuring, or relating to, the degree of humidity of the atmosphere or other bodies”. Scutch: “to dress (fibrous material, flax, hemp, cotton, silk, wool) by beating.” Lacustrine: “of or pertaining to a lake or lakes.” Definitions from the Oxford English Dictionary. This passage provides the first OED citation for multisecular.]

Other Bloomsday posts
2007 (The first page)
2008 (“Love’s Old Sweet Song”)
2009 (Marilyn Monroe reading Ulysses)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Narcissism and overconfidence

Narcissists love to win, but in most settings they aren’t that great at actually winning. For example, college students with inflated views of themselves (who think they are better than they actually are) make poorer grades the longer they are in college. They are also more likely to drop out. In another study, students who flunked an introductory psychology course had by far the highest narcissism scores, and those who made A’s had the lowest. Apparently the narcissists were wildly unrealistic about how they were doing and persisted in their lofty illusions when they should have dropped the course (or perhaps done something radical, like study).

In other words, overconfidence backfires. This makes some sense; narcissists are lousy at taking criticism and learning from mistakes. They also like to blame everyone and everything except themselves for their shortcomings. Second, they lack motivation to improve because they believe they have already made it: when you were born on home plate, why run around the bases? Third, overconfidence itself can lead to poor performance. If you think you know all the answers, there’s no need to study. Then you take the test and fail. Oops.

Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell, The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement (New York: Free Press, 2009).
Students often cannot afford to drop a course: health insurance and student loans typically require full-time status. But not dropping because of “lofty illusions,” even when a passing grade is mathematically impossible, is indeed something new and strange. I see the profs in the audience nodding.

A related post
The Dunning-Kruger effect

Monday, June 14, 2010

Marcus Aurelius on distraction

Do externals tend to distract you? Then give yourself the space to learn some further good lesson, and stop your wandering.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, translated by Martin Hammond (New York: Penguin, 2006)

“Southern Half”

“Did JFK own a globe?” (xkcd)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bathroom remodeling

My son Ben passes on a suggestion for bathroom remodeling. Thanks, Ben!

Tazo Wild Sweet Orange

Orange tea art: “lemongrass, blackberry leaves, citric acid, rose hips, spearmint, natural flavors, orange peel, safflower, hibiscus flowers, rose petals, natural orange essence, ginger, and licorice root.”

Wild Sweet Orange tastes like two teas in one, mellow orange and zingy lemongrass. (Mmm … lemongrass.)

This tea would go well with this mug, no?

A related post
Decaf-tea taste-tests

Friday, June 11, 2010

Mozy :)

The Mozy story comes to a happy ending (I think). From Mozy’s discussion pages: “The ConnectionError issue is fixed and your backups should be running smooth again.” Work is still underway on an unrelated problem I’m not familiar with.

I’m impressed that Mozy has recognized the need for better communication with its customers. As I wrote in an e-mail to the company earlier this week, the frustrating thing with the ConnectionError issue for me was not so much the lack of backup as it was the lack of response from Mozy. The company’s increased presence in discussion threads about the issue shows a genuine interest in doing a better job of responding to customers’ concerns. And backup now works.

And yes, I can again recommend Mozy.

Related posts
Mozy :(
Mozy, continued

David Foster Wallace
commencement audio

A recording of David Foster Wallace delivering his 2005 Kenyon College commencement address is now available from Audible.com. The recording may also be had from Amazon and iTunes.

Every young adult in the country should read this speech. (Or, okay, listen to.)

(via kottke.org)

Domestic comedy

“Every year, I get closer to being Aunt Bee’s age.”

Related reading
All “domestic comedy” posts

Mozy, continued, continued

I’ve updated a post detailing problems with the online backup service Mozy. This story may — may — be moving toward a happy ending.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The ’sation

The word halfalogue — meaning “an overheard one-sided cellphone conversation” — is now in the air. I want to suggest an alternative, which I invented while taking a walk with my wife Elaine this morning:

’sation \ 'sā-shən \ noun
: an overheard one-sided cellphone conversation

Sample sentence: That ’sation almost drove me crazy.
’Sation is derived from the (now nearly archaic) word conversation. A ’sation is half a conversation.

’Sations can offer bits of lurid entertainment and truth-telling. But more often, ’sations are merely annoying (just like the apostrophe that introduces the word). If it’s true that ’sations are more difficult than conversations to ignore, I would guess that at least two factors are involved: an alertness to unfamilar patterns of speech and silence and the mind’s disposition to make meaningful what we hear.

(Thanks for the walk, Elaine!)

More made-up words
Humormeter : oveness : power-sit : skeptiphobia

Infinite Jest, “almost grotesquely lovely”

The young woman known as the P.G.O.A.T. (“the Prettiest Girl of All Time”) is “almost grotesquely lovely”:

She made the Moms look like the sort of piece of fruit you think you want to take out of the bin and but then once you’re right there over the bin you put back because from close up you can see a much fresher and less preserved-seeming piece of fruit elsewhere in the bin.

David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest (Boston: Little, Brown, 1996).
It’s that repeated bin that makes this sentence (to me at least) so funny.

Other Infinite Jest posts
Attention : Description : Romance : Telephony

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Mozy, continued, continued

I’ve updated the second of two posts detailing problems with the online backup service Mozy. It’s now sixteen days with no backup.

Jack Kerouac’s last typewriter



On June 22, 2010, Christie’s will auction a Hermes 3000 manual typewriter that belonged to Jack Kerouac. He used it from 1966 to 1969 (the year of his death). The estimated price: $20,000–$30,000. Says Christie’s,

This typewriter had to make a visit to the repairman in January 1969. The repairman’s receipt for $22.83 (which survives in the Kerouac Papers), diagnoses the problem as “Dropped.” The Kerouac Papers also contain the Hermes operating manual for this typewriter.
The machine is described as being “in good working condition.” There’s also an Army surplus backpack for sale.

[June 22, 2010: The typewriter sold for $22,500.]

Jack Kerouac’s backpack and typewriter (Christie’s)

Infinite Jest, romance

Brothers Orin and Hal Incandenza are talking on the telephone. Orin can’t remember the name of the woman he is attempting to seduce:

“I guess I’ll have to get back to you on that.”

“Boy, you really put the small r in romance, don’t you.”

David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest (Boston: Little, Brown, 1996).
Other Infinite Jest posts
Attention : Description : Telephony

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Write 5 sentence [sic] about cat

Another Google search, another student-driver stuck in my driveway, so to speak. Add an introductory “The cat is on the mat” to this passage to get the magic number five:

[I]f my saying that the cat is on the mat implies that I believe it to be so, it is not the case that my not believing that the cat is on the mat implies that the cat is not on the mat (in ordinary English). And again, we are not concerned here with the inconsistency of propositions: they are perfectly compatible: it may be the case at once that the cat is on the mat but I do not believe that it is. But we cannot in the other case say “it may be the case at once that the cat is on the mat but the mat is not under the cat.” Or again, here it is saying that “the cat is on the mat,” which is not possible along with saying “I do not believe that it is”; the assertion implies a belief.

J.L. Austin, How to Do Things with Words (1962)
Or again, do your own homework. That’s the way to learn something.

Related posts
Five sentences from Bleak House
Five sentences about clothes
5 sentences about life on the moon
Five sentences on the ship
Five sentences for smoking
Write five sentences in the past
Five more sentences in the past

Infinite Jest and the iPhone

Apple’s new iPhone offers FaceTime. Says Apple,

People have been dreaming about video calling for decades. iPhone 4 makes it a reality. With the tap of a button, you can wave hello to your kids, share a smile from across the globe, or watch your best friend laugh at your stories — iPhone 4 to iPhone 4 over Wi-Fi. No other phone makes staying in touch this much fun.
This FaceTime video tugs at eleventyteen human heartstrings in under two minutes. It would appear that no one at Apple is daunted by what David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest has to say about “video telephony” and “good old voice-only telephoning.”

Monday, June 7, 2010

Review: Made by Hand

Mark Frauenfelder. Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World. New York. Portfolio. 2010. $25.95.

In an America in which almost all things are boughten, Made by Hand celebrates what has become known as maker culture, which itself celebrates the pleasures of self-reliance and imperfection.¹ Mark Frauenfelder, co-editor of Boing Boing and editor of Make, has written not a manifesto but a sequence of engaging stories drawn from life, the first of which tells of moving with his wife and children from California to the South Pacific island of Rarotonga. Frauenfelder soon realized that the possibilities of a better life were to be found not in a different place but in a different approach to daily living: less buying, more making. Thus begin his efforts, back in California, to acquire various sets of skills — growing fruits and vegetables, modifying an espresso machine, raising chickens, keeping bees, building cigarbox guitars, carving wooden spoons, and making fermented foods, all undertaken with an intention of becoming “more mindful of our daily activities, more appreciative of what we have, and more engaged with the systems and things that keep us alive and well.”

The emphasis throughout Made by Hand is not “how-to” but “why-to”: there are no diagrams, no project plans, though there are useful bits of advice along the way, both project-specific (“Screws, not glues”) and universal (cross your property line — in other words, go to the store — and you’ll get nothing done for the rest of the day). As someone who teaches, I especially like what Frauenfelder says about mistakes as a necessary means of learning. Proceeding by trial and error (and more error), he gains deeper respect for art and nature, and greater confidence in his ability to solve problems. In this learning process, there is of course no escaping consumer culture: Made by Hand is filled with trips to buy lumber, tools, and beekeeping supplies. The investments of time and money sometimes make for difficult practical questions, as when Frauenfelder wonders whether a daily handful of eggs justifies the work of a coop and fence for chickens. In such situations, one must take a long view, weighing costs against future returns, both tangible and intangible.² And those returns are significant indeed. As Frauenfelder and his family come to agree, “Recreational shopping . . . is no match for recreational making.”

Reading Made by Hand makes me think of a famous WWII-era poster, which I’m now tempted to revise: Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do. Or — make it yourself.

Thanks to Portfolio for a review copy of this book.

¹ I like the word “boughten,” borrowed from Robert Frost’s poem “Provide, Provide”: “Better to go down dignified / With boughten friendship at your side / Than none at all. Provide, provide!”

² The long view can also be a handy way to justify buying, say, a nice fountain pen.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Pencil headline



What is this I see in the San Francisco Examiner? The stirring tale of a civic-minded soul, one “Park,” telling Gavin Newsom about the many fine qualities of the humblest of writing instruments?

No, that is not it at all.

My daughter Rachel probably knows the exact name for the type of ambiguity this sentence exhibits. I know it only as “some.”

Marriage, something to work on

“[I]f there is a lesson from the Gore breakup, it’s that with marriage, you’re never done working on it.”

It’s true. Read more:

What Brain Scans Can Tell Us About Marriage (New York Times)

Mozy, continued

The Mozy situation seems to be improving. Yesterday morning, I sent an e-mail (with a link to this post) to Mozy’s Press/Public Relations address. Later in the day, a long statement from Mozy Support Services Manager John Livingston appeared in the Mozy Community discussions of Windows and Mac backup problems. And when I checked my e-mail last night, I found a message from John asking me to e-mail or call him about my backup problem and Mozy’s response. I called last night, and we talked at length.

The discussion post, e-mail, and phone conversation suggest to me that the people at Mozy have a genuine interest in doing a better job of responding to customers’ backup problems. And it turns out that long-time users of Mozy’s free service can open Support Tickets. (See my earlier post for the details.)

Long story short: a senior engineer is looking at my backup problem (which, it turns out, may not be the same as everyone else’s backup problem). Stay tuned for further developments.

[June 8, 2010: It’s now fifteen days with no backup.}

[June 9, 2010: I received an e-mail today telling me that I need to to call Mozy tech support for instructions on how to “restore from a previous date.” I’m not sure why I need to restore, as I’ve lost nothing on my computer. I tried calling tech support twice. The first time I was disconnected. The second time, I gave up after waiting more than an hour. (Total time on hold: 105 minutes.) I’ve e-mailed a request for written instructions, having found nothing relevant in Mozy’s online Knowledge Base. It’s now sixteen days with no backup.]

[June 11, 2010: In the spirit of DIY, I uninstalled and reinstalled Mozy (why not?) and started a backup. It seems — seems — to have worked, though slowly: backing up took almost twenty-four hours. I’ve sent my log file to Mozy’s tech support (as requested). I’ve also crossed my fingers.]

[June 11, 2010: at tech support’s request, I tried backing up again with the addition of one very large file. (My choice: the wonderful short film 3rd Ave. El, from the Prelinger Archives.) This file went through very quickly. Things seem to be working once again.]

[June 11, 2010: Happy ending.]

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Comic-strip anachronisms

Henry, who lives in a world in which children shoot marbles and dress like Buster Brown, is about to learn the Twist.

And in Beetle Bailey’s world, electric razors still work the old-fashioned way.


[Beetle Bailey, June 5, 2010.]

Related posts
Betty Boop with Henry
Today’s Beetle Bailey

Friday, June 4, 2010

Mozy :(

I’ve long been an enthusiastic user of the online backup service Mozy. I’ve recommended Mozy to family and friends, and I’ve offered my referral code — get your free megabytes! — to interested readers. In 2008, I wrote a post that told two tales of tech support, contrasting dismal Technorati (since grown only more dismal) and smart, speedy Mozy.

But now Mozy seems to be a mess. A server problem has made it impossible for many users to back up their data — which, after all, is the whole point. I’m on the tenth day without backup. The company now says it has “a fix” and that all users should soon find Mozy working. I hope so. But these two threads from Mozy’s “community” pages suggest a company that’s largely indifferent to the concerns and frustrations of its customers. Moreover, I’ve discovered that I now have no way to e-mail Mozy to report a problem. Here’s what the website says about Mozy’s “My Cases” option: “This tab is not shown to everybody. If you can see this tab, you can click on it and see all of your open Support Tickets.” What’s left unsaid here is that only paying customers can open tickets. As a user of Mozy’s free service (that’s all I need), I’m stuck with the “community.” In other words: discuss among yourselves. Users who have opened tickets report general disappointment anyway.

Worse still: Mozy’s front page and blog make no mention of a general problem or an effort to solve it. The most recent post, from May 18, is about a Twitter contest. Sheesh.

Word up, Mozy: when one has a problem backing up, one immediately assumes that there’s something wrong with one’s computer or connection. If the problem is on your end, and you know that, let your users know and save them some trouble. If you would prefer not to announce the problem on your site, an e-mail would suffice: “Many users are currently experiencing problems,” &c.

If, reader, you’ve read this far, you can guess what the final sentence of this post is about to say: I can no longer recommend Mozy.

[June 6, 2010: As I learned last night, long-time users of Mozy’s free service can open Support Tickets. The trick is to log in here, not here, and then go the Support page. The story continues, and I hope to be able to recommend Mozy again.]

[June 9, 2010: It’s now fifteen days with no backup.]

[June 11, 2010: Happy ending.]

Decaf-tea taste-tests

Elaine and I traveled to our test-kitchens yesterday afternoon to sample and score the six decaffeinated black teas we have on hand. We prepared all teas in the same way: five minutes steeping before removing the bag, then another five minutes to cool. All tasting was as blind as we could make it: after putting numbered Post-it Notes on cups and writing names and numbers on index cards, we soon lost track of which cup held which tea. Elaine used a cup of non-decaffeinated PG Tips in her judging. We tasted, made notes, and ranked each tea. No peeking. When we compared notes, we were surprised by the ways in which our tastes diverged and converged. Here are the overall results, from least favored to most favored:

6: Red Rose. Elaine doesn’t like regular Red Rose, so her low mark here is no surprise. I’ve always liked regular Red Rose and found something to like in the decaffeinated version. Elaine ranked this tea last. I had it in third place.

5, 4: A tie between Twinings English Breakfast and Twinings Irish Breakfast. We were in agreement that these teas were undistinguished. To our tastes, Twinings decaf teas have very little of the flavor that makes regular Twinings teas so pleasurable. Elaine ranked these teas third (Irish) and fourth (English). I ranked them fourth (English) and fifth (Irish). I was surprised to find myself preferring English Breakfast to Irish Breakfast.

3, 2: A tie between Lipton and Trader Joe’s Irish Breakfast. Here our tastes were at odds. Lipton was Elaine’s most favored tea. She found in it “a bit of an edge” and “tea aftertaste, or finish, if you will.” (Yes, she was kidding around.) I on the other hand had Lipton dead last. “Tastes like hot water,” I wrote. We diverged a little less dramatically on Trader Joe’s: Elaine had it in fifth place; I had it in second. What struck Elaine’s taste buds as “pale” and “weak” struck mine as somewhat hearty. Then again, I didn’t have a cup of PG Tips for comparison.

1: Tetley British Blend. The surprise champ: Elaine had it in second place; I had it in first. “Deeper — more minty, but no finish,” said Elaine. “More tannins, aroma, more flavor, much better,” said I. I suspect that removing caffeine from tea leaves removes some of the tannins that give tea its pleasantly astringent quality. The Tetley package notes that British Blend tea bags contain more tea (2.5 g) than “standard” tea bags (2.0 g): perhaps that accounts for Tetley’s stronger flavor.

Nothing fancy here: aside from Trader Joe’s Irish Breakfast, these teas may all be had in most American supermarkets. As I do more hunting and gathering, I’ll share more taste-test results.

While writing this post, I remembered listening to a story on NPR about tea-auctions and tea-tastings in Kenya. You might want to listen.

A related post
Caffeine-free

Stephen Colbert, Vampire Weekend, and the Oxford comma

Stephen Colbert and Vampire Weekend debate the Oxford comma. With a special guest appearance by The Elements of Style.

Related posts
How to punctuate a sentence (Includes the Oxford comma)
How to punctuate more sentences

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Mug shot



[Pantone orange mug. Photograph by Michael Leddy.]

Coming soon, decaf-tea taste-tests. Stay tuned. Stay hyphenated.

Other posts with orange
Crate art, orange : Orange art, no crate : Orange crate art : Orange crate art (Encyclopedia Brown) : Orange flag art : Orange notebook art : Orange soda art : Orange timer art : Orange toothbrush art : Orange train art

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Review: The Checklist Manifesto

Atul Gawande. The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right. New York. Metropolitan Books. 2009. $24.50.

This book’s argument can be stated in six words: In complex situations, checklists prevent mistakes.

Or to raise the stakes: In complex situations, checklists save lives.

Gawande (MacArthur Fellow, surgeon, med school professor) tells stories from the worlds of aviation, construction, and medicine that make these points. Alas, The Checklist Manifesto offers little evidence of how checklists are designed and improved, of how they are made useful and more useful — in short, of what they look like. There’s not a single photograph, not a single list. I wouldn’t expect Gawande to be Edward Tufte, but the subject seems to call for at least a modest array of sample documents. (And now I’m thinking about what Tufte could do with this subject matter.)

For a reader outside medicine, the value of The Checklist Manifesto might be loosely inspirational, prompting thought about what practices in life and work might be improved with the use of a checklist. Worth reading, but best borrowed from a library. (That’s how I read it, following the advice in this note to self.) Or just read Gawande’s New Yorker piece “The Checklist.”

Related posts
Blue crayon (Checklist for an imaginary camping trip)
Whose list? (A found checklist)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The iPad and dolphins (for real)

[June 3, 2010: This story is now everywhere. I’m thrilled to have been the guy who got the story out, by following up on the comment that Jack Kassewitz left on my post about the Onion story.]

Back in March, in the pages of The Onion, Beepo the Dolphin wondered whether the iPad and other tablet devices owned up to the hype. Now a May 23, 2010 press release from Jack Kassewitz at SpeakDolphin describes a non-fictional dolphin, Merlin, using — really using — the iPad:

Last week, a young bottlenose dolphin named Merlin became the first of his species to join the growing number of enthusiasts using the Apple iPad. Dolphin research scientist, Jack Kassewitz of SpeakDolphin.com, introduced the iPad to the dolphin in early steps towards building a language interface.

“The use of the iPad is part of our continuing search to find a suitable touch screen technology which the dolphins can activate with the tip of their rostrums or beaks. After extensive searching and product review, it looks like our choice is between the Panasonic Toughbook and the Apple iPad,” Kassewitz explained. “We think that once the dolphins get the hang of the touch screen, we can let them choose from a wide assortment of symbols to represent objects, actions and even emotions.”

Kassewitz explained the requirements of the technology. “Waterproofing, processor speed, touch-sensitivity, anti-glare screens, and dolphin-friendly programs are essential. As this database of dolphin symbols grows — we’ll need fast technology to help us respond appropriately and quickly to the dolphins.”

The research was being conducted at Dolphin Discovery’s dolphin swim facility in Puerto Aventuras, Mexico, along the picturesque coast now referred to as the Riviera Maya. The dolphin, Merlin, is a juvenile, born at the facility only two years ago. “Merlin is quite curious, like most dolphins, and he showed complete willingness to examine the iPad,” said Kassewitz.

For now, the researchers are getting Merlin used to the touch screen by showing him real objects, such as a ball, cube or plastic duck, then asking the dolphin to touch photos of those same objects on the screen. “This is an easy task for a dolphin, but it is a necessary building block towards our goal of a complete language interface between humans and dolphins,” Kassewitz said.



[Merlin, iPad 3G, and Jack Kassewitz in Mexico. JK notes that when this photograph was taken, the iPad was not yet available in Mexico. It was thus an object of human as well as dolphin curiosity. Thanks to Jack Kassewitz, who sent me the press release after seeing my post about the Onion spoof.]

The dash

Marie Murray considers the dash:

Taking time out to consider the dash is therapeutic. It is an indulgence that is available and free. For the dash is a positive signal. It is going somewhere — a mark on the move — not something that arrests development of the sentence, but something that elaborates and expands, deviates and delights, in one stroke.
Read more:

When times are tough, we need to dash (Irish Times)

Overheard

“And Chris is gonna be unemployed, which is gonna be awesome!”

[In the words of Peter Wheatstraw in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man (1952), “You kinda young, daddy-o.”]

Related reading
All “Overheard” posts