Friday, September 30, 2011

Linda Hunt on acting

From a profile of Linda Hunt:

“I couldn’t imagine any other life for myself. This happens to kids who are different in any way. How am I going to make a life? Who am I going to be when I grow up? Will there be a place for me in the world? Acting gave me a sense of purpose, but it also gave me a sense that I would survive, that I would find my place.”

Jace Lacob, The Cult of Linda Hunt (The Daily Beast)
Boston, 1984: Elaine and I were fortunate to see Linda Hunt in the Boston Shakespeare Company’s production of Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage (dir. Peter Sellars). What a performance. The music was by Van Dyke Parks, long before I knew his name.

Happy anniversary, Elaine.

[Twenty-seven years!]

Diane Schirf’s relics

Diane Schirf is memorializing what she calls “relics,” “bygone (or altered) things, products, services, and brands.” She’s started with “the one-color, non-sticky postage stamp.”

Hi and Lois watch

[Hi and Lois, September 30, 2011.]

Odd: the rooms of the Flagston residence are sometimes missing all furniture, yet this guy has an easy chair to the side of his front door. I wonder if there’s a new man on the line at Hi-Lo Amalgamated.

Related reading
All Hi and Lois posts

[And since we’re doing close reading, “Halloween is a month away” would be more logical: a month away, not a month away (as opposed to — what? — a week away?).]

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Kindle Fire kindles fears

On Amazon’s Kindle Fire:

Amazon will capture and control every Web transaction performed by Fire users. Every page they see, every link they follow, every click they make, every ad they see is going to be intermediated by one of the largest server farms on the planet. People who cringe at the data-mining implications of the Facebook Timeline ought to be just floored by the magnitude of Amazon’s opportunity here. Amazon now has what every storefront lusts for: the knowledge of what other stores your customers are shopping in and what prices they’re being offered there. . . .

This is the first shot in the new war for replacing the Internet with a privatized merchant data-aggregation network.

Chris Espinosa on the Kindle Fire (cdespinosa’s posterous, via Daring Fireball)
I keep thinking about whether it’s wise to buy books from a corporation whose CEO has this to say about books:
“I kind of am grumpy when I am forced to read a physical book. Because it’s not as convenient. Turning the pages . . . I didn’t know this either, until I started using the Kindles a couple months ago, I mean a couple years ago, I didn’t understand all of the failings of a physical book, because I’m inured to them. But you can’t turn the page with one hand. The book is always flopping itself shut at the wrong moment. They’re heavy. You can only take one or two of them with you at a time. It’s had a great 500-year run. [Audience laughter.] It’s an unbelievably successful technology. But it’s time to change.”

For Jeff Bezos, the “great run” for books is over. Really? (Los Angeles Times)
Update, October 1, 2011: Amazon’s response to the question of whether it will track browsing and alter its offerings accordingly is “no.” An Amazon spokesperson says that “URLs are used to troubleshoot and diagnose Amazon Silk technical issues.” Read more:

(Amazon) Silk or a spider web? (GigaOM, via Daring Fireball).

On “Surf Board Riding.”

I posted an illustration earlier today (from Henry Seidel Canby and John Baker Opdycke’s 1918 book Good English) for the pleasure of its improbability: youngsters in period-apparel atop surfboards (or “surf boards”). To my eyes, the scene looks like something from the imagination of Glen Baxter. Here it is again:


As I think about this illustration and its writing prompt, I begin to see them as more than an occasion for twenty-first-century amusement. The prompt asks the student to read the illustration in a number of ways, one of which involves putting together an implied narrative (clockwise from bottom right) that shows how to ride a surfboard. I like it that the writers drop no hints, allowing the student the pleasure of discovering that narrative independently. And though it’s a surfer dude who rides the wave, I like it that young ladies are sharing in the danger and excitement of the sport. Good English seems to be a forward-looking textbook: it seems no coincidence that its final illustration depicts a young woman making a speech in favor of women’s right to vote. (Congress passed the Nineteenth Amendment in 1918).

I also like the writers’ willingness to expose their reader to what is most likely unfamiliar. Diane Ravitch’s The Language Police (2003) points out many ways in which present-day textbook publishers create generic realities in texts for reading. The vivid example I remember: no stories with mountains, because some children don’t live near mountains. Canby and Opdycke understood that reading need not reflect the reader’s reality. They knew what some present-day “educators” need to relearn.

“Surf Board Riding.”

Your assignment:

Surf board riding is a popular sport with the bathers on the beautiful beach at Waikiki near Honolulu. It is also indulged in at sea beach resorts nearer home. The picture below shows what the board is like and how the “riding” is done. Explain what each one in the picture is doing. From your study of the picture tell some one else how to enjoy the sport. Make each paragraph count for a definite point in each explanation.


[Henry Seidel Canby and John Baker Opdycke, Good English. Illustrated by Maud and Miska Petersham. (New York: Macmillan, 1918). Click for larger waves.]
From Wikipedia
Henry Seidel Canby
Maud and Miska Petersham

[John Baker Opdycke (d. 1956) was a journalist and head of the Haaren High School English Department in New York City.]

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Beach Boys’ reunion?

Rolling Stone reports that the four surviving Beach Boys (Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston) are planning a 2012 fiftieth-anniversary reunion tour. Brian Wilson seems to be nothing but honest about what’s behind the decision:

Asked if he’s looking forward to the anniversary, he responds, “Not particularly,” adding, “I don’t really like working with the guys, but it all depends on how we feel and how much money’s involved. Money’s not the only reason I made rec­ords, but it does hold a place in our lives.”

Beach Boys Plan Anniversary Blowout With Likely Reunion Tour (Rolling Stone)
Way to manage your artistic legacy there, Brian.

Can you name the film?

I woke up this morning thinking of the ending of a film whose plot involves a heist of some sort. The ending takes place at an airport, where a suitcase filled with money falls off a baggage cart and opens. Bills fly everywhere. I think the film dates from the 1960s. I’m not sure if it’s in color.

Reader, can you name the film?

[Sometimes the Google is of no avail.]

Update: But readers are. The title is in the comments, and I’m grateful.

Paul Chiappe’s pencil drawings

Paul Chiappe’s pencil drawings look like eerie, blurred school photographs.

(via CollabCubed)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Poetry stamps

I just went to check whether the poet William Carlos Williams has appeared on a United States postage stamp. He hasn’t. But it turns out that the Postal Service just announced a 2012 set of stamps honoring American poets: Elizabeth Bishop, Joseph Brodsky, Gwendolyn Brooks, E.E. Cummings, Robert Hayden, Denise Levertov, Sylvia Plath, Theodore Roethke, Wallace Stevens, and Williams. Welcome news. The literary critic Hugh Kenner, in a documentary about Williams: “A great poet is one who makes a difference to the art of poetry. I think it’s as simple as that. And he made more difference to American poetry than anyone other than Walt Whitman.”

Related reading
Rutherford native and author of Paterson poem commemorated in stamp (Northjersey.com)

Stamps of the living

The New York Times reports that beginning in 2012, the United States Postal Service will begin considering the non-dead as stamp subjects:

When the news broke Monday on the Web sites of various news organizations, including The New York Times, readers began promoting their favorite candidates. Popular nominees included Lady Gaga, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Bob Dylan. CBS News gave readers a choice, listing options like Neil Armstrong (very popular) and Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook (not so much).
Armstrong and Dylan, yes. If there is a Gates stamp, there will have to be a Jobs stamp first, so that the Gates stamp’s designer has something to imitate.

What living person would you like to see on a U.S. stamp? Pete Seeger comes first to my mind. Among the dead, Eudora Welty, who did, after all, write the short story “Why I Live at the P.O.”

Blackwing sightings

It’s reassuring to know that I’m not the only person noticing supplies in film. At the Blackwing Pages, there are sightings of Blackwing pencils in The Glenn Miller Story (dir. Anthony Mann, 1954) and Unfaithfully Yours (dir. Preston Sturges, 1948).

A related post
A Blackwing in Lord Love a Duck

[Supplies is my word, and has become my family’s word, for all manner of stationery items.]

Pocket notebook sighting

[“You see, there’s five more weeks’ interest”: Abe Reles (Peter Falk) is about to make Joey Collins (Stuart Whitman) an offer he cannot refuse. Click for a larger view.]

The Schemer isn’t the only hoodlum who keeps his accounts in a six-ring pocket notebook. Killer-for-hire Abe Reles does the same. Murder, Inc. (dir. Burt Balaban and Stuart Rosenberg, 1960) is a crime story with a split personality, dwelling on Falk’s Reles (a combination of Brando and Cagney) before shifting to a faux-documentary police procedural with voiceover. As much as I like that narrative style, I wish they’d stayed with Reles: Falk’s performance is brilliant and scary.

[Click for a larger view. See the name Joey to the left of the paper clip?]

More notebook sightings
Angels with Dirty Faces : Cat People : Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne : Extras : Journal d’un curé de campagne : The House on 92nd Street : The Lodger : The Mystery of the Wax Museum : The Palm Beach Story : Pickpocket : Pickup on South Street : Quai des Orfèvres : Red-Headed Woman : Rififi : The Sopranos : Spellbound : T-Men : Union Station

Monday, September 26, 2011

Letters

Please, put on a hat and step into my time-travel machine. And men, please remove your hats once inside:

Dear Ella,

Bert and I had such a good time at your card party last month that we want to play host and hostess this time. Could you and Wayne come over Monday evening, December the second, around eight-thirty? We’ll play either Bridge or Canasta, whichever you prefer. The Finnegans and the Nortons will be here, too. You know them, I believe, and they are all excellent card players.

The game and the evening would not be complete without you and Wayne. Please say you’ll come.

                                           Sincerely,
                                               Sue

*

Dear Sue,

Wayne and I both appreciate your attractive invitation to play cards at your home on December second. We can’t think of a pleasanter way to spend an evening, particularly as we are Canasta enthusiasts at the moment. Unfortunately, it will be impossible for us to be there with you. My Aunt Harriet in Illinois has asked us to visit her for a week, beginning December first. I haven’t seen her in years, and we have already accepted her invitation. Bill is taking part of his vacation at this time, and he is really looking forward to a pleasant rest and change.

We both regret that we can’t accept, and we do appreciate your thinking of us. Perhaps after we return, you’ll ask us again.

                                           Cordially,
                                               Ella

From Alfred Stuart Myers, Letters for All Occasions (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1952). A library book-sale find.
Graph of time devoted to correspondence

The American Time Use Survey shows the fate of correspondence in the early twenty-first century. The above graph for the population as a whole (2005–2009) shows a line that’s virtually flat. The graph for people seventy-five and older shows a barely visible rise, which makes me think that “correspondence” here must mean paper-based communication, exclusive of e-mail.

How far in advance of “December the second, around eight-thirty” would the imaginary Ella and Sue have been writing? And did they always write out the date and time? Their letters, not even sixty years old, are truly from another world, the world of Gracious Living. Why pick up the telephone when you can take the time to write?

Related reading
All letters posts (via Pinboard)

Frank Driggs (1930–2011)

Frank Driggs, record producer and collector of jazz photographs, has died:

He trafficked in photographs from other genres too, like rock and country, because the market would bear them even if he personally could not. Visiting Mr. Driggs for a 2005 profile, a writer for Smithsonian magazine noted that in one cabinet Billy Strayhorn, the composer of “Lush Life” and “Take the A Train,” sat in front of Barbra Streisand.

“As well he should,” Mr. Driggs muttered in reply.
From September 2005, here’s the Smithsonian piece: Jazz Man.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A fix for Blogger search problems

If you’ve ever been flusterated by Blogger’s oft-broken search box (in the navigation bar, top left of this page), here are two ways around the problem.

With someone else’s blog, do a Google site search. Open Google, type site: followed by the URL (minus http://), and add keywords.

With your blog, add a search box. The simplest and best one I’ve found is by Darren Hoyt: Build a Simpler Google Search Form. The code for the Orange Crate Art search box (in the sidebar, right) looks like this:


I’ve made two changes to Darren’s code, adding target="_blank" to open search results in a new tab or window, and changing value="Google search " to value="Go ". At last, a working search box. Go, man, go.

Thanks, Darren, for sharing your work.

[September 27, 2012: Darren’s instructions have disappeared from the Internets. I’m glad I saved them here.]

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Lost James M. Cain novel

The Cocktail Waitress, an unpublished novel by James M. Cain, will be published next fall by Hard Case Crime.

[Ours is a Cain-friendly household.]

Friday, September 23, 2011

Word of the day: omnibus

From Anu Garg’s A.Word.A.Day, it’s omnibus:

PRONUNCIATION:
(OM-ni-bus)

MEANING:
noun: 1. A volume reprinting several works by one author or works on one theme. 2. A public vehicle designed to carry a large number of people.
adjective: Including or dealing with many things at once.

ETYMOLOGY:
From French, from Latin omnibus (for all). Ultimately from the Indo-European root op- (to work, produce) that is also the ancestor of words such as opera, opulent, optimum, maneuver, manure, operose and inure. Earliest documented use: 1829.
Omnibus was the name of a weekly television show that ran from 1953 to 1961. The description at the Museum of Broadcasting makes me want to go out and buy what’s available of Omnibus on DVD. Here’s one brief sample from YouTube, with Leonard Bernstein making a blues chorus from two lines of Macbeth.

Boo

I tuned into the Republican presidential candidates’ debate last night just in time to hear audience members boo Stephen Hill, a gay soldier serving in Iraq, who asked whether the candidates intend “to circumvent the progress that’s been made for gay and lesbian soldiers.” Then I heard Rick Santorum’s incoherent response, which ended in a promise to reinstate Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The audience cheered. And that was enough viewing for one night. You can see for yourself at YouTube.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Elizabeth Warren on taxation

Elizabeth Warren campaigning in Massachusetts, seeking the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate:

“I hear all this, you know, ‘Well, this is class warfare; this is’ — whatever. No. There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did. Now look: you built a factory, and it turned into something terrific or a great idea? God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”
Watch and listen at YouTube. I wish I could vote for her.

[My transcription.]

Words from MLK

Martin Luther King Jr., in the “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” April 16, 1963:

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
Related reading
Troy Davis Is Executed in Georgia (New York Times)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

“Inside Amazon’s warehouse”

Life in an Amazon warehouse:

Over the past two months, The Morning Call interviewed 20 current and former warehouse workers who showed pay stubs, tax forms or other proof of employment. They offered a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what it’s like to work in the Amazon warehouse, where temperatures soar on hot summer days, production rates are difficult to achieve and the permanent jobs sought by many temporary workers hired by an outside agency are tough to get.

Only one of the employees interviewed described it as a good place to work.
Says an employee quoted in the article, “They just push, push, push.”

Where to go instead? Powell’s is the largest union bookstore in the United States.

Inside Amazon’s warehouse (The Morning Call)

(Thanks, Adair.)

Elsie’s Cook Book

[Elsie the Cow with Harry Botsford, Elsie’s Cook Book: Tested Recipes of Every Variety (New York: Bond Wheelwright, 1952). Click for a larger view.]

A library book-sale find. The illustration of Elsie and Elmer is by Keith Ward. Today’s Inspiration has a post with more of his work. Elsie’s helper Harry Botsford wrote cookbooks of his own. I hope that he’s responsible for this book’s chapter on “Meats.”

Related reading
Elsie the Cow (Wikipedia article)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

NYC faux pas

Good reading: What are some cultural faux pas in New York? (Quora, via kottke.org). I especially like this warning: “Never ever ever EVER refer to the city as ‘the Big Apple.’”

For an autograph album

Things to write in an autograph album:

Birds on the mountain,
Fish in the sea.
How you ever graduated
Is a mystery to me.

*

FUNEX
VFX
FUNEM
VFM
OKMNX

*

I love you, I love you,
I love you so well,
If I had a peanut
I’d give you the shell.

*

If I were a head of lettuce
I’d cut myself in two.
I’d give the leaves to all my friends
And save the heart for you.

*

Mary had a little lamb.
Her father shot it dead.
Now Mary carries that lamb to school
Between two hunks of bread.

*

Never B♯
Never B♭
Always B♮

*

Roses are red,
Pickles are green.
My face is a holler
But yours is a scream.

*
                                                               
                                                               
Some blank verse from a blank mind.

*

When sitting on a sofa
With your boyfriend by your side,
Beware of false kisses,
His mustache may be dyed.

*

Yours till soda pops.

From Yours Till Niagra Falls, compiled by Lillian Morrison (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1950). A library book-sale find.

Overheard

From a ’sation, overheard while shopping:

“A hairdresser is high and mighty? [Then slowly, underlining every word.] A hairdresser or a barber is high and mighty?” [Laughs hysterically.]
The gist of it: Don’t let him treat you like that.

Related reading
All “overheard” posts (via Pinboard)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Netflix messes up

I was surprised to see an e-mail from Reed Hastings (“Co-Founder and CEO of Netflix”) in one of my inboxes today. For a split-second I thought that Mr. Hastings was about to apologize for calling DVDs-by-mail “Old Fogey discs.” But no. His e-mail announces that Netflix’s DVDs-by-mail service is now known as Qwikster. And he isn’t apologizing for that either.

I suspect that our household will eventually shift to streaming. But we like making lists of films to watch, and we like getting DVDs. (As Elaine points out, they add interest to the mail.) And not everything at Netflix is available on-demand. For now, we are sticking with Qwikster. [Insert grimace here.]

Hi and Escher

[Hi and Lois, September 19, 2011.]

Follow that wall! Yes, it appears to be one long wall that includes both the front door and the side of the house.

Today’s Hi and Lois isn’t the first to feature an Escher-like construction: a 2008 hot-dog cart is similarly confounding.

Bye-bye. (Grown-ups use hyphens.)

Related reading
All Hi and Lois posts (via Pinboard)

Pocket notebook sighting

The Schemer’s pocket notebook
[A star is born. Click for a larger view.]

The notebook above belongs to the Schemer (Wallace Ford), a member of a counterfeiting ring in T-Men (dir. Anthony Mann, 1947). The Schemer keeps his accounts in what might be called pseudo-Greek. That’ll fool ’em, eh? Well, some of ’em. The accounts above are for the Hotsy-Totsy, the Casa de las Nacions [sic], Ditero Polso, the Club Trindad, and Palasi. You can’t fool a junior T-Man.

The Schemer’s trick is enough though to befuddle Chief Carson: “Looks like Greek. I’ll send this to Washington right away,” says he. Much more efficient than looking at the inside back-cover of the dictionary for the Greek alphabet, just in case the Schemer is using a simple cipher, right? Even then, Chief Carson might’ve been befuddled, for the β [beta] of Κλόβ has been turned into an ω [omega].

In addition to this notebook, T-Men offers Reed Hadley’s documentary-style voiceover, John Alton’s stylish cinematography, and a brief appearance by June Lockhart (of later Lassie fame). I never tire of documentary-style crime films.

More notebook sightings
Angels with Dirty Faces : Cat People : Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne : Extras : Journal d’un curé de campagne : The House on 92nd Street : The Lodger : The Mystery of the Wax Museum : The Palm Beach Story : Pickpocket : Pickup on South Street : Quai des Orfèvres : Red-Headed Woman : Rififi : The Sopranos : Spellbound : Union Station

Banned Books Week

It’s Banned Books Week:

Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read (America Library Association)
The ALA’s list of the ten most challenged titles in 2010 includes Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America (“drugs, inaccurate, offensive language, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint”), Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (“insensitivity, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit”), and Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson’s And Tango Makes Three (“homosexuality, religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group”).

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Learning, failure, and character

A somewhat misleadingly titled article on efforts to inculcate elements of good character in private- and charter-school students: What if the Secret to Success Is Failure? (New York Times). Those elements include what psychology professor Angela Duckworth calls “grit,” perseverance despite adversity. You can test your grit via her Grit Scale.

When I think of grit and its opposite, I think of students’ reactions to low grades on their first essays in freshman comp. Some students realize that they need to work much harder on their writing, and do so. Others simply drop the course.

A few related posts
Andrew Sullivan on self-esteem
Good advice from Rob Zseleczky
The inverse power of praise
John Holt on learning and difficulty

[Elaine and I each scored 4.4 of 5 on the Grit Scale. Scoring the test, as she points out, requires a bit of grit.]

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Lysistratic nonaction in the news

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reports that the women of two villages on the Philippine island of Mindanao have brought an end to armed conflict between their villages by refusing sex with their husbands:

Women’s “sex strike” ends fighting in Mindanao villages (ABS-CBN News, via Boing Boing)

The technical term for this strategy: not cutting him off but Lysistratic nonaction. This post explains.

Fees wrecking film’s distribution

Daughter Number Three spotted an article about The Wrecking Crew, Denny Tedesco’s 2008 documentary about the West Coast session musicians heard on countless 1960s pop and rock records. It’s 2011, and the film still has no distribution. Why? The fees for the 130 songs used in the film total more than $300,000. The filmmaker’s response has been to make the film a non-profit, eligible for funding through the International Documentary Foundation.

Nina Paley’s animated film Sita Sings the Blues (2008) was hit with similarly exorbitant fees for the use of 1920s recordings. The initial price: $220,000.

Somehow I don’t think that’s the way copyright is supposed to work.

More
The Wrecking Crew (the film’s site)
The Wrecking Crew (Wikipedia article)
Sita and copyright (Wikipedia article)

[Denny Tedesco is the son of guitarist and Crew member Tommy Tedesco.]

Vito Perrone Sr. (1933–2011)

Vito Perrone Sr., former director of teacher education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, opposed standardized testing:

In Dr. Perrone’s view, which he disseminated for 40 years as a professor of education, first at the University of North Dakota and later at Harvard, the excessive use of such tests warped the education process, inhibited children’s natural interest in learning, caused teachers stress and prevented them from carrying out their real jobs: instilling in children a love of learning and teaching them the principles of citizenship in a democracy.

Vito Perrone Sr., Who Fought Standardized Tests, Dies at 78 (New York Times)
In 1998 he posed these questions:
What if our children and young people learn to read and write but don’t like to and don’t? What if they don’t read the newspapers and magazines, or can’t find beauty in a poem or love story? What if they don’t go as adults to artistic events, don’t listen to a broad range of music, aren’t optimistic about the world and their place in it, don’t notice the trees and the sunset, are indifferent to older citizens, don’t participate in politics or community life, and are physically and psychologically abusive to themselves?

And what if they leave us intolerant, lacking in respect for others who come from different racial and social backgrounds, speak another language, have different ideas or aspirations? Should any of this worry us?

Our Continuing Imperative: Education for Peace and Social Justice (Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning, and Dialogue)

A little bathroom humor

A good clue in today’s New York Times crossword, 3-Down: “One spending a long time in the bathroom?” The question mark means that the answer involves some cleverness. I think though that my dad would find the answer quite straightforward: TILESETTER.

[No spoilers here. Highlight the empty space above to see the answer. My dad’s work graces bathrooms, kitchens, and entryways throughout northern New Jersey.]

Friday, September 16, 2011

Music for hard times

Last night Elaine and I heard a great recital by baritone Nathan Gunn and pianist Julie Gunn. Elaine heard much more than I did, as she was well acquainted with virtually all the music on the program: Gustav Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen [Songs of a wayfarer], Robert Schumann’s Dichterliebe [Poet’s love], and songs by Charles Ives, Samuel Barber, and Harold Arlen. Schumann and Ives were the knock-outs. But for me the most arresting moment of the night came in an encore, a song from 1931:

They used to tell me I was building a dream,
and so I followed the mob.
When there was earth to plow or guns to bear,
I was always there, right on the job.

They used to tell me I was building a dream,
with peace and glory ahead.
Why should I be standing in line,
just waiting for bread?

Once I built a railroad, I made it run,
made it race against time.
Once I built a railroad. Now it’s done.
Brother, can you spare a dime?

Once I built a tower, up to the sun,
brick and rivet and lime.
Once I built a tower. Now it’s done.
Brother, can you spare a dime?

Once in khaki suits, gee, we looked swell,
Full of that Yankee Doodle-de-dum,
Half a million boots went sloggin’ through hell,
I was the kid with the drum.

Say, don’t you remember? They called me Al,
it was Al all the time.
Why don’t you remember? I’m your pal.
Buddy, can you spare a dime?

“Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” (music by Jay Gorney, words by E.Y. Harburg)
I want to call the Gunns’ performance of the song spellbinding, but that’s not it: rather than call attention to the artistry of the performers, the performance invited the listener to think of the world outside the great hall. It was a solemn and poignant close to a great night of music in our own hard times. I’d like to think that everyone got the point.

[Yes, the Gunns are a married couple. And no, this rendering of the lyrics is not definitive. The punctuation, line breaks, and stanza breaks are my best effort.]

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Happy birthday, Orange Crate Art

With a little over an hour left in the day, I just realized that Orange Crate Art turned seven today. Orange Crate Art: now more than halfway to puberty!

I never imagined that this blog, which began as a way to collect items relevant to my teaching, would turn into a daily adventure in writing. Thank you, fambly: Rachel and Ben for giving me a big push to get started, Elaine for reading every word. And you — yes, you, the one in front of that screen there — thank you for reading.

Overheard

By Elaine, in Borders: “I hate books that you have to read from cover to cover.”

Related reading
All “overheard” posts (via Pinboard)

[My last Borders purchases: Alain de Botton’s The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, Farber on Film: The Complete Film Writings of Manny Farber, and Tim Page’s Parallel Play.]

Wade Mainer (1907–2011)

Sad news: Wade Mainer, a Pioneer of Bluegrass Banjo, Dies at 104 (New York Times). I’ve become aware of his music via Joe Bussard’s Country Classics.

YouTube has an interview with Wade Mainer in three parts. Bonus: songs and banjo tricks with Wade and Julia Mainer, who were married for seventy-three years.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Taylor Branch on college sports

Taylor Branch’s Atlantic article The Shame of College Sports is a must-read for anyone who cares about education. One detail, concerning a civil suit brought against the University of Georgia by Jan Kemp, an English instructor who was fired after refusing to change students’ grades:

In trying to defend themselves, Georgia officials portrayed Kemp as naive about sports. “We have to compete on a level playing field,” said Fred Davison, the university president. During the Kemp civil trial, in 1986, Hale Almand, Georgia’s defense lawyer, explained the university’s patronizing aspirations for its typical less-than-scholarly athlete. “We may not make a university student out of him,” Almand told the court, “but if we can teach him to read and write, maybe he can work at the post office rather than as a garbage man when he gets through with his athletic career.”

Ads on campus

The New York Times reports on corporations using college students as “‘brand ambassadors’ or ‘campus evangelists’”:

Companies from Microsoft on down are increasingly seeking out the big men and women on campus to influence their peers. The students most in demand are those who are popular — ones involved in athletics, music, fraternities or sororities. Thousands of Facebook friends help, too. What companies want are students with inside knowledge of school traditions and campus hotspots. In short, they want students with the cred to make brands seem cool, in ways that a TV or magazine ad never could.
The Times article highlights a move-in-day crew of students wearing American Eagle t-shirts and a Hewlett-Packard student-rep who wears an HP shirt and sits with her HP laptop in a wi-fi spot.

What I find especially irksome about these corporate efforts is the way they exploit the decency and naiveté of young adults, few of whom would be willing to tell a fellow student, any student, to take a hike. The sighing response of a student who received help and merch from the American Eagle crew: “I’ll probably always remember it.”

More troubling to me though are advertising efforts that originate on campus. Electronic signage, mixing advertisements and announcements, is a recent collegiate innovation that threatens to make every sighted member of an academic community a member of a captive audience. Such signage comes with an assurance that alcohol, tobacco, and weapons will — of course — not be advertised. I find nothing reassuring about that assurance, because I conceive of a college campus as something close to a sacred space, set apart, dedicated to purposes above commerce. I would never object to advertising in a stadium (where I never have to set foot if I so choose). But the prospect of quads filled with glittering commercials is intolerable. And there’s no telling a sign to take a hike.

Writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education in 1999 about ads on university websites, former Indiana University president Thomas Ehrlich described his struggles with creeping commercialization. While president, he once “in a moment of weakness” approved a large sign for announcements and ads. It came down when “faculty and others howled.” Ehrlich’s conclusion:
Higher education is a calling, and its mission is to enhance society by teaching, research, and service. Colleges and universities have obligations, as well as opportunities, to strengthen the fabric of our society by stressing essential dimensions of life that are not commercial — in particular, the moral and civic responsibilities of every student, faculty member, and administrator on campus.
Would that everyone in higher education saw it that way.

[The Chronicle piece is behind a paywall. Orange Crate Art, by the way, will always be an ad-free blog.]

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tupperware pencil

If this pencil could talk:

Girls Ladies, I hope that you have you’ve all enjoyed the chance this demonstration opportunity to try see for yourself get acquainted with the latest products from Tupperware. Each Every Tupperware product locks in flavor and preserves keeps your moist foods moist, crisp foods crisp. Yes, Tupperware keeps all your foods airtight fresh. I know that you’ll all want to . . . . Now wrap it up and start taking orders.

[This post is the twelfth 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. The imaginary script borrows a bit of phrasing — “keeps moist foods moist, crisp foods crisp” — from a 1963 print ad.]

Also from the Museum of Supplies
Dennison’s Gummed Labels No. 27
Eagle Turquoise display case
Eagle Verithin display case
Fineline erasers
Illinois Central Railroad Pencil
A Mad Men sort of man, sort of
Mongol No. 2 3/8
Moore Metalhed Maptacks
Real Thin Leads
Rite-Rite Long Leads
Stanley carpenter’s rule

Monday, September 12, 2011

Word of the day: iridescent

From Anu Garg’s A.Word.A.Day, it’s iridescent:

PRONUNCIATION:
(ir-i-DES-uhnt)

MEANING:
adjective: Displaying a rainbow of colors that change when seen from different angles.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Latin irido- (rainbow), from iris (rainbow, iris plant, diaphragm of the eye), from Greek iris. Iris was the goddess of rainbows in Greek mythology. Earliest documented use: 1794.
Iridescent brings to my mind two bits of poetry. One is the first lines of Stanley Lombardo’s translation of Sappho’s appeal to Aphrodite:
Shimmering,
          iridescent,
                   deathless Aphrodite
Note how iridescent echoes shimmering and deathless echoes iridescent. You can read the poem and an explanation of the translation at Jacket.

Iridescent for me also means a sentence in Marianne Moore’s “The Mind Is an Enchanting Thing”:
                It’s fire in the dove-neck’s

iridescence; in the
       inconsistencies
of Scarlatti.
Dove-neck’s, iridescence, in the inconsistencies, of (rhyming with dove), Scarlatti: ah! music. You can read the poem on the fly at Google Books.

A related post
Other words and works of lit (apoplexy, avatar, bandbox, heifer, sanguine, sempiternal)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11

[Thornton Dial, 9/11: Interrupting the Morning News. 2002. Pencil, charcoal, watercolor, and coffee stains on paper. 41 × 29 inches. Collection of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation.]

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Class of 9/11

Manhattan’s P.S. 150 stands eight blocks from where the World Trade Center stood. In Jacques Menasche’s short film The Class of 9/11, parents, teachers, staff, and the young people who were first-graders in the fall of 2001 talk about September 11, 2001 and its aftermath: The Class of 9/11 (Vimeo).

Sonny Rollins,
Kennedy Center honoree

“They’re not here now, so I feel like I’m sort of representing all of them, all of the guys. Remember, I’m one of the last guys left, as I’m constantly being told”: Sonny Rollins is a 2011 Kennedy Center honoree, along with Barbara Cook, Neil Diamond, Yo-Yo Ma, and Meryl Streep. The awards were announced this past Wednesday, on Rollins’s eighty-first birthday.

Other Rollins posts
Sonny Rollins and golf
Sonny Rollins in Illinois
Sonny Rollins, J.D. Salinger, Robert Taylor
Sonny Rollins on paying the rent

Friday, September 9, 2011

Strunk and White parody

From Gary Klien’s The Elements of Press Release Style:

1. Omit needless words.

Vigorous writing is precise. A press release should contain no unnecessary words, for the same reason a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.

BAD
“The company regrets its role in this major environmental catastrophe, and we are fully committed to making the community whole.”

BETTER
“This environmental catastrophe is regrettable.”
Related reading
All Strunk and White posts (via Pinboard)

From Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day

How many times did I hear, as an undergraduate, someone say “Man qua man” and mean it? Too many times. From Bryan Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day:

Qua (= in the capacity of; as; in the role of), is often misused and is little needed in English. “The real occasion for the use of qua,” wrote H.W. Fowler, “occurs when a person or thing spoken of can be regarded from more than one point of view or as the holder of various coexistent functions, and a statement about him (or it) is to be limited to him in one of these aspects” (Modern English Usage [1st ed.] at 477). Here is Fowler's example of a justifiable use: “Qua lover he must be condemned for doing what qua citizen he would be condemned for not doing.” But as would surely work better in that sentence; and in any event, this use of qua is especially rare in American English.

One is hard-pressed to divine any purpose but rhetorical ostentation or idiosyncrasy in the following examples:

“Such developments . . . do not explain why students qua students have played such an important role in stimulating protest.” Seymour Martin Lipset, “Why Youth Revolt,” N.Y. Times, 24 May 1989, at A31.

“The proposal that a physician qua physician (or a medical ethic as such) is the necessary or best authority for the existential decision of rational suicide misrepresents medical knowledge and skills.” Steven H. Miles, "Physician-Assisted Suicide and the Profession's Gyrocompass," Hastings Ctr. Rep., May 1995, at 17.
Bryan Garner, author of Garner’s Modern American Usage (Oxford University Press, 2009), offers a free Usage Tip of the Day. You can sign up at LawProse.org. Orange Crate Art is a Garner-friendly site.

Related posts
Singular they (and the patriarchal language of my undergrad education)
The word of the day: quaquaversal

Ben Folds on the tyranny of cool

From To the Best of Our Knowledge, Ben Folds on a cappella groups and the tyranny of cool:

I mean, look, if you looked up reality show singing contest a cappella cover artist that would pretty much be dork, you know? But they know that, and it’s like they’ve just broken the chains of that, which I really admire. I think that’s hard to do in an overly commercialized world of cool. Everyone can’t be cool. That’s so boring, and so old, and they’ve been doing that since I was a kid, and I thought it would stop one day, and it just keeps going. It’s creative bullying, is what it is. And so I like to take the side of these people.
Folds, whose music is popular among a cappella groups, is a judge for the NBC show The Sing-Off. Here’s one central-Illinois-centric example of Folds’s music, nearly a cappella (there’s some percussion): “Effington.”

[What I know of Ben Folds’s music I like, and I owe my acquaintance with it to my children.]

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Eight syllables

How a bright college freshman might say it: “This legislation must be implemented with the utmost diligence.” Ponderous, ponderous.

How President Obama said it: “You should pass this bill right away.” (And variations thereupon.)

“It is a general truth that short words are not only handier to use, but more powerful in effect; extra syllables reduce, not increase, vigour”: H.W. Fowler, A Dictionary of Modern English Usage (1926).

And yes, they should pass this bill right away.

The easy and the difficult

This observation has been running through my head for several days:

What a technology makes easy to do will get done; what it hides, or makes difficult, may very well not get done.

Donald A. Norman, The Design of Everyday Things (New York: Basic Books, 2002). Originally published as The Psychology of Everyday Things (1988).
A word-processing app makes it easy to play with fonts and margins and spacing but more difficult to see a document as a whole so as to make useful revisions. Apple’s iTunes makes buying music easier than ever, but learning something about that music is not nearly as easy. I’m happy to have a files-only version of The Incomparable Ethel Waters (a 2003 CD, out of print). But when were these seventeen tracks recorded? Who’s playing on them? Who knows.

A related post
Don Norman on Google’s users

Google users

Don Norman on Google:

“Most people would say ‘we’re the users, and the product is advertising.’ But in fact the advertisers are the users and you are the product. They say their goal is to gather all the knowledge in the world in one place, but really their goal is to gather all of the people in the world and sell them.”
And now they’re buying Zagat.

Mother Jones on the Kochs

Three reports from Mother Jones on Charles and David, the brothers Koch:

One: The Koch Brothers’ Million-Dollar Donor Club

Two: Inside the Koch Brothers’ Secret Seminar, with audio excerpts: “If you want to kick in a billion, believe me, we’ll have a special seminar just for you.” [Laughter.]

Three: Chris Christie Lets Loose at Secret Koch Brothers Confab

Here at Orange Crate Art, our purchasing agents are instructed not to purchase Koch products: Angel Soft Toilet Paper, Brawny Towels, Dacron Fiber, Dixie Products, Georgia-Pacific Paper Products, Lycra Fiber, Mardi Gras Products, Quilted Northern Toilet Paper, Soft ’n Gentle Toilet Paper, Sparkle Paper Napkins, Stainmaster Carpet, Vanity Fair Paper Napkins, Zee Paper Napkins. Our Midwestern agents are now also instructed not to purchase from Menards, one of the Kochs’ million-dollar donors. (Here’s a list of Menards-related “conflicts” — a pretty unsavory record, Kochs or no Kochs.)

[Every time I post something Koch-related, my stats show — almost immediately — a visit from Koch Industries. Hello, Koch Industries. Thanks for reading.]

EXchange names on screen

A taxicab with OXford 6262 on its side
[From left to right: Gail Patrick, Cary Grant, Randolph Scott, and OXford 6262.]

Seven years after his wife (Irene Dunne) was lost at sea, a man (Cary Grant) remarries (Gail Patrick). His first wife then reappears, having spent those seven years stuck on a deserted island with another man (Randolph Scott). He’s back too. Hilarity ensues. My Favorite Wife (dir. Garson Kanin, 1940) is a brilliant comedy. It’s a film I would like to see in a theater, with the laughter of a crowd.

For anyone who’s read the rumors about Grant and Scott, there are several added comedic elements in the film.

Cary Grant, wearing a hat, holding up a dress, looking in a mirror.
[“It’s for a friend of mine. He’s waiting downstairs.” Yes, that’s what he says. Really.]

More exchange names on screen
The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse : Baby Face : Born Yesterday : The Dark Corner : Deception : Dream House : The Little Giant : The Man Who Cheated Himself : Murder, My Sweet : Nightmare Alley : The Public Enemy : Side Street : Sweet Smell of Success : This Gun for Hire

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

“C’est moi!”

Looking at my blog stats, I noticed several visits from a runners’ website, where a discussion thread shifted to the subject of the subjunctive. Wrote one poster, “This guy has a beard, an easy smile and big glasses. He must know what he's talking about.”

That guy is I. Thanks for your confidence, Nader!

Roger Ebert’s fall

Roger Ebert, writing about diminishing mobility and a recent fall out of bed:

For years we live in innocence. We walk around all day and never give it a moment’s thought. For years, every single day in tolerable weather, I woke up around 6:30 and walked for 90 minutes around the Lincoln Park ponds. I wore a pedometer and aimed for 10,000 steps a day. Some days I topped 25,000. I loved it.

Now Chaz asks why I don’t wear my pedometer. Its count would be too depressing.

A fall from grace (Chicago Sun-Times)
“For years we live in innocence”: I had an eye exam last month and remember saying, when my optometrist praised my maculae, “I guess at some point you don’t take these things for granted.”

Roger Ebert is a national treasure. I hope he feels better soon.

From The World of Henry Orient

Marian Gilbert lives in the Sixties on Manhattan’s East Side. She is visiting a friend in Greenwich Village for the first time:

The food was delightful, and not at all the sort of thing we ever had at home. Plates of cold meat, a basket of rye bread, bowls of mayonnaise and butter, lettuce and sliced tomatoes, and a kind of pie made out of cheese and bacon. The Hamblers dranks beer and we had cold milk from a crockery pitcher. We all took some of everything, and as the others piled most of the food on the bread to make sandwiches, I did the same. It was delicious, the sun poured in through the window, and I began to feel as though I had stumbled on a small heaven.

Nora Johnson, The World of Henry Orient (1958)
I’ve loved the 1964 film The World of Henry Orient (dir. George Roy Hill) since kidhood and thought it would be smart to read the novel, which turns out to be just as terrific. Gil narrates, so we see as little of the mysterious pianist Henry Orient as Gil and her friend Valerie Campbell Boyd see. In other words, there is no part for Peter Sellers here: the novel is about children. But it’s for grownups, much darker and sadder than the film (screenplay by Johnson and her father Nunnally Johnson).

The passage above reminds me of my kidhood fascination with delicatessen food, the stuff of all true feasts. Gil’s “a kind of pie made out of cheese and bacon” adds the perfect touch of naiveté. (Or naiftiness, as Lucy van Pelt would say.)

Nora Johnson is still writing, and she has a website.

[How do you spell naiftiness?]

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Recently updated

Julia Child and Rachael Ray: Anthony Bourdain’s hilarious commentary on Food Network stars can still be had via the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.

Breakfast with the Food Network

[Plunges spoon into bowl. Lifts spoon to mouth. Removes spoon from mouth, chews, grunts.]

I gotta tell ya: it’s all in there. The creamy coldness of the Silk, the crunchiness of the Grape-Nuts, the tangy sweetness of the peaches, the way they all come together: this little puppy is one mega-flavor explosion.

[Chews, swallows.]

But I have an even bigger challenge coming up in just five hours. And they call it LUNCH.

[Plunges, lifts, removes spoon. Chews. Wipes chin. Cut to commercials.]

I recently developed a short-lived comedic habit of turning real-life meals into Food Network moments. I can’t stand the Food Network. But I do like Silk Soymilk, Grape-Nuts, peaches, and yuks.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day

A chef holds the tools of his work during a Labor Day celebration
[“People holding up the tools of their trade during Labor Day celebrations.” Photograph by Al Fenn. September 1956. From the Life Photo Archive.]

The man in the back: a teacher holding a dictionary? I’d like to think so.

I hope that next year’s Labor Day finds us all in better economic times, with at least a little more to celebrate.

A related post
Labor Day 2010 (featuring Dorothy Lucke)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Teachers making house calls

A world away from suburban Arizona, teachers from the South Bronx’s Urban Assembly School for Applied Math and Science make house calls to meet incoming sixth-graders and their families. The short film accompanying this article might make you, too, a bit teary. So much hope, in such difficult times:

Before the First School Bell, Teachers in Bronx Make House Calls (New York Times)

Digital technology in the classroom

Says a PTO co-president, “We have Smart Boards in every classroom but not enough money to buy copy paper, pencils and hand sanitizer.” As class sizes rise and teachers buy their own supplies, an Arizona school district seeks to spend even more on digital technology. Read all about it:

In Classroom of Future, Stagnant Scores (New York Times)

My two cents, from a 2010 post: “There’s nothing more exciting in teaching and learning than unmediated communication in the little village of the classroom.”

Saturday, September 3, 2011

“Darn That Dream” within a dream

I was sitting in a music shop, playing “Darn That Dream” with an old woman as a guitar duet (key of G). Her guitar: an arch-top with a painting of a yellow rose. My guitar: I don’t know. And then I was reading. The pages looked like the pages of a Paris Review interview. I attended to these words: “Every fret works,” which meant not that the guitar was in good condition but that a guitarist should use the entire range of the fingerboard — as I do, in dreams and when I’m awake.

Dream sources:

A family trip to Elderly Instruments earlier this summer. Thus the old woman in the music shop.

A passage from John Trimble’s Writing with Style: Conversations on the Art of Writing. Trimble advocates a middle style that involves “a mingling of contraries: formal and informal diction, objectivity and subjectivity, impersonality and directness,” using every fret, so to speak. I was looking at this passage with a class yesterday.

Trimble taught at the University of Texas at Austin. Thus the yellow rose.

That I was dreaming might explain the choice of “Darn That Dream,” no? My favorite recording of the song is Billie Holiday’s, with Ben Webster (tenor sax), Harry “Sweets” Edison (trumpet), Jimmy Rowles (piano), Barney Kessel (guitar), Red Mitchell (bass), and Alvin Stoller (drums). Music by Jimmy Van Heusen, lyrics by Eddie DeLange. Listen.

[Analyzing your own dreams is a good way to save money. Why hire a professional?]

Friday, September 2, 2011

The story of copyright

C.G.P. Grey’s short film Copyright: Forever Less One Day tells the story of copyright, with special emphasis on the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998.

One consequence of the Sonny Bono Act: the final three volumes of the recent Penguin edition of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time cannot be published in the United States until 2018, ninety-five years after Proust’s death. These volumes can be had from Amazon, which also sells Sonny Bono’s And the Beat Goes On and much, much more.

A related post
Mount Prost (the Penguin edition, suitable for climbing)

Recently updated

Testing teachers for drug use: In Glasford, Illinois, current teachers will not be subject to mandatory drug tests. But new hires will be.

Sterne’s Yorick, distracted

The scene is Paris:

What the old French officer had delivered upon travelling, bringing Polonius’s advice to his son upon the same subject into my head — and that bringing in Hamlet; and Hamlet, the rest of Shakespear’s works, I stopped at the Quai de Conti, in my return home, to purchase the whole set.

The bookseller said he had not a set in the world — Comment! said I; taking one up out of a set which lay upon the counter betwixt us. — He said, they were sent him only to be got bound, and were to be sent back to Versailles in the morning to the Count de B****.

— And does the Count de B****, said I, read Shakespear? C’est un Esprit fort, replied the bookseller. — He loves English books; and what is more to his honour, Monsieur, he loves the English too. You speak this so civilly, said I, that ’tis enough to oblige an Englishman to lay out a louis d’or or two at your shop — the bookseller made a bow, and was going to say something, when a young decent girl of about twenty, who by her air and dress seemed to be fille de chambre to some devout woman of fashion, come into the shop and asked for Les Egarements du Cœur & de l’Esprit: the bookseller gave her the book directly; she pulled out a little green sattin purse run round with a riband of the same colour, and putting her finger and thumb into it, she took out the money and paid for it. As I had nothing more to stay me in the shop, we both walk’d out at the door together.
Laurence Sterne, A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy (1768). Text from the 1967 Penguin edition, ed. Graham Petrie.

I like everything about this passage: the Shakespearean earworm, the casual decision to buy a complete works, the lousy inventory, the ease with which Yorick (the narrator) forgets about buying something from the bookseller, the care with which he details the chambermaid’s purse and movements.

Petrie explains Esprit fort: “a wit; someone who expresses superiority to current prejudices.” Les Égarements du cœur et de l'esprit [The wanderings of the heart and mind] is a novel by Claude Prosper Jolyot de Crébillon. “Wanderings of the heart and mind” is a fair description of A Sentimental Journey.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

VDP: the four ages of an artist

Van Dyke Parks on record companies that are “more interested in brunettes” than in music veterans:

It reminds me of a joke my agent told me. He said there are four ages to an artist. I said what are they? He said, “Who is Van Dyke Parks?” “Get me Van Dyke Parks.” “Get me a young Van Dyke Parks.” “Who is Van Dyke Parks?” I think he hit it on the head right there.

But I have never written music to fish for flattery or condemnation. I don’t pay attention to what people think of me. I pay attention to the old fella I see in the mirror in the morning who looks like my dad on a bad day.

Van Dyke Parks Interview (Songfacts)
Related reading
All Van Dyke Parks posts (via Pinboard)

The self-help guru we deserve?

“Every generation gets the self-help guru that it deserves”: Rebecca Mead profiles Timothy Ferriss in the New Yorker.

The new Blogger interface

[Click for a larger view.]

The new Blogger interface makes me feel uneasy about writing a short post. But I’m writing one anyway. From The Elements of Typographic Style Applied to the Web:
Anything from 45 to 75 characters is widely regarded as a satisfactory length of line for a single-column page set in a serifed text face in a text size. The 66-character line (counting both letters and spaces) is widely regarded as ideal. For multiple column work, a better average is 40 to 50 characters.
The line in Blogger’s new text-box is much too long for comfortable composing and editing. I do like the orange though.

Related reading
Blogger’s fresh new look (The Official Google Blog)

Recently updated

Testing teachers for drug use: In Glasford, Illinois, teachers have ended a strike called in response to their school district’s insistence on random drug tests.

Orange notecard art

A photograph of a produce stand
[Produce Stand. Photograph by Tony Cece. 2004.]

The photograph is by a photographer represented by the non-profit group Fountain House.

Thanks, Brian!

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 peel art : Orange pencil art : Orange soda art : Orange telephone art : Orange timer art : Orange toothbrush art : Orange train art

[The word art looks odd by the time you get to the end of the list, no?]