Saturday, June 30, 2018

“Here’s your problem”


[Daily cartoon, by Pia Guerra, The New Yorker, June 29, 2018.]

[I’ve reformatted the cartoon to remove a large gap between picture and caption.]

From the Saturday Stumper

A pair of clues from today’s Newsday Saturday Stumper, by Lester Ruff:

22-Across, five letters: “They often run about an hour.”

35-Across, four letters: “They run more than three hours for seniors.”

I especially like 22-Across. Even after getting the answer (the crosses let me know that it must be right), I was baffled. The dictionary was no help. I had to look at the answer again to understand.

Today’s puzzle — solvable! No spoilers: the answers are in the comments.

Friday, June 29, 2018

George Cameron (1947–2018)

George Cameron, singer, drummer, and original member of the Left Banke, died earlier this week at the age of seventy.

When it comes to the Left Banke, I am very late to the show. I started listening to the group just a few months ago, after seeing Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri and hearing the Four Tops version of “Walk Away Renée,” which made me remember the Rickie Lee Jones version, which made me think: I should really look into the Left Banke. I bought the group’s available LPs (two, reissued as CDs), downloaded a compilation (the two LPs and two singles, from iTunes), and discovered an extensive website about the group at archive.org.

Suffice to say that the Left Banke, though shortlived, was fairly brilliant: Beatlesque harmonies, psychedelic touches, and great (“baroque”) pop songs. Like the Beach Boys, the group had a musical mastermind at its center, the songwriter and keyboardist Michael Brown (d. 2015). And like Brian Wilson, Michael Brown had a musical father who brought considerable misery to his son’s life. The Beach Boys, in one form or another, have gone on and on. The Left Banke fell apart in the late 1960s — with brief reunion appearances in recent years, and with plans earlier this year for a reunion with Steve Martin Caro, the group’s long-absent lead singer.

Here’s George Cameron, who usually sang harmony, taking a rare lead: “Goodbye Holly” (Tom Feher), from The Left Banke Too (Smash, 1968).

[In the small-world department: our friend Seymour Barab played cello on the Left Banke’s second hit, “Pretty Ballerina.” I wish I could have asked him about that.]

“The donor class”

“I think that a lot of Democratic politics has been about trying to find the least offensive cause to the donor class to rally people around while stepping on the fewest toes”: Jeff Beals, Democratic candidate in a New York congressional primary race, as quoted in the most recent episode of This American Life, “It’s My Party and I’ll Try If I Want To.”

[See also Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.]

I’m not sure there’s even
an A.Word.A.Day word for this one

The New York Times examines the close relationship between our president and the son of a retiring Supreme Court justice:

“Say hello to your boy,” Mr. Trump said. “Special guy.”

Mr. Trump was apparently referring to Justice Kennedy’s son, Justin. The younger Mr. Kennedy spent more than a decade at Deutsche Bank, eventually rising to become the bank’s global head of real estate capital markets, and he worked closely with Mr. Trump when he was a real estate developer, according to two people with knowledge of his role.

During Mr. Kennedy’s tenure, Deutsche Bank became Mr. Trump’s most important lender, dispensing well over $1 billion in loans to him for the renovation and construction of skyscrapers in New York and Chicago at a time other mainstream banks were wary of doing business with him because of his troubled business history.
I have no evens to can’t.

A related post
Words from politics

Words from politics

This week from Anu Garg’s A.Word.A.Day, words from politics: malfeasance, nepotism, emolument, collusion, impeach. Yep. They all fit.

Lucy’s whom


[Peanuts, July 2, 1971.]

Lucy has asked Charlie Brown, “Which is correct, ‘Who are we kidding?’ or ‘Whom are we kidding?’” Charlie Brown: “Well, I suppose ‘whom’ is correct although most people would say ‘who.’” (He’s right.) And what does he think are the team’s chances of winning today? “Oh, I’d say about fifty-fifty.” Thus this panel.

Google hits for “who are we kidding”: 650,000. For “whom are we kidding”: 27,000. The informal kidding works strongly in favor of who. But not for Lucy.

*

11:36 a.m.: Comments on today’s strip claim expertise: “Lucy is WRONG… Whom is only correct when preceded by a preposition… One of those words with which you should not end a sentence!!” Um, no.

“‘Who (Nominative case, the case of the subject of the sentence) are we kidding?’ is correct. Um, no. The subject of the sentence is we: we are kidding whom?

[Yesteryear’s Peanuts is this year’s Peanuts.]

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Another

Another mass shooting, this time at a Maryland newspaper. And the president who calls journalists “the enemy of the people” has offered his “thoughts and prayers” in a tweet. To paraphrase Stephen Dedalus: current events are a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.

College radio

“College radio can still be heard in the cacophony”: The Economist reports on college radio in the age of streaming.

Some years ago, I wrote an obituary for my university’s radio station. The station remains on the air, but in 2004 the programming changed. No more classical music, jazz, indie rock, “world music,” country, folk, bluegrass, blues, or hip-hop. No more (highly coveted) free-form shows on Saturday nights. Everything disappeared, along with the station’s deep record library, replaced by a bland, commercially oriented Hit Mix. (There’s also a rhyming name for the Hit Mix.)

Here are playlists from two of my free-form shows, made of my records and the station’s records, as preserved on cassettes. (Late 1980s?)

Jackie Wilson, “Reet Petite” : Clifton Chenier, “I’m the Zydeco Man” : Taj Mahal, “Texas Woman Blues” : Rickie Lee Jones, “Easy Money” : Canned Heat, “Skat” : Little Richard, “Get Rich Quick” : The Rolling Stones, “Time Is on My Side” : The Isley Brothers, “Shout” : The Gun Club, “Preaching the Blues” : X, “The World’s a Mess; It’s in My Kiss” : Joni Mitchell, “You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio” : Elvis Costello, “My Funny Valentine”

Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper, “Elvis Is Everywhere” : Tom Waits, “Hang On St. Christopher” : George Clinton, “R & B Skeletons in the Closet” : James Brown, “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” (Parts One and Two) : Johnny Burnette, “Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee” : Elvis Presley, “Don’t Be Cruel” : Fela Anikulapo Kuti and Africa ’70, “Shuffering and Shmiling” : Talking Heads, “I Zimbra” : Augustus Pablo, “Pablo in Dub” : Ladysmith Black Mambazo, “Hello My Baby” : The Specials, “Monkey Man”

Talk about another lifetime! What was I, an assistant professor wanting to make good, doing on the radio? I did draw some lines: when a caller requested Lou Reed’s “Heroin” — with a dedication, no less — I politely declined.

[Stefan, did you call and request Elvis Costello?]

Reason to hope

Michael Bechloss, historian of the American presidency, has thoughts that give me some reason to hope:

If you look at presidential power in terms of checks and balances, Donald Trump may feel as if he is riding high. If he manages to get his first choice confirmed, he could soon enjoy a strong conservative majority on the Supreme Court, and he dominates his party in Congress in a way we have rarely seen in modern times.

Polls show him with high standing among Republican voters. But history suggests that this may not last forever. Trump is under the growing shadow of the Mueller probe and other investigations. If those inquiries or failure of any of his key policies should undermine his popularity and standing, he may find that Republican senators and members of Congress are no longer so obedient.

As for the Supreme Court majority, history is full of examples in which justices have not turned out to consistently vote as expected. And how often in history has a President been opposed by a majority of the voters with the intensity of the current national opposition to Trump?"
[Axios gives no source for these observations. They appear to be a Twitter thread, but I find no trace of one. I’ve redone the paragraphs to make a less choppy line of thought.]

Separated at birth

 
[Colonel Wilhelm Klink (Werner Klemperer) and Rudy Giuliani.]

I saw the colonel (from Hogan’s Heroes) while flipping channels. And having seen the resemblance, I cannot unsee it. I hope you can’t too.

Also separated at birth
Nicholson Baker and Lawrence Ferlinghetti : Bérénice Bejo and Paula Beer : Ted Berrigan and C. Everett Koop : David Bowie and Karl Held : Victor Buono and Dan Seymour : Ernie Bushmiller and Red Rodney : John Davis Chandler and Steve Buscemi : Ray Collins and Mississippi John Hurt : Broderick Crawford and Vladimir Nabokov : Ted Cruz and Joe McCarthy : Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Gough : Henry Daniell and Anthony Wiener : Jacques Derrida, Peter Falk, and William Hopper : Elaine Hansen (of Davey and Goliath) and Blanche Lincoln : Barbara Hale and Vivien Leigh : Harriet Sansom Harris and Phoebe Nicholls : Steven Isserlis and Pat Metheny : Ton Koopman and Oliver Sacks : Steve Lacy and Myron McCormick : Don Lake and Andrew Tombes : William H. Macy and Michael A. Monahan : Fredric March and Tobey Maguire : Jean Renoir and Steve Wozniak : Molly Ringwald and Victoria Zinny

Some Tuscan rocks



Stefan Hagemann sent along a photograph of some noble Tuscan rocks, with permission to post it here. So here it, and they, are. Thank you, Stefan.

“Some rocks” are an abiding preoccupation of these pages.

Related reading
All “some rocks” posts

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Recently updated

Amphiboly, achoo Now with another version of the cold and fever maxim.

Rabbits

About the previous post: as Brett Terpstra says, in a markedly different context: “Some of us always follow the rabbit.”

Amphiboly, achoo

An example — or so it seems — of amphiboly, “a fallacy produced by ambiguity of syntax or grammatical structure”:

Feed a cold and starve a fever.

Here feed is subjunctive. The sentence is a warning; it means: If you feed a cold, you will have a fever to starve. As commonly interpreted, however, feed is taken to be imperative, and a meaning just the opposite of the one intended is derived.

Sister Miriam Joseph, The Trivium: The Liberal Arts of Logic, Grammar, and Rhetoric, ed. Marguerite McGlinn (Philadelphia: Paul Dry Books 2002).
The editor adds a note: “Surely, this explanation of the ‘feed a cold’ conundrum solves one of life’s minor mysteries.” Or as Mac Dictation would have it, “one of life’s murder mysteries.” But there’s no explanation in this book of why feed should be read as subjunctive.

The notion that one should starve a fever is widely attributed to the lexicographer John Withals, who is said to have written, in 1574, that “Fasting is a great remedie of feuer.” I can find no evidence that he wrote that. The notion that feeding a cold leads to a fever has been attributed to Hippocrates: “If you feed a cold, you will have to starve a fever.” The notion that feeding a fever leads to a cold has also been attributed to Hippocrates: “If you feed a fever, you will have to starve a cold.” Google Books has all the answers. The closest approximation I can find in the works of Hippocrates is this aphorism:
If the same diet be given to a patient with fever as would be suitable for a healthy man, although it would strengthen the healthy it would cause suffering to the sick.

Hippocratic Writings, ed. G.E.R. Lloyd, trans. J. Chadwick and W.N. Mann (London; Penguin, 1978).
But also:
Hippocrates[’s] “On the Method of Diet in Acute Disorders,” gives the foundation of all the correct rules which pertain to dietetics in the treatment of fever connected with a high grade of arterial excitement. And so much did he insist upon their strict observance, that his plan of treatment, by one (Asclepiades) has been spoken of “as merely a contemplation on death.” Although abstinence was a favorite measure with the Father of medicine in commencing the treatment of what, in his day, were called acute fevers, he, nevertheless, says that “a diet which is a little too plentiful is much safer than that which is too sparing and thin.”

John Dawson, “Diet in Typhus Fever,” Boston Medical and Surgical Journal 34, no. 20 (1846).
What to do? An Scientific American article from 2014 resolves the feed/starve problem nicely: “The answer is simmering in a bowl of chicken soup.” In other words, cold or fever, feed it. Eat something. You need to keep up your strength, right? How else are you gonna learn about the trivium?

*

3:05 p.m.: Chris recalled another version of this maxim in a comment: “Feed a cold, starve of fever.” Starve here means “to die, or cause to die.” This version is often rendered as “Fede a cold and starb ob feber,” with Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales named as the source. Here’s a linguist making the claim for Chaucer. But there’s never a tale or line number to go with these attributions. And as you’ll discover if you search the text of the Tales, “Fede a cold and starb ob feber” won’t be found therein.

Reasons to discount an origin in anyone’s Middle English: The obsolete fede never meant “feed”; it meant “an enemy; spec. the Devil.” And though the Swedish feber appears in the OED’s etymology for fever, the dictionary has no record of feber or starb as an English word. And here’s the most interesting part: the OED first records the preposition ob in 1839, as “U.S. regional (chiefly in representations of African-American usage).”

With all that in mind, look at the faux Middle English again: “Fede a cold and starb ob feber.” Starb, ob, feber: the language begins to look more and more like a relic from the world of the minstrel show. But whatever the source, it’s still better to eat something.

[If it doesn’t go without saying: I’m unable to find a source for the Hippocrates passage that Dawson quotes.]

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

“On the shores of the Neckar”

A hurdy-gurdy man is playing in the courtyard:


Alfred Döblin, Berlin Alexanderplatz. 1929. Trans. Michael Hoffman (New York: New York Review Books, 2018).

Here’s a 1926 recording of “Ich hab’ mein Herz in Heidelberg verloren,” music by Fred Raymond, lyrics by Fritz Löhner-Beda and Ernst Neubach (1925). And here are the lyrics, in German and in Google Translate’s best English. Lyrics by Harry S. Pepper appear on recordings of the song in English, as in this 1932 version.

That juxtaposition of voices in Döblin: modernism. I think of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land and Langston Hughes’s “"The Cat and The Saxophone (2 A.M.).”

Related reading
All OCA Döblin posts (Pinboard)

[Occation: not a typo.]

Dan Ingram (1934–2018)

“A quick-thinking, somewhat bawdy jester who mocked songs, singers, sponsors and the weather at WABC-AM”: from the New York Times obituary. Here’s a modest sample of Dan Ingram on the air in 1968.

A related post
Five radios

Monday, June 25, 2018

Stefan Zweig Digital


[From a notebook for Die Welt von Gestern [The world of yesterday]. Violet: Zweig’s preferred ink.]

A new online resource from the University of Salzburg: Stefan Zweig Digital. A ledger, contracts, diaries, notebooks, typescripts, books by Zweig, and books from his library. Some items with scanned pages, most (so far) without. In German only. I had difficulty navigating the site with Google Translate and Safari. Chrome did a better job.

Related reading
All OCA Stefan Zweig posts (Pinboard)

Twelve movies

[Four sentences each. No spoilers.]

Nancy Drew, Detective (dir. William Clemens, 1938). Well, it was on TCM. Silly nonsense, but Bonita Granville as Nancy shows luck, pluck, quick thinking, and comedic skills. Her boyfriend Ted (Frankie Thomas) is just a second banana, even if he can rig an X-ray machine to send a message in Morse code to the River Heights radio station. “Ted Nickerson, what are you doing in my flower bed?”

*

Nightfall (dir. Jacques Tourneur, 1957). On the run from murderous bad guys (Brian Keith, Rudy Bond), innocent James Vanning (Aldo Ray) teams up with Marie Gardner (Anne Bancroft) to form an unlikely couple. Stirling Silliphant’s screenplay and Burnett Guffey’s cinematography make for a superior chase movie. I suspect the fashion-show scene as an influence on North by Northwest, other elements as an influence on the Coens’ Fargo. “Why me?”

*

Wonderstruck (dir. Todd Haynes, 2017). Two stories, one set in 1927, the other in 1977, of a child searching for a parent. Deafness, a bookstore, the American Museum of Natural History, and parallel lines converging. A kids’ movie that should also appeal to grown-ups. “How do you know my name?”

*

RBG (dir. Julie Cohen and Betsy West, 2018). A lively, quick-moving documentary. Did you know that when Ruth Bader Ginsburg began her studies at Harvard Law School she was the mother of a fourteen-month-old child? Ginsburg’s intelligence, determination, good humor, and loyalty to conscience make her a model human being. “She changed everything.”

*

Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story (dir. Alexandra Dean 2017). She was the actress typecast as “the Ecstasy Girl.” And she was an inventor, who, with George Antheil, developed and patented a “Secret Communications System” that made use of frequency hopping. “The brains of people are more interesting than the looks, I think,” Hedy Lamarr told an interviewer. Alas, this routine documentary is not equal to its subject.

*

The Hitch-Hiker (dir. Ida Lupino, 1953). There was a lot more to William Talman than his work as Perry Mason’s adversary Hamilton Burger. In this film, his finest hour, he plays a psychokiller who hitches a ride, pulls a gun, and takes the car’s occupants (Edmond O’Brien and Frank Lovejoy) on a days-long drive through Mexico to escape the law. “Loco,” says a local. Modestly made and relentlessly compelling.

*

Darkest Hour (dir. Joe Wright, 2017). Gary Oldman gives an extraordinary performance as Winston Churchill. But a ridiculously contrived (and wholly fictional) scene of Churchill going to the Underground to sample public opinion made me suspicious of other contrivances, starting with the blue and brown palette that signifies The Past. “It must be late there.” “In more ways than you could possibly know.”

*

The Invisible Man (dir. James Whale, 1933). The special effects are nifty, but the human stuff is more interesting, particularly the conflict between two scientists (invisible Claude Rains and William Harrigan) as rivals for the hand of the white-goddess daughter (Gloria Stuart) of their scientist boss (Henry Travers). Remarkable to find oneself rooting for the pointlessly destructive and utterly murderous Invisible One. “The drugs I took seemed to light up my brain.” Thank goodness this movie was pre-Code.

*

The Unknown Girl (dir. Luc Dardenne and Jean-Pierre Dardenne, 2016). As in Two Days, One Night (the only other film I’ve seen by these directors), the emphasis is on work and moral responsibilities. A young doctor (Adèle Haenel), still in her clinic an hour past closing time, refuses to answer the door and later discovers that the young woman who had been seeking admission has been found dead. Figuring out the unknown girl’s identity and story becomes the doctor’s purpose. “If she was dead, she wouldn’t be in our heads.”

*

White Material (dir. Claire Denis, 2009). Colonialism and its discontents, with Isabelle Hupert as Maria Vail, whose family owns and lives on a coffee plantation in an African nation. Civil war breaks out; the French military flees; bands of child soldiers roam the countryside; and Maria is determined to finish the harvest, whatever the danger, whatever the cost. I thought of this sometimes confusing film as a variation on Brecht’s Mother Courage. “How could I show courage in France?”

*

The Other Side of Hope (dir. Aki Kaurismäki, 2017). Like Le Havre (2011), it’s a film about exile: a Syrian refugee, trying to make a new life in Helsinki, meets up with the owner and employees of an unlucky little restaurant. Lots of Kaurismäki’s deadpan comedy, lots of human goodness and hospitality. Kaurismäki has said that his intention in telling this story was to change Finland first, then the world: no film could be more timely. “I was lost, but good people helped me.”

*

Oleanna (dir. David Mamet, 1994). A professor (William H. Macy), a student (Debra Eisenstadt), conversations behind a closed door, a charge of sexual harassment. Stagy dialogue, improbability, and sheer human ugliness abounding. And who would ever refer to their tenure committee as “good men and true”? This nightmare just doesn’t ring true.

Related reading
All OCA film posts (Pinboard)

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Pencils and missing pencils

The Crow writes about pencils and missing pencils. What would you write with the last pencil on earth?

[Me, a love letter to my fambly.]

Nancy, philosophe


[Nancy, June 24, 2018.]

Nancy is right there with Blaise Pascal: “Le silence éternel de ces espaces infinis m’effraie” [The eternal silence of these infinite spaces frightens me]. She wonders, “Does anything really matter when you’re this small?” before looking at her phone for “something to get mad about on the Internet.” And thus lose “this unbearable sense of perspective.”

Related reading
All OCA Nancy posts (Pinboard)

Saturday, June 23, 2018

From the Saturday Stumper

My three favorite clues from today’s challenging-at-first-but-surprisingly-doable-after-all Newsday Saturday Stumper, by Matthew Sewell:

27-Across, eight letters: “Turkey dinner.”

59-Across, ten letters: “One in a string band?”

23-Down, eleven letters: “Group outside the class system.” HOMESCHOOLS? No.

Oh — and did you know there was a REESE?

No spoilers, aside from the REESE, which may spoil your appetite. The answers are in the comments.

Stanley Cavell (1926–2018)

Stanley Cavell on watching tragic drama:

Now I can give one answer to the question: Why do I do nothing, faced with tragic events? If I do nothing because I am distracted by the pleasures of witnessing this folly, or out of my knowledge of the proprieties of the place I am in, or because I think there will be some more appropriate time in which to act, or because I feel helpless to un-do events of such proportion, then I continue my sponsorship of evil in the world, its sway waiting upon these forms of inaction. I exit running. But if I do nothing because there is nothing to do, where that means that I have given over the time and space in which action is mine and consequently that I am in awe before the fact that I cannot do and suffer what it is another’s to do and suffer, then I confirm the final fact of our separateness. And that is the unity of our condition.

The only essential difference between them and me is that they are there and I am not.

“The Avoidance of Love: A Reading of King Lear,” in Must We Mean What We Say? (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969).
Stanley Cavell, philosopher, died earlier this week. The New York Times has an obituary.

[I can’t help reading this passage — which, again, is about watching a play — in light of what it feels like to watch “the news.”]

Friday, June 22, 2018

A misspelling in the news

It’s rhythem.

N.B.: no misspelling can be called “minor” when it’s on a thirty-foot-tall guitar. Or, for that matter, on any guitar.

Related reading
All OCA spelling and misspelling posts (Pinboard)

“Pepper sardines”

Sardines are not a reason to watch The Other Side of Hope (dir. Aki Kaurismäki, 2017). There are many others. The story, which brings together a Syrian refugee and the owner and employees of a little restaurant in Helsinki, is an exceptionally timely reminder about the possibilities of human goodness and hospitality. Not that such things figure in this scene. Click any image for a larger view:





I especially like the non sequitir “We serve fusion cuisine.” But I think I like the pepper shaker more.

Related reading
All OCA Aki Kaurismäki posts
All OCA sardine posts (Pinboard)

“Against aspiring authoritarians,
and wolves of all kinds”

Cass Sustein, writing about accounts of “ordinary life under Nazism”:

Nearly two centuries ago, James Madison warned: “Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks—no form of government can render us secure.” Haffner offered something like a corollary, which is that the ultimate safeguard against aspiring authoritarians, and wolves of all kinds, lies in individual conscience: in “decisions taken individually and almost unconsciously by the population at large.”
[Sebastian Haffner: pen name of Raimund Pretzel, journalist and writer. His memoir Defying Hitler (1939) is an eyewitness account of Hitler’s rise to power.]

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Two words

Definitions from Merriam-Webster:

migrant: one that migrates: such as
a : a person who moves regularly in order to find work especially in harvesting crops
b : an animal that shifts from one habitat to another

refugee: one that flees; especially : a person who flees to a foreign country or power to escape danger or persecution
Which word more accurately characterizes people leaving Central America and seeking asylum in the United States?

I started to type fleeing for leaving before realizing that I was giving away my answer to the question. We are prosecuting refugees.

20,000 children

From The New York Times:

The Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday asked the Pentagon to make preparations to house as many as 20,000 unaccompanied migrant children on American military bases, a United States official said.
“Zero-tolerance” policies never work well. These preparations bode a humanitarian nightmare — something like a junior version of Guantanamo Bay.

*

June 22: For clarity: these children will be “unaccompanied” because they will have been separated from their parents.

Zippy Lupino


[Zippy, June 21, 2018.]

Zippy must be thinking of the 1953 film The Hitch-Hiker. Ida Lupino directed. William Talman hitched. Elaine and I watched this film on YouTube just last week. But how did Bill Griffith know that?

Related reading
All OCA Zippy posts (Pinboard)

A summer salad

The first day of summer: Persian salad season begins. The link goes to a post with the recipe. Simple to make, goes with almost anything.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Flip-flop

Aaron Blake, writing in The Washington Post about an impending executive order to end the practice of separating parents and children at the U.S.–Mexico border:

Rarely has the White House so tacitly and unmistakably admitted to overplaying its hand. And rarely has it so blatantly copped to its own dishonesty about its actions. [Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen] Nielsen, in particular, has a lot of explaining to do. But this whole thing is an extremely ugly chapter. And it makes clear that, from Day One, this was a political gambit to force an immigration bill through. It didn't work.

“The guts wobble and lurch”

Franz Biberkopf at lunch: “he slices and squashes and bolts and snuffles and gulps and swallows.” And then the stomach gets to work:


Alfred Döblin, Berlin Alexanderplatz. 1929. Trans. Michael Hoffman (New York: New York Review Books, 2018).

Compare the “Lestrygonians” episode of Ulysses. As Mary Roach observes (without reference to Döblin or Joyce), “you too are an organism, a chewing, digesting sack of guts.”

Related reading
All OCA Döblin posts (Pinboard)

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Recently updated

A “government handout video" John Shimkus, now with a position, or an evasion, really.

History in P.S. 131

“It began with the discovery of a trove of historic documents long forgotten in the back recesses of an art cupboard”: Susan De Vries writes about how students at P.S. 131 in Brooklyn have been exploring their school’s past (Brownstoner). Represent!

It’s startling to see a class photograph from 1909: my P.S. 131 first- and third-grade class photographs are eerily similar. The desks are not the same ones (different metalwork), but they still share in that now-dated Platonic form of “desk.”

Here’s more on what was in the cupboard: Borough Park’s P.S. 131, a trove of school history (Brooklyn Public Library). But for residents and ex-residents, it’s usually Boro.

Related posts
P.S. 131, 44th Street, Brooklyn (With photos of the school)
P.S. 131 on TV (With a trip back to the school)
Some have gone and some remain (With a photo of the fence)

P.S. 131 class photographs
1962–1963 1963–1964 1964–1965 1965–1966 1966–1967

[If a Platonic form becomes dated, was it ever really a Platonic form?]

Recently updated

A “government handout video" John Shimkus, still missing in action.

A WWII pilot’s pencil

On the original Antiques Roadshow, an RAF pilot’s pencil, hiding a map and compass. Derwent makes a replica.

Related reading
All OCA pencil posts (Pinboard)

“They burnt me, man”


Alfred Döblin, Berlin Alexanderplatz. 1929. Trans. Michael Hoffman (New York: New York Review Books, 2018).

Related reading
All OCA Döblin posts (Pinboard)

Monday, June 18, 2018

A “government handout video”

David Begnaud is a CBS News correspondent:

These images make my heart break. What kind of country are we living in?

My representative in Congress, John Shimkus (R, Illinois-15), is missing in action on this matter. When I called his Washington office on Saturday, an aide told me that he’s not aware of Shimkus having any position on the separation of parents and children at the U.S.–Mexico border. To remain silent is to be complicit.

*

9:00 a.m.: I called again. No, the aide hasn’t talked to him about this issue, no position that she knows of, he’s not in the office today.

*

3:57 p.m.: I called again. Answering machine. “Mailbox full.”

*

June 19, 10:16 a.m.: No, the aide still hasn’t spoken to him about this issue. But you must be getting a lot of calls? Yes, that’s why it will take time to get back to people. Truth and logic, defenestrated.

*

3:14 p.m.: Finally a position, or an evasion, really: the separation of parents and children is an “unfortunate result” of a “broken immigration system.” An aide read a short statement over the telephone. I jotted down those phrases. Legislation is pending for later this week in the House. Would Representative Shimkus vote for a narrowly focused bill that prohibits this practice without attaching other provisions? Legislation is pending for later this week in the House.

Calling a policy an “unfortunate consequence,” supporting what I presume will be a bill that puts billions of dollars toward a wall in exchange for ending this practice: you’re a real profile in courage, John Shimkus.

Related reading
All OCA John Shimkus posts

Fifty blog-description lines

I’ll quote from a 2014 post:

The first words of Van Dyke Parks’s song “Orange Crate Art” — “Orange crate art was a place to start” — long appeared on this blog as what Blogger calls a blog description line. In May 2010, I found myself unexpectedly caffeine-free and made a new line, keeping the quotation marks that had surrounded Van Dyke’s words. At some point I returned to being caffeinated, mildly so. And I kept changing the line (and saving to a text file), always choosing some word or words or element of punctuation from a post then on the front page. These lines now look like bits of found language, detached from contexts, amusing, banal, evocative, opaque. I like that.
Here are the latest fifty lines, still mildly caffeinated:
“My, that coffee smells good”
“Now is the time”
“I’ll take the Buick”
“We must be better than this”
“Unrestored”
“All by osmosis”
“It’s still Mueller Time”
“Proofread carfully”
“Early-twenty-first-century”
“We’re excited you’re here!”
“Don’t argue”
“Dig the goners”
“Loaded high and to the brim”
“A stranger to all the passers-by”
“Standard equipment”
“Fluke life”
“Where’s the pen and ink and good paper”
“‘Telegram!’”
“‘I flossed!’”
“Quilted steel”
“Evidence-based”
“Earl Grey, or Irish Breakfast?”
“‘Buddy, the wind is blowing’”
“Candy and snacks”
“A cheerful companion”
“Digitized”
“Enough to build a house”
“Mark the music”
“Many a tame sentence”
“‘Till spring?’”
“That was . . . that”
“Didn’t clap”
“Art, check. Sardines, check.”
“Ib”
“Does your person have facial hair OR glasses?”
“Hints, balloons, a line, the other shoe”
“Sound of thinking”
“Small rooms with doors”
“Start your sharpeners”
“Say, why not write this down”
“‘The inexorable sadness of pencils’? Phooey.”
“Unreasonable to me”
“Not employed in formal writing”
“I suspicioned you weren’t.”
“ICYMI”
“Notions and Sundries”
“Tangy”
“Every letter of every page”
“Always wonder”
“Green type”
Collect them all!
Two hundred blog-description lines : Fifty more : And fifty more : And yet another fifty

[Yes, I think there should be a hyphen in blog description line.]

Sunday, June 17, 2018

NPR, sheesh

From a story about wildfires in the American southwest: “visitors tip well to hear old-timey Western tunes like ‘The Entertainer.’”

I suspect that the reporter confused Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and The Sting (1973). Butch Cassidy was the western. Marvin Hamlisch adapted Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer” for The Sting. But even if Joplin’s composition had been part of Butch Cassidy, that wouldn’t make it a “Western” tune. No more than Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s“Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” is a “Western” tune. Category mistake.

Related reading
All OCA sheesh posts (Pinboard)

Music for Father’s Day

I’ve reached the end of the recorded alphabet. Another way of putting it: I’ve listened to my dad’s CDs, 400+ CDs. I started in October 2016, which means that I’ve averaged something like one CD every thirty-six hours or so: Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, Ivie Anderson, Louis Armstrong, Fred Astaire, Mildred Bailey, Count Basie, Tony Bennett, Art Blakey, Ruby Braff and Ellis Larkins, Clifford Brown, Dave Brubeck, Joe Bushkin, Hoagy Carmichael, Betty Carter, Ray Charles, Charlie Christian, Rosemary Clooney, Nat “King” Cole, John Coltrane, Bing Crosby, Miles Davis, Matt Dennis, Doris Day, Blossom Dearie, Paul Desmond, Tommy Dorsey, Billy Eckstine, Duke Ellington, Bill Evans, Gil Evans, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Erroll Garner, Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Stéphane Grappelli, Bobby Hackett, Coleman Hawkins, Woody Herman, Earl Hines, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Dick Hyman, Harry James, Hank Jones, Louis Jordan, Stan Kenton, Barney Kessel, Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross, Peggy Lee, Mary Ann McCall, Susannah McCorkle, Dave McKenna, Ray McKinley, Marian McPartland, Johnny Mercer, Helen Merrill, Glenn Miller, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Thelonious Monk, Wes Montgomery, Gerry Mulligan, Red Norvo, Anita O’Day, Charlie Parker, Joe Pass, Art Pepper, Oscar Peterson, Bud Powell, Boyd Raeburn, Django Reinhardt, Marcus Roberts, Sonny Rollins, Jimmy Rushing, Catherine Russell, the Sauter-Finegan Orchestra, Artie Shaw, George Shearing, Horace Silver, Frank Sinatra, Paul Smith, Jeri Southern, Jo Stafford, Art Tatum, Claude Thornhill, Mel Tormé, McCoy Tyner, Sarah Vaughan, Joe Venuti, Fats Waller, Fran Warren, Dinah Washington, Ethel Waters, Ben Webster, Paul Weston, Margaret Whiting, Lee Wiley, Teddy Wilson, and, finally, Lester Young.

Here are two (unembeddable) Young recordings. I’ve had them for years on LP. For whatever reason, their CD release — Lester Young Trio, Verve (1994) — retains plenty of surface noise. Listen past the noise for a joyful modernism. Lester Young, tenor sax; Nat King Cole, piano; Buddy Rich, drums. Recorded March or April 1946 in Los Angeles:

“I Want to Be Happy” (Vincent Youmans–Irving Caesar)
“I’ve Found a New Baby” (Jack Palmer–Spencer Williams)

My dad’s LPs shaped so much of my interest in music. Or rather: not his LPs but his playing them for the very young me. No joke: I had baby-talk for “Miles Davis” and “Columbia.” Listening to my dad’s CDs has put me touch in musicians to whom I’ve given only cursory attention — especially Mildred Bailey, Blossom Dearie, and Artie Shaw. Thanks, Dad.

And Happy Father’s Day to fathers.

Also from my dad’s CDs
Mildred Bailey : Tony Bennett : Charlie Christian : Blossom Dearie : Duke Ellington : Coleman Hawkins : Billie Holiday : Louis Jordan : Charlie Parker : Jimmy Rushing : Artie Shaw : Frank Sinatra : Art Tatum : Mel Tormé : Sarah Vaughan : Joe Venuti : Fats Waller : Lee Wiley

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Parents and children and money

Writing in The Washington Post, James A. Coan, a clinical psychologist and neuroscientist, considers the long-term effect on children of separation from their parents and concludes that “the Trump administration is committing violence against children”:

At minimum, forced separation will cause these children extreme emotional distress. Most of us know this intuitively. Less intuitive, as Nim Tottenham of Columbia University told me, is that “the sadness is not the thing that really matters here. What matters is this is a trauma to the developing nervous system.”
And:
Charles Nelson, a pediatrics professor at Harvard Medical School, provided the comprehensive long-term view: As those children grow and develop into adults, the combination of chronic inflammation and behavioral inflexibility will impair their health in at least two ways — through direct weathering of their bodies and less effective problem-solving, impulse control and decision-making.

Just to make sure I’d heard him right, I said: “So psychological trauma is mediating a pathway to brain trauma, and that is affecting behavior down the road, which can affect health and longevity?” He replied: “Yeah, you got it.”
A recent New York Times editorial about the Trump administration’s barbaric policy of separating children from their parents at the U.S.–Mexico border listed five groups accepting contributions: Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, The Florence Project, Kids in Need of Defense, The Texas Civil Rights Project, and The Young Center. Hint, hint: tomorrow is Father’s Day. It’s a good time to give something.

From the Saturday Stumper

Aside from some tough stuff in the northeast corner, today’s Newsday Saturday Stumper, by Brad Wilber, is easy. Or E-Z. Pretty. Or very.

I was happy to see the clue for 15-Across, eight letters (a giveaway, at least for me): “‘Mother of the Blues’ who sang with Satchmo.” It might be more accurate to say that Louis Armstrong played in her band. For instance.

Another giveaway, 43-Down, seven letters: “Find rain in Iran, e.g.”

And a trickier clue, 67-Across, eight letters: “Setting for many mass movements.” WORKSITE? No. And no spoilers. The answers are in the comments.

Bloomsday 2018

From James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922), a passage from my favorite episode of the novel, “Ithaca,” which takes the form of a catechism. What Leopold Bloom thinks about when he goes to sleep:



Many years ago I wrote a note in the margin for “one sole unique advertisement”: “in a sense he’s a poet, an Imagist.” Well, maybe. And another for “not exceeding,” &c.: “not Ulysses!” True that.

The word of the day from the Oxford English Dictionary today is Bloomsday: “‘The 16th of June 1904. Also: the 16th of June of any year, on which celebrations take place, esp. in Ireland, to mark the anniversary of the events in Joyce’s Ulysses.”

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

Friday, June 15, 2018

An editorial

A New York Times editorial: “Seizing Children From Parents at the Border Is Immoral. Here’s What We Can Do About It.” Have you called your representatives in Congress yet?

And now, just minutes ago: “Trump says he would oppose immigration bill cobbled together by House GOP, dealing a blow to leaders rallying support for it” (The Washington Post).

[There is such a thing as overriding a veto.]

Mac hardware :(

Mac developer Quentin Carnicelli writes about the sad state of Mac hardware:

It’s very difficult to recommend much from the current crop of Macs to customers, and that’s deeply worrisome to us, as a Mac-based software company. For our own internal needs, we’ve wound up purchasing used hardware for testing, rather than opting to compromise heavily on a new machine. That isn’t good for Apple, nor is it what we want. . . .

Apple needs to publicly show their commitment to the full Macintosh hardware line, and they need to do it now. As a long (long) time Mac OS developer, one hesitates to bite the hand that feeds. At a certain point, however, it seems there won’t even be anything left worth biting.
My late-2011 MacBook Pro won’t be able to use the upcoming macOS 10.14. I’d like to buy a new, faster machine, but one try at the MBP’s redesigned keyboard put me off. And that was before I knew about keyboard failures. So for now, I’ll be holding out with Roy Earle.

One quick way to make an older machine faster online: use Cloudflare’s DNS. Bam!

“Germania Round the Clock”


Alfred Döblin, Berlin Alexanderplatz. 1929. Trans. Michael Hoffman (New York: New York Review Books, 2018).

Related reading
All OCA Döblin posts (Pinboard)

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Prestigious signatures

An ugly episode in academia: a Title IX investigation of Avital Ronell, followed by a letter supporting her, signed by prominent academics, that reads like an effort to decide the case. The Chronicle of Higher Education describes the situation. The letter (a version has been posted online) acknowledges that those who have signed have “no access to the confidential dossier” of the complaint against Ronell. Still, the signers “seek to register in clear terms our objection to any judgment against her.” The letter trades, blatantly, on academic prestige:

There is arguably no more important figure in literary studies at New York University than Avital Ronell whose intellectual power and fierce commitment to students and colleagues has established her as an exemplary intellectual and mentor throughout the academy. As you know, she is the Jacques Derrida Chair of Philosophy at the European Graduate School and she was recently given the award of Chevalier of Arts and Letters by the French government.
I will quote something I wrote in 2007, when a story came to light about Jacques Derrida’s attempt quash a sexual harassment charge against a friend and colleague:
Injustice in this situation would seem to me to be the use of academic power and prestige to influence the resolution of a harassment charge.
That goes for this situation as well.

Ronell knows something about prestigious signatures. She was quoted in a Los Angeles Times article about the Derrida case:
“Toward the end of his life, he enjoyed the same status as Aristotle among the ancients, and every perception of injustice was routed to his desk,” said Avital Ronell, a Derrida protege who teaches at New York University. “Even as he was crawling with fatigue, he put himself in the service of those seeking his help and needing the strength of his prestigious signature.”
Very strange: by 2009, that passage, which lives on at several websites, had disappeared from the online article. And today, neither Derrida nor Ronell can be found in the Times archives. Stranger still: this afternoon, they can be. But this article is still missing.

August 15: Further developments.

[In a 2007 Chronicle article (behind the paywall), Ronell describes Derrida’s friend and colleague in less than noble terms: “‘This guy had nothing better to do than to ask Jacques for help.’”]

La Posta Fazzio


[Click for an even larger label.]

Elaine and I like South American wines. When we finished reading Jorge Luis Borges’s Collected Fictions, we bought several bottles from Argentina. It was the label that drew me to La Posta Fazzio Malbec. It so happens that the wine is good too. But that label!

Here is Domingo Fazzio, holding a bottle of his Malbec. ¡Salud!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Zippy Dean


[Zippy, June 13, 2018.]

In today’s Zippy, Zippy walks in the rain, just like James Dean in a famous Dennis Stock photograph. The last panel of today’s strip has its source in a less famous photograph. The other two panels? Nothing has turned up.

This post has been brought to you by the S&A Detective Agency, tracking down sources and analogues since earlier this week.

Related reading
All OCA Zippy posts (Pinboard)

[“Sources and analogues”: a form of literary scholarship. For instance, Sources and Analogues of Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales.”]

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Whatever became of John Kidd?

“I started by contacting all the homeless shelters in Brookline”: in The New York Times, Jack Hiatt recounts his search for the James Joyce scholar John Kidd. Readers of a certain age may remember Kidd’s 1988 article “The Scandal of Ulysses and the controversy surrounding Hans Walter Gabler’s 1984 edition of Joyce’s novel. And here is David Abel’s 2002 Boston Globe article about John Kidd, “A Plummet from Grace.”

I sold my copy of Gabler’s three-volume “critical and synoptic edition” some years ago. It had begun to feel like an artifact from someone else’s life.

[Two quarrels with Hiatt’s article: Kidd was not regarded as “the greatest James Joyce scholar.” And Leopold Bloom is not a “schlub.”]

“Sliding imperceptibly forward”


Alfred Döblin, Berlin Alexanderplatz. 1929. Trans. Michael Hoffman (New York: New York Review Books, 2018).

Related reading
All OCA Döblin posts (Pinboard)

Channeling Chandler


[Zippy, June 12, 2018.]

Zippy is channeling Raymond Chandler again. From the story “Red Wind” (1938):

There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch.
Today’s strip borrows also from The Big Sleep (1939). Just doing my job here at S&A.

Related reading
All OCA Zippy posts (Pinboard)
Talking like a Raymond Chandler novel

[S&A: the Sources and Analogues Detective Agency.]

DKNK

Nicholas Kristof: “It’s breathtaking to see an American president emerge as a spokesman for the dictator of North Korea.”

And then there was this comment:

“They have great beaches. You see that whenever they’re exploding their cannons into the ocean, right? I said ‘Boy, look at that view. Wouldn’t that make a great condo behind?’ And I explained, I said, you know, instead of doing that you could have the best hotels in the world right there. Think of it from a real-estate perspective.”
As Elaine can attest, I thought that hotels were going to come into the discussion.

[DK: Dunning K. Trump. With apologies to DKNY. I have transcribed Trump’s remarks about beaches to add the behind and you know that the Times omitted.]

Monday, June 11, 2018

“Act an ASS”

“Use your voice. Take a risk. Act an ASS”: four screenshots worth reading and thinking about.

See also Timothy Snyder’s On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century: “Do not obey in advance.”

A mystery supply


[Actual size: 1¾″ tall.]

Our household likes to repurpose household objects: bakeware as a laptop stand, a cardboard box as a blog post (really), a cork and a doorstop as iPad stands, a dish drainer as a file tray, tea tins as index-card holders, a thermostat as a paperweight, tiles as paperweights.

The mystery item in this photograph is a household object of sorts that I turned into a “supply” — something at home in the world of stationery and office supplies. What is the object? And what might be its supply-side use? Leave your best guesses in a comment. I will add a hint if needed.

*

Chris identified the object: a stopper from a bottle of sparkling wine. Here’s a hint: this object’s supply life also involves liquid.

*

The mystery revealed: this stopper is the perfect accessory for filling a fountain pen when a bottle of ink is nearly empty. Pour some ink into the tube, insert the pen, and fill. It’s like filling the pen from a full bottle.

[This post is the nineteenth in a very 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.]

Other Museum of Supplies exhibits
C. & E.I. pencil : Dennison’s Gummed Labels No. 27 : Dr. Scat : Eagle Turquoise display case : Eagle Verithin display case : Esterbrook erasers : Faber-Castell Type Cleaner : Fineline erasers : Illinois Central Railroad Pencil : A Mad Men sort of man, sort of : Mongol No. 2 3/8 : Moore Metalhed Tacks : National’s “Fuse-Tex” Skytint : Pedigree Pencil : Pentel Quicker Clicker : Real Thin Leads : Rite-Rite Long Leads : Stanley carpenter’s rule

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Tape

Politico reports on Dunning K. Trump’s “unofficial ‘filing system’”:

Under the Presidential Records Act, the White House must preserve all memos, letters, emails and papers that the president touches, sending them to the National Archives for safekeeping as historical records.

But White House aides realized early on that they were unable to stop Trump from ripping up paper after he was done with it and throwing it in the trash or on the floor, according to people familiar with the practice.
Impulse control? Self-restraint? Not much. This is a president with no respect for norms, even the most trivial ones. Thus federal employees have been assigned to tape back together the documents the president rips up.

Thanks, Elaine.

No science

From The New York Times:

Mr. Trump is the first president since 1941 not to name a science adviser, a position created during World War II to guide the Oval Office on technical matters ranging from nuclear warfare to global pandemics.
Keep reading; it gets worse.

Spelling in the news

The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge: missing a z.

Related reading
All OCA spelling and misspelling posts (Pinboard)

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Bill Griffith’s Metamorphoses


[Zippy, June 9, 2018.]

Franz Kafka has awakened to discover that he has Zippy’s body: Kafka as Zippy as Gregor Samsa.

Venn reading
All OCA Kafka posts : Kafka and Zippy posts : Zippy posts

[You can read Zippy daily at Comics Kingdom.]

From the Saturday Stumper

Today’s Newsday Saturday Stumper, by Frank Longo, is a difficulty-fest, especially in the midwest and southwest. The puzzle’s midwest and southwest, that is. For instance:

38-Across, nine letters: “Tortilla, at times.” TACOSHELL? Nope.

59-Across, five letters: “It’s not a lock.”

47-Down, four letters: “Coup follower, perhaps.”

49-Down, four letters: “Green type.” NEON? Nope.

My favorite clue in today’s puzzle, 55-Across, nine letters: “Things with numbers that spin.”

No spoilers in crossword posts; the answers are in the comments.

Friday, June 8, 2018

“The ‘Desert Island’ Explained”


[Illustration by Ben Leddy. 18 × 12 inches. Click for a much larger island.]

I found a sketchpad at the bottom of a closet and began to turn the pages. Think of this illustration as a young (ten?) artist’s explanation of a standard cartooning premise.

[Posted with the artist’s permission.]

Rhymes with Moscow


[Zippy, June 8, 2018.]

Today’s Zippy calls for knowledge of a jingle.

Related reading
All OCA Zippy posts (Pinboard)

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Be prepared (?)

““I think I’m very well prepared. I don’t think I have to prepare very much”: Dunning K. Trump, commenting on his upcoming meeting with Kim Jong-un. Yeah, you got this.

Related reading
All OCA Dunning-Kruger posts

NJ OED

“Welcome to Jersey, where the sandwiches are fat, GSP can refer to a mall or a major highway and ripper isn’t part of the moniker for a serial killer”: the Oxford English Dictionary is looking for words from New Jersey.

This post is for our friends Luanne and Jim, who introduced us to Rutt’s Hut, home of the ripper. It was great to restaurant-hop with Luanne and Jim here in Illinois this week.

[Fat sandwiches: yikes. GSP: Garden State Plaza, Garden State Parkway.]

Clarence Fountain (1929–2018)

Clarence Fountain, gospel singer and leader of the Blind Boys of Alabama, has died at the age of eighty-eight. The New York Times has an obituary.

Here is one small sample of Clarence Fountain’s voice that’s dear to me: “Stop Do Not Go On,” from The Gospel at Colonus (1985), with the Five Blind Boys of Alabama, J.J. Farley and the Original Soul Stirrers, and Sam Butler. Lyrics by Lee Breuer, music by Bob Telson. Based on Sophocles’s Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus, and Antigone, as translated by Dudley Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald. YouTube also has The Gospel at Colonus in its entirety. It’s one of the most remarkable and emotionally powerful reimaginings of ancient myth I know.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Recently updated

Oui yogurt Now with Vietnamese coffee.

Rogers artifacts

A puppet, a letter, a memo, a photograph, a video clip: “Fred Rogers’s Life in Five Artifacts.” The documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (dir. Morgan Neville) opens on June 8.

Mister Rogers really did answer his mail. We have two letters from him in our files, one for the grown-ups, one for the non-.

Related posts
Blaming Mister Rogers : Fred Rogers and Pittsburgh : Lady Elaine’s can : Off, or back, to school

Got gum?


[Henry, June 6, 2018.]

In the dowdy world, all stamps must be licked. But not at the window.

Related reading
All OCA dowdy world and Henry posts (Pinboard)

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Putting the wagon before the horse

Driving through Amish country, I saw a wagon with one horse, one driver, and a second horse tethered to the wagon and following behind. I wondered: an Amish tow truck? No, more likely a horse in training, or a horse that needed to be dropped off somewhere. Which would make the wagon something of a tow truck, wouldn’t it? Your guess may be better than mine.

“Exquisite Mexico melange”

Coffee, coffee, coffee:


Alfred Döblin, Berlin Alexanderplatz. 1929. Trans. Michael Hoffman (New York: New York Review Books, 2018).

Related reading
All OCA Döblin posts (Pinboard)

Monday, June 4, 2018

From my dad’s CDs

I’m closing in on the end of the recorded alphabet: Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, Ivie Anderson, Louis Armstrong, Fred Astaire, Mildred Bailey, Count Basie, Tony Bennett, Art Blakey, Ruby Braff and Ellis Larkins, Clifford Brown, Dave Brubeck, Joe Bushkin, Hoagy Carmichael, Betty Carter, Ray Charles, Charlie Christian, Rosemary Clooney, Nat “King” Cole, John Coltrane, Bing Crosby, Miles Davis, Matt Dennis, Doris Day, Blossom Dearie, Paul Desmond, Tommy Dorsey, Billy Eckstine, Duke Ellington, Bill Evans, Gil Evans, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Erroll Garner, Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Stéphane Grappelli, Bobby Hackett, Coleman Hawkins, Woody Herman, Earl Hines, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Dick Hyman, Harry James, Hank Jones, Louis Jordan, Stan Kenton, Barney Kessel, Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross, Peggy Lee, Mary Ann McCall, Susannah McCorkle, Dave McKenna, Ray McKinley, Marian McPartland, Johnny Mercer, Helen Merrill, Glenn Miller, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Thelonious Monk, Wes Montgomery, Gerry Mulligan, Red Norvo, Anita O’Day, Charlie Parker, Joe Pass, Art Pepper, Oscar Peterson, Bud Powell, Boyd Raeburn, Django Reinhardt, Marcus Roberts, Sonny Rollins, Jimmy Rushing, Catherine Russell, the Sauter-Finegan Orchestra, Artie Shaw, George Shearing, Horace Silver, Frank Sinatra, Paul Smith, Jeri Southern, Jo Stafford, Art Tatum, Claude Thornhill, Mel Tormé, McCoy Tyner, Sarah Vaughan, Joe Venuti, Fats Waller, Fran Warren, Dinah Washington, Ethel Waters, Ben Webster, Paul Weston, Margaret Whiting, and now, Lee Wiley.

Lee Wiley (1908–1975) — I know, hardly a household name, and I’ve known her from just a single LP — was a terrific singer. I’d liken her to Billie Holiday: not a virtuoso but a distinctive and instantly recognizable voice. Leonard Feather’s Encyclopedia of Jazz (1960) calls attention to the “husky, erotic warmth” in Wiley’s voice. I’d note also the beautifully fragile, reedy quality of her high register. Here are two tunes from Night in Manhattan (Columbia, 1951), with Joe Bushkin and His Swinging Strings. Bushkin is at the piano; Bobby Hackett plays cornet:

“I’ve Got a Crush on You” (George Gershwin–Ira Gershwin)
“Manhattan” (Richard Rodgers–Lorenz Hart)


[“Vocalist Lee Wiley singing accompanied by her husband pianist Jess Stacy, Eddie Condon on guitar, Sid Weiss on bass & Cozy Cole on drums during jam session in studio of LIFE photographer Gjon Mili.” Photograph by Gjon Mili. 1943. From the Life Photo Archive. Photographs from this session appeared in the Life feature “Jam Session,” October 11, 1943. Click for a larger view.]

Thanks to Fresca for Leonard Feather’s Encyclopedia of Jazz, which includes home addresses for musicians willing to list them. It’s mid-century again in Manhattan, and Lee Wiley resides at 60 Sutton Place South.

Also from my dad’s CDs
Mildred Bailey : Tony Bennett : Charlie Christian : Blossom Dearie : Duke Ellington : Coleman Hawkins : Billie Holiday : Louis Jordan : Charlie Parker : Jimmy Rushing : Artie Shaw : Frank Sinatra : Art Tatum : Mel Tormé : Sarah Vaughan : Joe Venuti : Fats Waller

It’s ringing

“The expectation of pickup was what made phones a synchronous medium:” Alexis Madrigal, “Why No One Answers Their Phone Anymore” (The Atlantic).

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Group work


[Nancy, June 3, 2018.]

“Group work is good preparation for what it will be like to work in teams when you have real jobs,” Nancy’s teacher just announced. In the earlier-that-same-day final panel of today’s strip, another teacher tells Nancy’s teacher that she’s forgotten to plan for class: “Let’s just fill the time with group work.”

I don’t think I’ve ever known a student who favored group projects to be completed outside the classroom. I’ve heard too many accounts from trusted sources of projects in which one or two students ended up doing the work of the group. I have nothing against students splitting into small groups in class, say, to read and talk about a piece of student writing. But I know that even the reading-and-discussing-in-class can be an easy way for an instructor to take some time off from teaching (and sit grading papers).

I always liked asking students to realize that they’d been doing “group work” all their lives. Being a member of a family, of a circle of friends, of an organization, being a resident of a dorm: that’s all group work. And I still agree with what Richard Mitchell wrote in The Graves of Academe (1981): “It is only in a mind that the work of the mind can be done.” As anyone stuck with doing the work of the whole group can attest.

Related reading
All OCA Nancy posts (Pinboard)
Models for education (“Sage on the stage,” “guide on the side”)
Review: Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa’s Academically Adrift

[The last sentence of this post: a joke. I do believe in the possibilities of collaboration.]

Saturday, June 2, 2018

From the Saturday Stumper

My favorite clue from today’s Newsday Saturday Stumper, 44-Down, seven letters: “‘Canvas’ for digital art.” IPADMINI? No, too big. No spoilers in crossword posts; the answer is in the comments.

Today’s puzzle by Matthew Sewell, is difficult, but not excessively so. I solved it, which means that it’s perfect. (Solipsism at play.)

Friday, June 1, 2018

Allyn Ann McLerie (1926–2018)

“Her most acclaimed later role was as Florence Bickford, the mother of the title character (played by Blair Brown) on The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd”: from the New York Times obituary for Allyn Ann McLerie.

[Orange Crate Art is a Molly Dodd-friendly zone.]

Domestic comedy

“That beer at dinner wiped me for a loop.”

“Wiped?”

“Knocked me for a loop. It’s a good thing I have my insoles in so I can walk straight.”

Related reading
All OCA domestic comedy posts (Pinboard)

[The beer: Modelo Negra.]

“Too smoky for the smoke”

At the Neue Welt, a Berlin concert hall:


Alfred Döblin, Berlin Alexanderplatz. 1929. Trans. Michael Hoffman (New York: New York Review Books, 2018).

Related reading
All OCA Döblin posts (Pinboard)