Friday, January 31, 2020

“Books saved my life”

A building super (Taylor Schilling) and a tenant who’s a librarian (Emilio Estevez) are talking:

“So you’re really into books, huh?”

“Books saved my life.”

“Saved your life?”

“Books helped me get sober and helped me turn my life around. They were tangible and they were real, something I could get my hands and my head around. So yeah, they saved my life.”
That’s one of the better moments from The Public (dir. Emilio Estevez, 2018), a film that remains admirable even if it jumps a shark.

“Just words”

More experienced aides had learned that “best practices” for success with Donald Trump* meant coming in with one point: “ONE POINT. Just that one point.” But not everyone listened:

I saw a number of appointees as they dismissed the advice of wisened hands and went in to see President Trump, prepared for robust policy discussion on momentous national topics, and a peppery give-and-take. They invariably paid the price.

“What the fuck is this?” the president would shout, looking at a document one of them handed him. “These are just words. A bunch of words. It doesn’t mean anything.” Sometimes he would throw the papers back on the table. He definitely wouldn’t read them.

Anonymous, A Warning (New York: Twelve, 2019).

Thursday, January 30, 2020

“Don’t be surprised, be angry”

Autocratic solipsism

“If a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment”: Alan Dershowitz here advances a theory of what I’d call autocratic solipsism. The end justifies the means. And what justifies the end? A president’s estimate of his or her importance to the nation’s well-being. Dershowitz invites his audience to imagine a president who muses,

“I want to be elected. I think I’m a great president. I think I’m the greatest president there ever was. And if I’m not elected, the national interest will suffer greatly.”
What follows from such thinking, Dershowitz says, “cannot be an impeachable offense.”

Notice that Dershowitz conflates the interests of president and nation — what’s good for me is good for the country. And notice that Dershowitz doesn’t stop to consider that what might be in a president’s interest or a nation’s interest might also be contrary to law. And notice that he doesn’t stop to consider the possibility of a candidate not yet elected engaging in this same specious thinking. Notice too that Dershowitz never stops to consider that a president with the conviction of being “the greatest president there ever was” would appear to be suffering from dangerous delusions of grandeur and perhaps be unfit for office. But we already know who Dershowitz is aiming to please.

Alan Dershowitz, I regret to say, is the Rudolph Giuliani of Stanley Fishes.

A Ravel Kaddish, arr. Fine



Yesterday, at the European Parliament in Brussels, the Karski Quartet and Naomi Couquet performed Elaine Fine’s arrangement of a Maurice Ravel setting of the Kaddish, originally for voice and piano. The performance marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 27). Video available here. Elaine’s arrangement is available from the IMSPL. Click on the Arrangements tab.

In 2019 the Quatuor Girard and Clémence Poussin performed the same arrangement. Video available here.

What an honor for Elaine, aka Musical Assumptions, aka my spouse.

Distance learning

Herb Childress:

Good teaching and learning have always been labor–intensive processes. As one of my correspondents, a provost at an elite undergraduate college, said, “When the movement to MOOCs was at its rabid peak a couple of years ago and some members of our board were talking about starting to do more distance education, I regularly told them that at our school, distance education is the length of a table.”

The Adjunct Underclass: How America’s Colleges Betrayed Their Faculty, Their Students, and Their Mission (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019).
Childress offers a frank, clear-eyed analysis of what’s wrong with American higher education. And he has recommendations for improvement.

Related posts
“A fully realized adult person” : Colleges and bakeries : The gold standard, haircuts, and everyone else : Offline, real-presence education

[MOOC: massive open online course.]

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Small pleasures

House Manager Adam Schiff (D, California-18) today spoke the word copasetic on the Senate floor. And he referenced some famous phrasing from Casablanca : “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world,” casting Burisma as Rick’s Café Américain.

[My spelling follows that used by the Copasetics.]

Word of the day: gormless

From Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (1847):

“I’ve tied his tongue,” observed Heathcliff. “He’ll not venture a single syllable all the time! Nelly, you recollect me at his age — nay, some years younger. Did I ever look so stupid, so ‘gaumless,’ as Joseph calls it?”
Joseph, you may recall, is a sour, pious servant at Wuthering Heights. He speaks a Yorkshire dialect — thus gaumless, or gormless.

The Oxford English Dictionary explains gormless as the union of the dialect word gaum, for gome, “notice, understanding,” and the suffix -less. To be gormless is to be “wanting sense, or discernment.” The dictionary’s first citation is given as ?1746. The question from Wuthering Heights comes second, followed by citations from 1861, 1881, 1883, and so on. It seems reasonable to speculate that Brontë’s novel led to more frequent use of the word. This Google Ngram shows use beginning to rise in 1854. Gaumless started to rise in 1853. Granted, the various editions of Brontë’s novel in Google Books might account for those initial spikes. The steep drop from 2011 to 2012 for both words is probably best explained by a lack of scanned books.

I always think of gormless and followed by wonder — the kind of insult people toss around in old movies. No gormless wonders in the OED though.

Prefix workout

From The Chicago Manual of Style: a prefix workout. That is, ten questions about prefixes. Hard! There are forty more Chicago workouts.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Thug life

This morning: “That reporter couldn’t have done too good a job on you, eh? I think you did a good job on her, actually.”

And there’s been further retaliation against NPR.

Pete Buttigieg and Seneca

A New York Times feature: “20 (More) Questions With Democrats.” I like Pete Buttigieg’s answer about the last book he read:

“I just finished a book by Seneca. Well, it was a very short book, with his commentary on the shortness of life. He says life is plenty long as long you know how to live it, something like that.”
I think Buttigieg must be describing the Penguin Great Ideas paperback On the Shortness of Life (2005). Look at the cover:



Says Buttigieg, “With all the noise going on right now, it’s a good time to go back to the Stoics.”

Like the Joycean title Shortest Way Home and the umpteen languages, the answer “Seneca” isn’t enough to make me want to vote for Buttigieg, but it’s an arresting answer. The folksy tone — “plenty long,” “something like that” — bugs me a little. Wear your learning lightly, sir, but don’t tear a hole in it to look more down-home. Other candidates’ answers: Malcolm Gladwell, a murder mystery, a history of World War I, the history of Sherrod Brown’s Senate desk, a book about ways to reduce carbon emissions.

It’s always a good time to go back to the Stoics, but this Senecan perspective baffles me. I think I’d say that life is short — too short — if you know how to use it and can. I side with Herbert Fingarette: “I still would like to hang around.”

Monday, January 27, 2020

“Peace, prosperity[,] and”

The Guardian reports that the novelist Philip Pullman is calling for a boycott of a Brexit 50p coin. The coin carries the inscription “Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations.”

“The ‘Brexit’ 50p coin is missing an Oxford comma, and should be boycotted by all literate people,” wrote the novelist on Twitter, while Times Literary Supplement editor Stig Abell wrote that, while it was “not perhaps the only objection” to the Brexit-celebrating coin, “the lack of a comma after ‘prosperity’ is killing me.”
Thanks to Gunther at Lexikaliker for passing on the news.

Related reading
All OCA comma posts (Pinboard)
How to punctuate a sentence
How to punctuate more sentences

Separated at birth

 
[Henri Gaudier-Brzeska and Adam Driver.]

Watching Saturday Night Live this past Saturday, I began to think, He really does look like Gaudier-Brzeska. It was late, and the resemblance isn’t exact. But I still think it holds.

The artist and sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska (1891–1915) is known to many a student of modernist poetry by way of Ezra Pound’s Gaudier-Brzeska: A Memoir. The actor Adam Driver is known to many a student of modernist poetry by way of Jim Jarmusch’s film Paterson.

Also separated at birth
Claude Akins and Simon Oakland : 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 : Charles Grassley and Abraham Jebediah Simpson II : 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 : Colonel Wilhelm Klink and Rudy Giuliani : 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

Sluggo’s noes

 
[Nancy, date unknown. Nancy, January 27, 2020.]

The Ernie Bushmiller panel, left, has been called “the greatest Nancy panel ever drawn.” I find it difficult to think that Olivia Jaimes’s no is just coincidence. As today’s strip begins, Sluggo has announced that he is good at walking around with untied shoelaces. But, Esther asks, isn’t he worried about tripping and falling? Sluggo kicks his legs and responds.

Related reading
All OCA Nancy posts (Pinboard)

Sunday, January 26, 2020

“(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay”

The latest episode of the BBC Radio 4 show Soul Music is devoted to Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.”

Jaimes and Nancy FTW

Best Cartoonist, 2019: Olivia Jaimes. Best Original Volume, 2019: Nancy: A Comic Collection. As voted by the writers of ComicBook.com.

Related reading
All OCA Nancy posts (Pinboard)

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Today’s Saturday Stumper

For me, solving today’s Newsday Saturday Stumper, by Matthew Sewell, came down to choosing a letter to complete answers whose clues baffled me: 38-A, four letters, “Quintet in an ‘Executive Clicker’” and 38-D, three letters, “It means ‘resembling.’” I chose the only letter that seemed plausible, and thus — somehow — the puzzle was done. It wasn’t until I began explaining to Elaine how baffling these clues and answers were that I understood them.

Some clue-and-answer pairs that I especially liked (and understood more easily):

9-D, six letters, “Test of consumer confidence?” Seems to continue a minor theme in Saturday Stumpers.

20-A, nine letters, “Comic book collector’s supply.” An unusual answer, at least in my solving experience.

26-A, six letters, “Muddy.” A nice instance of misdirection.

28-A, seven letters, “Keeled over, to Barbra.” I loved this answer, even if I’m not crazy about Barbra.

31-D, ten letters, “Debugs.” You were thinking computers?

40-A, eleven letters, “Experiential.” I’m back in college.

And a clue that taught me something: 58-A, four letters, “Snub, so to speak.” I thought that the clue was asking for a bit of contemporary slang, but no. The answer has been colloquial American English for some time.

No spoilers: that answer and all the others are in the comments.

Friday, January 24, 2020

EXchange name sighting


[Somewhere in San Francisco. Danger Zone (dir. William Berke, 1951). Click for a larger view.]

Hugh Beaumont exits a Yellow Cab. TUxedo was indeed a San Francisco exchange, as telephone number-cards attest. TUxedo 5-1234 was indeed the number of the Yellow Cab Company. And before that, TUxedo 1234. Here’s an advertising thermometer with the shorter number. And here’s someone who recalls the added 5.

More EXchange names on screen
Act of Violence : The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse : Armored Car Robbery : Baby Face : Blast of Silence : The Blue Dahlia : Boardwalk Empire : Born Yesterday : The Brasher Doubloon : Chinatown : The Dark Corner : Dark Passage : Deception : Deux hommes dans Manhattan : Dick Tracy’s Deception : Down Three Dark Streets : Dream House : East Side, West Side : The Little Giant : The Man Who Cheated Himself : Modern Marvels : Murder by Contract : Murder, My Sweet : My Week with Marilyn : Naked City (1) : Naked City (2) : Naked City (3) : Naked City (4) : Naked City (5) : Naked City (6) : Naked City (7) : Nightfall : Nightmare Alley : Out of the Past : Perry Mason : The Public Enemy : Railroaded! : Side Street : Stage Fright : Sweet Smell of Success : Tension : This Gun for Hire : Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

Overheard

“I have an old-fashioned stereo system. You know how you used to buy components?”

Related reading
All OCA “overheard” posts (Pinboard)
Illustration from a pamphlet accompanying a component system (c. 1983)

Thursday, January 23, 2020

The House Managers

The House Managers: it’s a great team, each member bringing an individual history and individual strengths to the moment. But I think they must have all agreed on a crucial point: “Give the ball to Adam.”


[January 23, 2020.]

“If right doesn’t matter, we’re lost. If the truth doesn’t matter, we’re lost.”

[The words that might be chopped off by the ad: “The American people deserve a president.”]

Jim Lehrer (1934–2020)

Jim Lehrer believed that news is “not a commodity.” From the New York Times obituary:

“News is information that’s required in a democratic society, and Thomas Jefferson said a democracy is dependent on an informed citizenry. That sounds corny, but I don’t care whether it sounds corny or not. It’s the truth.”
Lehrer died today at the age of eighty-five.

Related posts
Jim Lehrer’s journalistic guidelines
Jim Lehrer’s Post-it Notes

A Mongol sighting



[Tamu Blackwell, James Earl Jones, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs. Claudine (dir. John Berry, 1974). Click either image for a larger view.]

Elaine spotted it first: Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs is holding a Mongol pencil. The ferrule gives it away.

Related reading
All OCA Mongol posts (Pinboard)

Subtitle, about language

The World in Words podcast hasn’t had a new episode in ten months. But I opened my iTunes the other day to discover that a new podcast has taken its place: Subtitle. This podcast, too, is all about language. Hosted by Patrick Cox (from TWiW) and Kavita Pillay, Subtitle is smart, well-edited, and worth any listener’s time.

[Can iTunes just switch you over from one podcast to another? I do not recall adding Subtitle, or even knowing about it before it showed up in my subscriptions.]

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Steve Martin Caro (1948–2020)

Steve Martin Caro, lead singer with The Left Banke, has died at the age of seventy-one. Rolling Stone has a brief obituary.

The Left Banke’s extraordinary musical potential yielded just three LPs and a handful of non-album 45s. Here is the group’s “other” hit: “Pretty Ballerina.” The one everyone knows: “Walk Away Renée.”

Related posts
George Cameron (1947–2018)
What I hear in “Walk Away Renée”

Not milkness but phoneless

Senators: not milkless, but phoneless.

Thanks, Ben.

[Post title with apologies to Stevie Smith.]

Being 97

Herbert Fingarette, philosopher: “Much as I think our life in this world is often a pretty messy affair, I still would like to hang around.”



Being 97 is a short film by Andrew Hasse, Herbert Fingarette’s grandson.

Vocative comma, no comma

“Hey, Good Lookin’”“Hey Joe”
Hello, Dolly!“Hello Stranger”
Good Morning, Vietnam“Good Morning Starshine”
“Goodnight, Irene”Goodnight Moon
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road   Goodbye, Columbus

A related post
Stan Carey on the vocative comma

[Not only does the title Goodnight Moon have no comma. The text of the book has no commas.]

Biggie Smalls and Hamilton

I liked this moment from impeachment manager Hakeem Jeffies (D, New York-8):

“The question was asked by Mr. Sekulow as he opened before this distinguished body: ‘Why, why, why are we here?’ Let me see if I can just posit an answer to that question. We are here, sir, because President Trump pressured a foreign government to target an American citizen for political and personal gain. We are here, sir, because President Trump solicited foreign interference in the 2020 election and corrupted our democracy. We are here, sir, because President Trump withheld three hundred and ninety-one million dollars in military aid from a vulnerable Ukraine without justification, in a manner that has been deemed unlawful. We are here, sir, because President Donald Trump elevated his personal political interests and subordinated the national security interests of the United States of America. We are here, sir, because President Trump corruptly abused his power, and then he tried to cover it up. And we are here, sir, to follow the facts, apply the law, be guided by the Constitution, and present the truth to the American people. That is why we are here, Mr. Sekulow. And if you don't know, now you know.”
And now that I know the source(s) for the final sentence, I like this oration even more.

[My transcription.]

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Rostrum

The magnificent marble rostrum in the United States Senate chamber dates from 1949–1950. Watching the impeachment trial today, I thought that someone, somewhere, must be watching and thinking, “Yeah, Grandpa worked on that.”

As a tileman’s son, I think about these things.

Twelve movies

[One to four stars. Four sentences each. No spoilers.]

Claudine (dir. John Berry, 1974). Diahann Carroll and James Earl Jones star as Claudine, a domestic worker and mother of six, and Roop, a charming garbage man. Their improbable first date blossoms into a relationship that seems destined to weather all challenges. The film was marketed as a comedy, but the mood shifts frequently, with considerable room made for social woes and commentary thereupon. Shark jump: one of the characters (not Roop) gets a vasectomy. ★★★

*

The Royal Tenenbaums (dir. Wes Anderson, 2001). Having reread all of J.D. Salinger, I wanted to see this film again to look for the Salinger overtones, which I vaguely remembered were supposed to be there. And they are: in the name Tenenbaum (the married name of Glass daughter Boo Boo is Tannenbaum), in the family of wunderkinder, in the sorrows at the heart of family life, in Margot’s (Gwyneth Paltrow) fur coat, cigarettes, and bathroom retreats (shades of Franny and Zooey). But these are surface elements. The Tenenbaums in other respects are wholly themselves, fragile, dysfunctional, and at home. ★★★★

*

Danger Zone (dir. William Berke, 1951). It appears on a DVD titled Forgotten Noir — forgotten for good reason. This B-movie stars Hugh Beaumont as a fellow who runs a charter-boat business but spends more time involved in capers. Capers, plural: the movie is made of two utterly separate stories, which sound to me as if they began life as episodes of a radio serial. Fun to hear Beaumont talk like someone from a Raymond Chandler novel, and fun to see Tom Neal (of Detour) as a hood, but this film is little more than a curiosity. ★

*

The Big Chase (dir. Arthur Hilton and Robert L. Lippert Jr., 1954). Also forgotten, and not even close to noir, with a veteran cop telling the story of a rookie who chases down a criminal gang (the gang includes Lon Chaney Jr., who doesn’t speak a single line). The chase, which takes up almost twenty minutes of this hour-long movie, involves cars, boats, a helicopter, and a second director, but it’s sadly lacking in suspense. The production values at times recall Ed Wood: watch the opening scene for instant confirmation, as the veteran cop offers a cigarette to a visitor, who declines, after which the cop removes two cigarettes from a pack, lets one roll off his desk, lights the other, which is unlit in subsequent shots, and then lights his cigarette a second time. One redeeming feature: many shots of plain, unglamorous Los Angeles, wide boulevards, auto repair shops, billboards, and fences. ★

*

Vivre sa vie (dir. Jean-Luc Godard, 1962). The story made me think of Zola — a woman’s slide from store clerk to prostitute. The intertitles, separating twelve short segments, made me think of silent films and Brecht’s epic theater: we know what will happen before it does (a meta kind of determinism). The café conversation about speech and writing made me think of Brassai (the camera angle) and Derrida. Seeing Anna Karina for the first time made me think of the other times I’ve come to someone’s work only after they’re gone. ★★★★

*

Jane Wants a Boyfriend (dir. William Sullivan, 2015).
Jane (Louisa Krause), who mends and tends to costumes for a theatrical company, is a young woman on the autism spectrum. Her sister Bianca (Eliza Dushku) is an actess with the same company. Alas, this film again and again places its focus on Bianca (and her journalist boyfriend, and her friends, and her role in A MIdsummer Night’s Dream, and her cranky director), when Jane and her misadventures and adventures in dating would be the appropriate focus. Perhaps the movie should have been called Jane’s Sister Wants Equal Time. ★★★

*

Small Town Christmas (dir. Maclain Nelson, 2018). We had to watch one Hallmark Christmas movie straight (and I do mean straight) through. Here, bestselling newbie writer Nell Phillips ends her book tour in the two-bit small town that inspired her novel, a town she’s never before visited, where she reconnects with handsome former co-worker Emmett Turner, whose stories of Christmas inspired her writing and who ghosted years ago when they both lived in the big city and were supposed to go on a date. Emmett now runs the town’s bookstore (named for his late sister, Paige Turner), and he has an explanation for why he ghosted, a good one. The best name here though belongs not to a character but to an actor: Preston Vanderslice, who plays the obligatory developer out to alter a town’s way of life. ★★

*

Wuthering Heights (dir. William Wyler, 1939). The 1958 television production prompted our household to read the novel, which in turn prompted us to watch this version. I think 1958 does a better job of suggesting (if only suggesting) the novel’s larger-than-life-and-death sado-masochistic torments. As Heathcliff and Catherine, Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon are too restrained. But still, they’re Olivier and Oberon, and David Niven as Edgar Linton makes a perfect beta-male to Heathcliff’s alpha. ★★★★

*

Little Women (dir. Greta Gerwig, 2019). I came to this movie as a novice, recalling little more than Beth’s death in the 1994 version, so my judgment is unclouded by prior allegiance, unaided by prior knowledge. The acting is almost uniformly excellent, though Florence Pugh looks like a time traveler, ready to text the future at any moment. The decision to tell the story in a non-linear way baffles me, as it leaves the film, early on, with little momentum — just one vignette after another. My favorite scenes: the brief conversation about anger between Jo (Saoirse Ronan) and Marmee (Laura Dern), and the montage of Jo writing in the attic (even though her handwriting looks like something from the inspirational wall art sold at Wal-Mart). ★★★

*

The Public (dir. Emilio Estevez, 2018). Any movie about library life is a movie I’ll root for. This one has good intentions: Estevez plays a librarian who finds himself in deep sympathy with the homeless men who refuse to leave a Cincinnati library for a night outdoors in brutally low temperatures. Estevez and other cast members really look like library people. But too much is contrived or questionable here: the all-male occupying force, the absence of tobacco and substances, the near-absence of alcohol, a sub-plot with a city official’s family, and a bit of performance art that left me saying yeesh. ★★

*

Danger Signal (dir. Robert Florey, 1945). Faye Emerson is Hilda Fenchurch, a bespectacled public stenographer and typist, taking dictation and typing at the office, and then typing some more at home, where she lives with her mother. Zachary Scott is Ronnie Mason, a ne’er-do-well — or worse — writer who takes a room as a boarder in the Fenchurch house, where he ingratiates himself with Hilda, Hilda’s younger sister, and their mother. Strong echoes of Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt, but the film doesn’t fulfill its promise. What appears to be a significant plot device (a ring, as in Hitchcock) ends up forgotten, and the ending is too abrupt and improbable to satisfy. ★★★

*

Safety Last! (dir. Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor, 1923). Here’a a genius at work. Harold Lloyd is “The Boy,” a young man looking to make good in a Los Angeles department-store. His brilliant scheme: have a friend climb the building, which will bring hundreds of people to the store. Endlessly inventive comedy, on the selling floor and up in the air, with many genuine thrills. ★★★★

Related reading
All OCA film posts (Pinboard)

Unanswered questions

Those commercials for Amazon Web Services (AWS) — here’s one, and another, and another, and one more — strike me as sad. A child, filled with curiosity, asks question after question, and all the adult on duty can do is smile or ignore her or yank her along. And the only answer the commercials provide is “Amazon Web Services,” which is really no answer at all.

Monday, January 20, 2020

16,241

The Washington Post reports that Donald Trump* has made 16,241 false or misleading claims since becoming president:

In 2017, Trump made 1,999 false or misleading claims. In 2018, he added 5,689 more, for a total of 7,688. And in 2019, he made 8,155 suspect claims.

In other words, in a single year, the president said more than total number of false or misleading claims he had made in the previous two years. Put another way: He averaged six such claims a day in 2017, nearly 16 a day in 2018 and more than 22 a day in 2019.

As of Jan. 19, his 1,095th day in office, Trump had made 16,241 false or misleading claims.
A related post
MLK on the tone a president sets

MLK

Just one sentence this year:

Perhaps the most determining factor in the role of the federal government is the tone set by the Chief Executive in his words and actions.

Martin Luther King Jr., Why We Can’t Wait (1964).
King was born on January 15, 1929.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Word of the day: tranche

“A tranche of documents,” “a new tranche of documents” “a massive tranche of stunning documents”: I thought the word would be trending at Merriam-Webster. No soap.

M-W’s untrendy definition:

a division or portion of a pool or whole

specifically : an issue of bonds derived from a pooling of like obligations (such as securitized mortgage debt) that is differentiated from other issues especially by maturity or rate of return
And some background:
In French, tranche means “slice.” Cutting deeper into the word’s etymology, we find the Old French word trancer, meaning “to cut.” Tranche emerged in the English language in the late 19th century to describe financial appropriations. Today, it is often used specifically of an issue of bonds that is differentiated from other issues by such factors as maturity or rate of return. Another use of the French word tranche is in the French phrase une tranche de vie, meaning “a cross section of life.” That phrase was coined by the dramatist Jean Jullien (1854–1919), who advocated naturalism in the theater.
Just as television news often refers to history as “unfolding,” it often refers to documents (right now, those from Lev Parnas) as arriving in tranches. Use seems to beget further use, with one tranche leading to another. But’s difficult to think of this word as especially fitting or necessary. “More documents,” “a wealth of documents,” “a new group of documents,” “a massive release of documents”: any one of those phrases might serve as well.

[Notice the resemblance to trench, derived from the Anglo-French trencher, trenchier, “to cut.”]

“Sully” Sullenberger on stuttering

Chesley B. Sullenberger, responding to Lara Trump’s mockery of Joe Biden:

A speech disorder is a lot easier to treat than a character defect. You become a true leader, not because of how you speak, but because of what you have to say — and the challenges you have overcome to help others.
See also this Atlantic article about Joe Biden and stuttering.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Today’s Saturday Stumper

In the words of today’s Newsday Saturday Stumper, 2-D, six letters, “‘Yikes!’” Today’s puzzle, by Greg Johnson, might be the most challenging Stumper I’ve ever solved (one hour, one minute, and eight seconds worth of difficulty). Only sixty-six words, and by my count, just three gimmes: 5-D, four letters, “Pub pals”; 36-A, five letters, “Small ensembles”; 52-A, eight letters, “Beverage company founded in China by Germans.” And right at the center, three stepped eleven-letter clues across, and three stepped eleven-letter clues down. 2-Down!

At many points I thought I’d never get this puzzle done. For instance, when I hit 24-D, seven letters, “Carrot classification.” The only ways I classify carrots: raw and cooked. Or orange and not-orange. I love the other colors, and I think they taste different. Do they, really?

But I digress.

Question-and-answer pairs that I especially admire in today’s puzzle:

1-A, six letters, “Lose coverage.” Haha. Very funny.

18-A, six letters, “Starts to drag.” Nice misdirection.

20-A, seven letters, “Cosmo feature.” I’ve seen this feature, but never in a crossword.

34-A, eleven letters, “Hospital’s overhead helpers.” A novel answer, at least in my crossword experience.

35-A, eleven letters, “Light-sensitive circuit board coating.” Eh, wot? See 24-D.

46-A, three letters, “Brown, e.g.” I always appreciate cryptic terseness, or terse crypticness.

And above all, 14-D, eleven letters, which must be one of the all-time evil clues, “Life form.”

Never no spoilers: the answers are in the comments.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Stan Carey on the vocative comma

Editor and “swivel-chair linguist” Stan Carey explains the uses of the vocative comma: “Hello, vocative comma” (Macmillan Dictionary Blog).

After reading this column, I realized that I’ve been undermining the vocative comma for the past fifteen years. My post about how to e-mail a professor recommends beginning (in the absence of other instruction) with “Hi/Hello Professor [Blank].” No vocative comma. But as Carey’s column says, “In informal or unedited ­writing, the vocative comma is often skipped.”

I think that e-mail tends toward informality, enough so to omit the vocative comma. But not enough so to begin with, say, “Hey.”

“Good evening, news masochists”


[Cartoon of the Day, by Mort Gerberg. The New Yorker, January 16, 2020.]

I know this feeling. The problem: there isn’t a safe word.

“Some friends”

Dolly, as a ’toon, you should know how many “some” are.

Recently updated

“Close enough for jazz” Now with an added citation.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

“Days”

The latest episode of BBC Radio 4’s Soul Music is devoted to the Kinks’ “Days,” written by Ray Davies. I found it an especially difficult and moving episode. Proceed with caution.

In 2017, Soul Music devoted an episode to Davies’s “Waterloo Sunset.”

Here’s Davies in 2010 performing both songs, dedicated to the Kinks’ bassist Pete Quaife (1943–2010).

[Because this episode has a fan recounting a brother’s suicide, I’ll share some numbers. In the United Kingdom: Samaritans, 116 123. In the United States: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).]

Free Mac apps

From Macworld : thirty free Mac apps. They’re presented as a slideshow (click, click, click), but okay, they’re free. My favorites: Alfred, Simplenote, VLC.

Low Power Mode

Marco Arment makes the case for a Low Power Mode for MacBooks. Until that comes along, he recommends Turbo Boost Switcher, an app he first recommended in 2015.

I’ve been using Turbo Boost Switcher ever since reading Marco’s first recommendation. The app keeps the fans from roaring and keeps the computer from heating up. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Criminals

Watching Rachel Maddow’s interview with Lev Parnas tonight makes undeniably clear, in just sixty minutes, that Donald Trump* and company have turned the executive branch of government into a criminal organization, dedicated not to the public good but to private gain, with anyone in the way considered an enemy, to be neutralized by whatever means avail. The sinks–toilets–showers shtick and other shticks are just the cheap shiny objects that keep the marks from wondering what’s happening behind the curtain.

There’s more coming tomorrow night.

“Us”

Donald Trump*, in advance of signing his “deal” with China, acknowledging audience members Sheldon and Miriam Adelson: “They’re tremendous supporters of us and the Republican Party.” Us = me, not the country. It’s the presidential plural again. “I would like you to do us a favor though.”

A related post
“We”

[CNN and MSNBC have now cut to the House. Fox and OAN are sticking with Trump*.]

“Clock watchers”


[Nancy, April 11, 1950. Click for a larger view.]

Note to the school: If you don’t want kids to watch the clock, don’t put the clock on the side wall. Talk about poor design. And it’s still only 2:00.

Merriam-Webster has it as clock-watcher : “a person (such as a worker or student) who keeps close watch on the passage of time.” My third-grade teacher called me a clock-watcher, and I cop to the charge. If you had been a person (such as a worker or student) in her classroom, you’d have been watching the clock too.

By fourth grade I was wearing a watch (over a shirt cuff) and had no need to watch a clock. And anyway, I was paying attention to the wonderful person at the front of the room, Miss D’Elia.

Related reading
All OCA Nancy posts (Pinboard)

[Nancy past is Nancy present. All time is eternally Nancy.]

Various Sardines

MY Sardines, if it’s even real, is a cryptocurrency backed by sardines. Here is the MY Sardines homepage. Go fish.

I’ll stay here, with some other sardines, the Hot Sardines, performing a song made popular by Louis Prima and Phil Harris. Hot stuff. Thanks, Martha.

Donkey Hodie rides again

Coming to PBS, a new show inspired by Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: Donkey Hodie, with Purple Panda, Duck Duck, Bob Dog, and Donkey Hodie, the granddaughter of the original Donkey Hodie, now known as Grampy Hodie. The show will arrive in the winter of 2021.

If only PBS would bring back the Neighborhood itself, Monday through Friday, an episode a day.

Thanks, Ben.

[Duck Duck? A descendant of Audrey Duck?]

Rails to Sales

A Cooper Hewitt Object of the Day: Rails to Sales, a poster promoting subway advertising posters, by Otis Shepard and Dorothy Van Gorder. Don’t miss the links to other samples of their work: Santa Catalina, Chesterfield, Cubs, gum.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Keyboard Cleaner

Jan Lehnardt’s Keyboard Cleaner is a tiny free app for macOS that does one thing only: it locks the keyboard for easy cleaning. Open the app to lock; quit (⌘-Q) to get going again. I’m intent on keeping my MacBook Air’s keyboard from developing a greasy shine, so I wipe the keys on occasion with a spritz of distilled water on a microfiber cloth. (Don’t laugh.) Keyboard Cleaner makes this slightly obsessive task easier to manage.

The strangest synchronicity I’ve ever encountered online: yesterday I posted a photograph of a decades-old box of typewriter correction film. The random letters typed on the film visible in the photograph: ploks. I thought that would make a nicely cryptic blog description line. I typed it in. When I went to the page for Keyboard Cleaner this morning, I was startled by the URL. Look closely:

jan.prima.de/~jan/plok/archives/48-Keyboard-Cleaner.html

Jan’s explanation, on the same page: “plok — It reads like a blog, but it sounds harder!”

NYPL top ten

The New York Public Library’s top ten checkouts of all time — in other words, since 1895, when the library opened. King of the hill, top of the heap: Ezra Jack Keats’s The Snowy Day (1962). Oh how I’d like a Snowy Day library card.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Ko-Rec-Type, Part No. 3


[The secret word is ploks. 2 1/16″ × 1 3/8″ × 3/8″. Click for a larger view.]

This sort of stuff was once ubiquitous. Make a typing error, take out a little piece of correction film, hold between paper and ribbon, hit the offending key, and the mistake is gone. The result: a neater and more discreet fix than what could be had with correction fluid, aka Liquid Paper, aka Wite-Out.

I’ve had this little box of Executive Ko-Rec-Type Typewriter Correction Film for many years — probably from the early 1980s, when I was a graduate student banging out papers on an Olympia manual typewriter. I like the matchbox-like design (“one strike is all it takes”) and the strange contrasts: fancy script over stencilled letters, secretarial pink clashing with the word Executive. (Is this film reserved for executive secretaries?) I like the (unnecessary, to my mind) “Part No. 3,” which names a product that isn’t part of anything larger than itself. I like the spelling of Ko-Rec-Type, perhaps a joke on the mistakes the film was meant to hide, or perhaps just a space-age spelling. I really, really like the arcana on the side of the box: “To correct colored originals ask your dealer for Part No. 1-ES.” A more complicated part!

The box bottom has a bonus in the form of an adhesive strip:

Peel off protective covering
Attach to typewriter or any surface
I guess then you would really be in the executive lane.

I have a second, less interesting container about half full of Ko-Rec-Type Opaquing Film, which appears to be Typewriter Correction Film with a newer name. This container, from which films slide out like sticks of gum, has an address for the Ko-Rec-Type Corp.: 67 Kent Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211. Here’s a post from Forgotten New York with some photographs of the building. As of 2018, the company, founded in 1955, was still in business but looking to sell its Brooklyn properties. As of this morning, Ko-Rec-Type was still selling newer-fangled correction tape and other items on Amazon.

I would now like to imagine a scene in an office-supplies store:

“Good day, sir. Please, a box of Ko-Rec-Type’s Part No. 1-ES, with a vignette effect, if you would.”

This post is the twenty-second in a very occasional series, “From the Museum of Supplies.” Supplies is my word, and has become my family’s word, for all manner of stationery items. The museum is imaginary. The supplies are real. The vignette effect in the photograph is by the Mac app Acorn.

Other Museum of Supplies exhibits
Ace Gummed Reinforcments : 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 : Harvest Refill Leads : Illinois Central Railroad Pencil : A Mad Men sort of man, sort of : Mongol No. 2 3/8 : Moore Metalhed Tacks : A mystery supply : National’s “Fuse-Tex” Skytint : Pedigree Pencil : Pentel Quicker Clicker : Real Thin Leads : Rite-Rite Long Leads : Stanley carpenter’s rule

TV academics

From the Murder, She Wrote episode “School for Scandal” (October 25, 1985): “Professor Laird, the cucumber sandwiches are running out. Would you like me to get some more?”

And then there’s Roddy McDowall as Professor Alger Kenyon. He professes to write seven articles a year on Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

I love it when television does academia.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Strapped for time

In an effort to BMA (Be More Analog), Elaine has started wearing a watch again. Me, susceptible me, I’ve started wearing a watch again too, a Timex Expedition, purchased in the first decade of this century.

I thought it might be fun to get a new strap. One way to really know what time it is: try finding a watch strap at a friendly neighborhood multinational retailer.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Petrie opines

Ruth Martin is making barbecued spare ribs for the Grange dinner. There’ll be more than thirty people. It’s “the biggest Grange dinner of the year,” Paul Martin says. There will also be salad and baked beans. Uncle Petrie opines: “And there’s nothing better than barbecued ribs and beans on a cold winter’s day.”

I love this nonsense. It’s from the Lassie episode “The Big Cat” (January 11, 1959), the famous/infamous episode in which Lassie fetches the C-clamp. The C-clamp, Lassie, the C-clamp!

Related reading
All OCA Lassie posts (Pinboard)

Today’s Saturday Stumper

Oh, what a difficult puzzle. Oh, what a difficult grid. Today’s Newsday Saturday Stumper, by Andrew Bell Lewis, is a true Stumper. It’s deceptively easy at first: 1-A, ten letters, “Western ethics attributed to Autry.” And four obvious answers start down from that one. Other answers require retrieval from a considerable distance. In other words, they’re farfetched. Take 28-A, four letters, “Avoid capping.” Take 30-A, three letters, “Well-loved trio.” Take 48-D, four letters, “It’s swallowed by piranha.” Take these clues, please.

Some clue-and-answer pairings I especially liked:

13-D, eleven letters, “A Charlie Brown Christmas instrumental.” It’s perhaps the one tune that doesn’t spring to mind.

34-D, five letters, “#2 baby girl name in 1960, #959 in 2017.” I remember three girls from elementary school with that name.

42-D, six letters, “City that sounds like sausage.”

47-D, four letters, “Pit follower.” (BEAN? FALL? No.)

56-A, ten letters, “They have no matches.” (NONSMOKERS? No.)

No matches, and no spoilers: the answers are in the comments.

Friday, January 10, 2020

A name from Nancy

If anyone doubts that the comic strip Nancy is, as they say, having a moment: in the January 20 New Yorker crossword, the clue for 1-D, five letters, is “Rich boy in Nancy.” That would be ROLLO.

Go Bushmiller! Go Jaimes!

Related reading
All OCA Nancy posts (Pinboard)

“The irony is almost too obvious”

David Kurtz, commenting on a Wall Street Journal report that Donald Trump* “told associates he was under pressure to deal with Gen. Soleimani from GOP senators he views as important supporters in his coming impeachment trial”:

The irony is almost too obvious to point out: In order to stave off an impeachment conviction for putting his own personal interests above the national interest, Trump once again put his own interests above the national interest.

$200,000

News not to be overlooked:

Bestselling authors Stephen King and Don Winslow have pledged to give $200,000 to charity if Donald Trump’s press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, holds a press conference this week.
Grisham has refused.

“Irish Haiku”



Sounds Irish to me. Or maybe like Gertrude Stein. No, Irish, I’m sure.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Hop, skip, jump

I’m watching a bit of Donald Trump*’s rally in Toledo, Ohio on C-SPAN 2. Trump* just moved from the size of Adam Schiff’s neck to the Academy Awards to journalists (a lot of bad ones) to the fact that he won’t be getting a Nobel Peace Prize, even though he saved a country. (What?) Hopping, skipping, and jumping around.

And now he’s declared that he’s going to use both Make America Great Again and Keep America Great as slogans in his reelection campaign. Gotta have an extraordinary mind to figure that out.



And now, bragging that Republican voters prefer him to Abraham Lincoln.



“A couple of hundred years ago there was nobody here.”

TUMS

In the “I was today years old when I learned/realized” department:

A clue in today’s Los Angeles Times/Washington Post crossword taught me something. 44-A, four letters, “Tablet named for an organ.” Answer: TUMS. They’re named for the tummy!

TUMS, by the way, is both singular and plural. Here, have a TUMS. Or two. They’re small. GlaxoSmithKline styles the product name in caps, so that it’s tailor-made for a crossword.

I am slightly amazed to have never before understood the “named for an organ” bit. Obviously, I am woefully inattentive to brand names. See also Men’s Wearhouse.

In the Dark Ages

Plus ça change:

Have you ever heard people talking about the Dark Ages? This is the name given to the period which followed the collapse of the Roman Empire when very few people could read or write and hardly anyone knew what was going on in the world. And because of this, they loved telling each other all sorts of weird and wonderful tales and were generally very superstitious.

E.H. Gombrich, A Little History of the World, trans. Caroline Mustill (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008).
Gombrich’s book was first published in 1936 as Eine furze Weltgeschichte für jungle Leser [A short world history for young readers]. I wish this work had been around in translation when I was ten or twelve. Reading about the Dark Ages today, I cannot help thinking of the lunatic conspiracy theories that now fill our bandwidth.

A Post-it dad joke

A dad joke on a Post-it Note, by Doug Savage, creator of Savage Chickens, a comic strip whose acquaintance I am happy to have made.

Thanks, Steven.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Phallocentrism and sniffs

“U.S. armed forces are stronger [sniff ] than ever before [sniff ]. Our missiles are big, powerful, accurate, lethal, and fast [sniff ].”

You can hear these sniffs — just three of many — starting at the 9:00 mark. There continues to be considerable speculation about what makes Donald Trump* sniff. The sniffing seems most pronounced when he’s reading from a teleprompter [sniff ].

Seashore keeps improving

Seashore, an excellent free image-editor for macOS, continues to see updates by Robert Engels, who has taken over development from Mark Pazolli et al. Engels has added — “after many requests” — the option to donate to the project (available from the Help menu). Having used Seashore for at least nine years, I’m happy to donate.

ICYMI


It’s not as if this tweet has been overlooked. Still, I wanted to share it. There’s also this interesting clip about reelection strategies.

Donald Trump* is unfit for office. He has always been unfit for office. It’s long past time for those in a position to do something about that to do so.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

No words

CNN just reported that Donald Trump* will not be addressing the nation tonight in the wake of Iranian missile strikes against Iraqi bases housing United States troops.

[This post explains the asterisk.]

Becoming a better learner

A helpful conversation from WGBH’s Innovation Hub: Kara Miller interviews Ulrich Boser about becoming a better learner. Ixnay to highlighting!

A catalog saved

The Washington Post reports on an all-volunteer effort to save the contents of the card catalog at the University of Virginia’s Alderman Library.

A related post
The Card Catalog (with links to more reading and a catalog-card generator)

Mystery actor


[Click for a larger view.]

Who can it be now? This one would baffle me, so I’m guessing it’ll be easy for someone else. Let’s see.

Leave your best guess in the comments. I’ll drop a hint if necessary.

*

10:08 a.m.: The answer is now in the comments.

More mystery actors (Collect them all!)
? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ? : ?

Some madeleines


[“À la recherche du temps Sluggo.” Zippy, January 7, 2020.]

In today’s Zippy, Zippy is out for a walk when he happens upon three rocks. He thinks he might be in the wrong comic strip. And thus this final panel. I think of the rocks in today’s strip as madeleines, recalling comics past.

Related reading
All OCA Nancy, Nancy and Zippy, and Nancy posts
All OCA Proust posts (Pinboard)

Monday, January 6, 2020

Another circuit

I learned at lunch that years ago, a friend played in a rock band that traveled the upper midwest: Minnesota, Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula. I suggested that he must have been playing the Hotdish Circuit.

[Cf. the Chitlin’ Circuit.]

How to improve writing (no. 86)

Here’s a sentence brought me up short. From The New Yorker, December 23, 2019, page 69:

Buttigieg can give a thoughtful answer to almost any question, but he rarely tells a joke or heartfelt accounts of the people he meets on the trail.
Do you see the problem? You can tell a joke, but you cannot tell an account. Well, you can if you really want to, but you’d be writing decidely unidiomatic English. “He told a joke and heartfelt accounts”: yikes. From 1800 to 2018, Google’s Ngram Viewer shows no results for tell an account or told an account.

So — make sure that verbs and their objects go together:
Buttigieg can give a thoughtful answer to almost any question, but he rarely tells a joke or shares heartfelt accounts of the people he meets on the trail.
I’d tweak a little more:
Buttigieg can give a thoughtful answer to almost any question, but he rarely tells a joke or shares a heartfelt story about someone he’s met on the trail.
I’ll leave the extra changes to speak for themselves.

Related reading
All OCA “how to improve writing” posts (Pinboard)

[The sentence has the same problem in the online version of the article. This post is no. 86 in a series, dedicated to improving stray bits of public prose.]

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Now would have been the time

It was Friday when I learned that “I was today years old when I learned/realized” is a meme. Thank you, Rachel.

And it was today when I realized that the name of the MSNBC show Kasie DC is a play on “K-C-D-C.”

If I were likely to take up memes, now would have been the perfect time to do so.

*

What I didn’t realize until two days after making this post: Kasie DC is a play on AC/DC.

Twitter Terms of Service

Do Twitter’s Terms of Service permit the threat of military attack? Do they permit the threat of war crimes? Because the destruction of historic cultural sites has been prosecuted as a war crime.

The Archive of Contemporary Music

“It is one of the world’s largest collections of popular music, with more than three million recordings, as well as music books, vintage memorabilia and press kits”: The New York Times reports that Tribeca’s high rents mean that the Archive of Contemporary Music must find a new home. A resource of this depth must have a home.

The Archive’s website is a browser’s delight. For instance, the catalogs-in-progress. For instance, almost Beatles. For instance, Keith Richards’s blues LPs.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Today’s Saturday Stumper

Today’s Newsday Saturday Stumper is by Anna Stiga — that is, Stan Again, or crossword editor Stan Newman working under one of the pen names he uses with easier Stumpers of his making. This Stumper was pretty do-able, though a nest of small words near the puzzle’s center made things difficult for me: 23-D, five letters, “Gang members.” 26-A, three letters, “What 7 may be used instead of.” 26-D, four letters, “Daisy Duck niece.” 32-A, four letters, “Fell.” Wha?

Some clues of interest:

17-A, ten letters, “Old name for the giraffe.” I know the word from Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, but I thought it hailed from the world of cryptids.

30-A, seven letters, “Popular bar since the ’20s.” I have never partaken. Have you?

30-D, five letters, “Ersatz duck calls.” An insult!

34-D, seven letters, “Introducer of ‘Trouble’ (1957).” The board game? No, that would be six letters, in 1965 (KOHNER). I had to DuckDuckGo to make sense of the answer.

43-D, six letters, “Walk.” Kinda dowdy.

44-A, nine letters, “Neon sign seen in Looney Tunes.” I thought of A Mighty Wind.

No spoilers: the answers, not in neon, are in the comments.

Trump* and lies

The Washington Post reports that Donald Trump* has made more than 15,000 “false or misleading claims” while in office.

So when Trump* says that Qassim Suleimani “was planning a very major attack,” there is no reason to believe what he says.

Nor is there reason to think that targeting one man would prevent that attack.

[This post explains the asterisk.]

Friday, January 3, 2020

Close enough for tarantellas

A musician is a musician is a musician. Here’s a wonderful example of musical versatility, with Robert Johnson and Johnny Shines in New York and New Jersey:

Playing popular tunes, as well as anything else requested by the crowds, added to their popularity and marketability. And if they didn’t know a particular song they just played the correct tempo for dancing. Shines commented that for waltzes “you could play anything just so long as you played it in cut-time, 3/4 time. You could make up your numbers; you just had to set the right tempo.” This ability to fake their way through any genre provided varied opportunities. While in New York City they were asked to return to Newark to perform at an Italian wedding. As Shines noted, they already knew polkas and Jewish music, and for the wedding they played primarily tarantellas, adapting some of their own songs, a few standards, and some new ones to conform to the traditional 6/8 tarantella rhythm.

Bruce Conforth and Gayle Dean Wardlow, Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson (Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2019).
Up Jumped the Devil documents a life (not legend) in remarkable detail, even down to the recollections of one of Johnson’s teenage companions in fishing. My only complaint: I’d like more about the music. But that would have to be a different book.

Related posts
A New York Times obituary for Johnson : On slowing down Johnson’s recordings

[The post title is after Jonathan Turley’s witless remark about what’s “close enough for jazz.”]

State employees

In forty states, a basketball or football coach at a public university is the highest-paid public employee (ESPN).

I recall the first of my ten modest proposals to improve higher education:

Goodbye to Big Sports. The NBA and NFL can subsidize their own farm systems. Convert the money that supported Big Sports into increased adjunct pay, new tenure-track positions, increased academic support services, and need-based scholarships. Current players retain their scholarships.
A related post
Income disparity in higher ed

Thursday, January 2, 2020

A school of somes


[Nancy, March 29, 1950. Click for a larger view.]

Today’s yesterday’s Nancy is a some-fest. Let ’s look:

First panel: some rocks, some more rocks, some trees.

Second panel: some fence posts.

Third panel: some tires, some trailer windows, some curved lines (above the mop).

The strip itself: some Nancys in some panels.

What is the collective name for somes? It’s school, which I just made up. Here is another school of somes, this one found in east-central Illinois.

Related reading
All OCA Nancy posts (Pinboard)

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

Don Larsen (1929–2020)

“Larsen often said that a day didn’t go by when he did not think about his feat, and he drove a car with the license plate DL000, for his initials and the box score reading no runs, no hits and no errors”: from the New York Times obituary. I’ve known Don Larsen’s name since boyhood.

[Note to self: I have to get used to typing 2020.]

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Holiday wars

Have you noticed that people are saying “Happy New Year” again?

The days of my PDF

Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives, and of my PDF. Available via Dropbox, it’s a calendar for 2020, three months per page, all Gill Sans, with markings for New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, Saint Patrick’s Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Highly readable, even across a room. Maybe two rooms if they’re small.

[Just a second post to share this calendar. If not now, when?]