Monday, October 2, 2023

Mary Miller and the four seasons

Mary Miller (R, IL-15), my representative in Congress, is not the sharpest knife in the block. Here is what Miller said on the House floor a few days ago:

“The farmers in my district recognize climate change as summer, winter, spring, and fall.”
The context: her effort to defund USDA Climate Hubs. Pete Buttigieg’s comment on Miller’s comment: “Are we really doing this?”

C-SPAN says that Miller was making a joke. Not so. I think she was reading a line that was meant to sound smart and sassy, but she wasn’t joking. She doesn’t recognize climate change as a reality. Her lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters: 2%.

Mary, goddammit, you’re willfully ignorant. And you make the 754,000+ residents of your massive, gerrymandered district look ignorant too. Only some of us are.

Related reading
All OCA Mary Miller posts (Pinboard)
[The transcription is accurate: Miller had the seasons out of order.]

Wishbone ?

Variety reported in 2020 that a Wishbone movie was in development. And in 2023 IMDb has it still in development.

You may remember Wishbone as a late-’90s PBS series for kids (of all ages ). The premise: a situation in the world of Joe Talbot’s family and friends reminds Joe’s dog Wishbone, a Jack Russell Terrier, of a situation in a work of literature. Each episode shuttles between the Joe world and the work of lit, with Wishbone as protagonist or major character therein. My favorite: “Home Sweet Homer,” with Wishbone as Odysseus.

Our household is a Wishbone-friendly zone, and we are hoping. Perhaps also hoping that Peter Farrelly is no longer part of the project.

A related post
Pitching Wishbone

Karikó and Weissman

From The New York Times :

Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman, who together identified a chemical tweak to messenger RNA that laid the foundation for vaccines against Covid-19 that have since been administered billions of times globally, were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine on Monday.
In 2021 I linked to a Times profile of Dr. Karikó (then spelled without an accent) in 2021 and quoted this passage:
By all accounts intense and single-minded, Dr. Kariko lives for “the bench” — the spot in the lab where she works. She cares little for fame. “The bench is there, the science is good,” she shrugged in a recent interview. “Who cares?”
And yes, I thought she’d be sharing a Nobel Prize.

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Sunday, October 1, 2023

“Leaning a little to the left”

    How funny you are today New York
    like Ginger Rogers in Swingtime
    and St. Bridget’s steeple leaning a little to the left

        Frank O’Hara, “Steps”

[St. Brigid’s Roman Catholic Church, 119 Avenue B, Manhattan, c. 1939–1941. From the NYC Municipal Archives Collections. Click for a much larger view.]

The poet Bill Berkson, quoted in Brad Gooch’s City Poet: The Life and Times of Frank O’Hara (1993):

“In 1961 Frank O’Hara and I were walking along First Avenue and noticed the funny steeples of Saint Bridget’s church on Tompkins Square Park in the distance — one steeple curved limply. We were delighted by the sight.”
It’s difficult to see a limp or leaning steeple in this photograph. It may be that by 1961 the lean was more pronounced. But in another old photograph, the northern (right) steeple appears to be leaning to the right. If you were walking on First Avenue, that steeple would be leaning to the left.

In an undated illustration from the church website, both steeples appear to tilt:

[Click for a larger view.]

If you straighten the drawing a bit, the northern steeple still leans.

O’Hara and Berkson wrote a number of St. Bridget poems together between 1960 and 1962, published by Adventures in Poetry in 1974 as Hymns of St. Bridget (mimeo, side-stapled, 20 pp., approx. 750 copies). A sample, from “St. Bridget’s Neighborhood”:
Her shoe fits today    It is Saint Bridget
turning the corner     She wears blue maybelline

on her eyelids and in a streak on her hair
She will never have a baby, thank goodness!
In 2001, Owl Press published the poems with previously unpublished O’Hara-Berkson works as Hymns of St. Bridget and Other Writings.

Brigid was the patronness saint of Ireland, a consecrated virgin and, as Wikipedia puts it, “patronness of many things” — including poetry. Pre-O’Hara-Berkson hymns give accounts of her life.

The church on Avenue B, now Sts. Brigid and Emeric, has had a long history of destruction and renewal. The church website notes that the steeples were removed in 1962 “due to maintenance and safety concerns.”

Related reading
More photographs from the NYC Municipal Archives (Pinboard)

[“Steps”: from Frank O’Hara’s Lunch Poems (1964).]

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Today’s Saturday Stumper

Today’s Newsday  Saturday Stumper is by the puzzle’s editor Stan Newman, constructing as Lester Ruff — in other words, it’s meant to be an easy Stumper. I think it is an easy one, though at times it felt 16-A, six letters, “Nowhere near clear.”

Some clue-and-answer pairs of note:

3-D, eight letters, “Don’t keep up.” Just surprising to see this verb.

14-D, six letters, “Car named to evoke safety.” I never thought of it that way.

22-A, nine letters, “Cable viewed by an audience.” See 16-A.

28-A, ten letters, “Imperious portmanteau.” Run!

33-A, three letters, “Poet with a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.” Easy, but I chose this clue because I didn’t know that St. Louis has a Walk of Fame, much less that poets are eligible. Is WSB in there?

34-A, seven letters, “Query after a holdup.” Pleasant ambiguity.

37-D, eight letters, “Got paid back for.” Such an awkward verb.

47-A, five letters, “Hawkeye’s pal.” I am never cottoning to this fictional world.

55-D, three letters, “2022 Emmy winner for a Beatles docuseries.” The changes in how the name has been clued are noteworthy.

My favorite in this puzzle: 30-D, four letters, “Puzzle pieces.”

No spoilers; the answers are in the comments.


[Drawing by me. Click for a larger view.]

Elaine and I were married thirty-nine years ago today. That’s a lot of years. It hardly seems possible.

Happy anniversary, Elaine.

[I made this drawing with an Apple Pencil and and iPad months ago. I’m not sure why. Now I guess I know why.]

Friday, September 29, 2023

Computers and butterflies

Italo Calvino, from “The Tale of the Forest’s Revenge,” in The Castle of Crossed Destinies, trans. William Weaver (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1979).

The Decameron-like premise for this work: a group of travelers who have lost the ability to speak tell their stories by means of the tarot deck. The passage above is the narrator’s interpretation of The Moon.

Related reading
Four passages from If on a winter’s night a traveler

Hallmark censors Frasier

As our household makes its way through Frasier, we listen closely for the missing words. The Hallmark Channel bleeps ass, balls, bastard, bitch, and butt. Buncha prigs! Yet the overtly bawdy often stands, as when Niles Crane reports a typo in the advertisement he placed for his Jungian practice. From “Love Bites Dog,” (September 24, 1996):

Niles Crane. Hung specialist. Servicing individuals, couples, groups. Satisfaction guaranteed. Tell me where it hurts.
You can watch the scene at YouTube.

The most awkward excision thus far, from “High Crane Drifter” (12th March 1996), Niles speaking:
“Oh, for God’s sake, Frasier, don’t waste your breath on this hairy, knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing troglodyte who’s probably the only male in existence who suffers from envy.”
Hallmark apparently cuts scenes as well. See this Reddit thread: Damn you, Hallmark channel! And if it doesn’t go without saying, everything is a tad speeded up to make more room for commercials.

A related post
Hallmark is a bleep

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Recently updated

Emporia, firing Enrollment at Emporia State University drops sharply. It appears that students aren’t keen on attending a school whose administration engages in the wholesale firing of faculty.

Sardines in the news

From Christie’s, a Picasso ceramic, now sold: Trois sardines.

In The New York Times, “How TikTok Fueled the Tinned Fish Trend.” With a dazzling photograph of the Times Square store The Fantastic World of the Portuguese Sardine.

Thanks to Chris at Dreamers Rise and Stephen at pencil talk for catching these items.