Sunday, September 26, 2021

Makin’ whoop

Just wondering who thought it was a good idea to put something close to a millennial whoop in this Sensodyne commercial. That oughta get the kids’ attention!

Far more congenial than the whoop, for me: this recording of “Makin’ Whoopee” (Gus Kahn-Walter Donaldson), by Art Tatum, Lionel Hampton, and Buddy Rich (August 1, 1955). Stay with it.

[If what’s in the commercial is a pre-existing song, it’s one Shazam doesn’t recognize.]

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Today’s Saturday Stumper

Today’s Newsday  Saturday Stumper is by “Anna Stiga,” Stan Again, Stan Newman, the puzzle’s editor, using a pseudonym that signals an easier Stumper. This one was indeed easy. I hesitated with one square, where 44-A, seven letters, “Reality host with 10 Primetime Emmys” crossed the first letter of 45-D, three letters, “Alphabet-enders preceder.” I sang the alphabet song in my head — it was no help. I finally entered the letter I thought had to be right, and it was, and I couldn’t see why. And then I saw why.

Some clue-and-answer pairs I especially liked:

1-D, five letters, “Word from the Latin for ‘sweet.’” I learned something.

11-D, “Soap substitute brand.” The name brings back my adolescence. I had no idea that this product is still manufactured.

15-A, seven letters, “Have a Bath break.” Just because.

30-A, thirteen letters, “What Robert Louis Stevenson called wine.” It can be that.

35-D, six letters, “Half a Cocoon real-life couple.” I can think of only one real-life couple in Cocoon, with only one six-letter name between them. But the spelling of that name might be difficult for solvers who haven’t seen enough old movies.

38-A, three letters, “Home of the new TWA Hotel.” Spoiler links: everything old is new again.

39-D, five letters, “Dates, e.g.” Neat.

52-A, six letters, “Brewers once worked there.” I found the start of the answer cleverly misdirective.

My favorite clue in today’s puzzle: 20-D, nine letters, “It features Beetle Bailey’s sister.”

The answers are in the comments.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Recently updated

Sardines, a game Now with a little help from the OED.

Sardines, a game

From the Peppa Pig episode “Chloé’s Big Friends” (first aired November 22, 2010). Cousin Chloé’s friends Belinda Bear and Simon Squirrel don’t really want to play what they call “baby games.” They’re almost grownup! And they’ve already sneered at Hide and Seek.

Peppa: “Let’s play another game. Have you ever played Sardines?”

Belinda: “What’s that?”

Chloé: “Someone hides, and we all try to find them.”

Simon: “That sounds like Hide and Seek.”

Chloé: “But when you find them, you keep quiet and hide in the same space until everyone is hiding there.”

Peppa: “Like sardines in a tin!”

I’d never heard of it, but the Internets confirm that Sardines, the game, is a thing.


Later in the day: The Oxford English Dictionary has this definition: “A party game of hide-and-seek, in which each seeker joins the hider upon discovery until one seeker remains. Also sardines-in-the (also a)-box (U.S.).”

The dictionary’s first citation, from Mendell and Meynell’s Weekend Book, says that “Sardines is gaudier still” and goes on to explain the game. (Gaudier than what?) The next citation is more interesting: “‘Hide-and-go-seek’ or ‘sardines-in-the-box’ with all the house thrown open to the game.” From F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (1925).

Also from Peppa Pig: Edmund Elephant is a clever clogs.

Related reading
All OCA sardine posts (Pinboard)

Two skies

Clifford B. Hicks, Alvin’s Secret Code (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1963).

The scudded in that passage has stuck in my head since I first read Alvin’s Secret Code in childhood. Here is another scudded, which I discovered much more recently:

Robert Musil, Young Törless. 1906. Trans. from the German by Mike Mitchell (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014).

Alas, the similarities between the two works end there.

[Are clouds the only things that scud? No. Thanks, Martha.]

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Candy stores

New York City Candy Stores: A Look Back: a short narrative with photographs, at YouTube.

Revery: I remember Mary’s for cap guns, comic books, and water pistols. There was also at least one plastic bust of a composer (Beethoven?) for sale. Picholz’s had a full-fledged soda fountain and a long display of magazines. I think we bought Coke syrup there (for school-day stomach jitters). A third Brooklyn candy store, nameless to me, was a source for charlotte russe. A fourth, also nameless, was a source for pumpkin seeds.

Here, courtesy of the New York City Municipal Archives, is Picholz’s location, 4417 New Utrecht Avenue, circa 1939–1941, then a candy store owned by L. Stoppick. His name is on the awning. A great location, right by the stairs up to the El. Notice the bakery next door offering charolotte russe: 5¢.

[Click for a much larger store.]

L. Stoppick was at this location in 1922.

[The Retail Tobacconist, February 9, 1922.]

I suspect that “fine smoke shop” was a euphemism for “candy store.”

Since at least 2012, 4417 has been home to an Ecuadorian restaurant, Sol de Quito.

[The name Picholz was spoken, never written. I was guessing, but it turns out that I guessed correctly.]

Tinta Azul

I know that one is never supposed to buy wine for the label, especially not a label with a picture of a critter. But Tinta Azul I had to buy for its label. Look: tile work. And the name means “blue ink.”

Tinta Azul is a red blend from Portugal. It has a dark, inky color. But I’d describe the taste as “wet.” It’s nearly tasteless. But the label is just fine.

[My dad was a tile man, floors and walls: Leddy Ceramic Tile.]

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

A Robert Walser biography

Susan Bernofsky, Clairvoyant of the Small: The Life of Robert Walser. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2021. viii + 378 pages. $35.

Translator and, now, biographer Susan Bernofsky’s Clairvoyant of the Small is a brilliant account of Robert Walser’s life, deeply researched, and deeply respectful of its subject, recording Walser’s idiosyncrasies and strangenesses while never reducing him to a condition or attempting a diagnosis in retrospect. The writing is full of inventive turns of phrase along the way, as when Bernofsky describes the inveterate walker Walser’s frequent shifts of residence (she counts sixty-six known addresses between 1878 and 1929) as “a slow-motion real-estate version of walking.” Here is the gist of Walser’s work in one beautiful sentence: “The marginality he celebrates is that of secretly magnificent complexities hiding in plain sight all around us under the guise of the ordinary and small.” A clairvoyant of the small indeed.

For anyone curious about reading Walser in English, I recommend The Walk, from New Directions (Susan Bernofsky’s revision of Christopher Middleton’s translation).

Related reading
All OCA Walser posts (Pinboard)

[The phrase “clairvoyant of the small” comes from Jo Catling’s English translation of W.G. Sebald’s essay about Walser, “Le Promeneur Solitaire,” in A Place in the Country (New York: Modern Library, 2013). Catling gives Sebald’s German: “ein Hellseher im Kleinen,” which borrows from Walser’s “dafür ist es ihm vergönnt gewesen, in seiner kleinen hell zu sehen,” which Catling translates as “he has been granted the gift of farsightedness in his own small world.” Catling notes that “‘Hellsehen’ (‘seeing clearly’) has in German the additional meaning of clairvoyance.”]


Pomotroid is a free Pomodoro timer by Christopher Murphy for Linux, macOS, and Windows. The app marks time with a clock-like ring, red for the Pomodoro, green for the break. On the Mac, the ring sits in the menu bar, tiny and unobtrusive. And on the Mac Pomotroid has a minor display problem that I hope will be fixed.

I still like Flow, but a ring in the menu bar is a nice alternative to watching time run down by the second.

A related post
The Pomodoro Technique Illustrated

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Naming of parts

From The New York Times: “Taking the ‘Shame Part’ Out of Female Anatomy.” The word in question: pudendum. I knew about hysteria, but not pudendum. It’s patriarchy, inscribed in the language of anatomy.