Friday, July 10, 2020

“What happens when they don’t?”

From Paul Murphy, a third-grade teacher, the big question about guidelines (any guidelines) for re-opening schools: “What happens when they don’t?”

Related posts
Choose your own nightmare : College, anyone? : Reluctant professors : Something is rotten in Iowa

Joyeux anniversaire, M. Proust

Marcel Proust was born on this day in 1871. Here he describes how he felt when he came to the end of a book in childhood, secretly reading late at night in bed:

One would have so much liked for the book to continue or, if that was impossible, to have other facts about all these characters, to learn something of their lives now, to employ our own on things not altogether unconnected with the love they have inspired in us, whose object was now all of a sudden gone from us, not to have loved in vain, for an hour, human beings who tomorrow will be no more than a name on a forgotten page, in a book unrelated to our lives and as to whose value we were certainly mistaken since its fate here below, as we could now see and as our parents had taught us when need arose by a dismissive phrase, was not at all, as we had thought, to contain the universe and our own destiny, but to occupy a very narrow space in the lawyer’s bookcase, between the unglamorous archives of the Journal de modes illustré and La Géographie d’Eure-et-Loir.

Marcel Proust, “Days of Reading.” 1906. In Days of Reading, translated by John Sturrock (London: Penguin, 2008). This essay was originally published as “Sur la lecture” [On reading], a preface to Proust’s translation of John Ruskin’s Sesame and Lilies.
Related reading
All OCA Proust posts (Pinboard)

[This description of reading at night began with I. And now it’s shifted to one and we : Proust speaking for himself and for us. The shifts are, of course, in the French original.]


I was playing serving man: “We have rosé, chilled, and red.”

Elaine thought that I was calling rosé “children’s red.” Which is not a bad description of rosé. But call us children: we like rosé (dry, please) in the summer. Also in spring and fall. It’s like the iced tea of wines.

Related reading
All OCA misheard posts (Pinboard)

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Tammy Duckworth responds

In The New York Times, Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois) responds to attacks on her patriotism from the Trump* world. An excerpt:

It’s better for Mr. Trump to have you focused on whether an Asian-American woman is sufficiently American than to have you mourning the 130,000 Americans killed by a virus he claimed would disappear in February. It’s better for his campaign to distract Americans with whether a combat veteran is sufficiently patriotic than for people to recall that this failed commander in chief has still apparently done nothing about reports of Russia putting bounties on the heads of American troops in Afghanistan.

Mr. Trump and his team have made the political calculation that, no matter what, they can’t let Americans remember that so many of his decisions suggest that he cares more about lining his pockets and bolstering his political prospects than he does about protecting our troops or our nation.

They should know, though, that attacks from self-serving, insecure men who can’t tell the difference between true patriotism and hateful nationalism will never diminish my love for this country — or my willingness to sacrifice for it so they don’t have to. These titanium legs don’t buckle.
I think Joe Biden may have found himself a vice president.

[For anyone who doesn’t know: as an Army helicopter pilot in Iraq, Duckworth lost both legs.]

Manhattan SPA

Outside a Manhattan Trader Joe’s, every day is SPA day, as residents take amusing action against those who line up outside their building, hours early, talking on their cell phones (The New York Times). There’s an Instagram account.

[SPA: my acronym for “sparring passive-aggressively,” as when encountering shoppers who wear no masks and pay no attention to one-way aisles or social distancing. For me, shopping is now SPA day.]

An EXchange name sighting

[Pitfall (dir. Andre de Toth, 1948). Click for a larger telegram.]

Mona Stevens needs help. But has she given her real number? I can find no evidence that GRiffith was ever a Los Angeles County exchange.

I think that an exchange name in a telegram counts as a dowdy-world twofer.

More EXchange names on screen
Act of Violence : The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse : Armored Car Robbery : Baby Face : Blast of Silence : The Blue Dahlia : Blue Gardenia : Boardwalk Empire : Born Yesterday : The Brasher Doubloon : The Brothers Rico : Chinatown : Danger Zone : The Dark Corner : Dark Passage : Deception : Deux hommes dans Manhattan : Dick Tracy’s Deception : Down Three Dark Streets : Dream House : East Side, West Side : Fallen Angel : Framed : 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! : Red Light : Side Street : The Slender Thread : Stage Fright : Sweet Smell of Success : Tension : This Gun for Hire : Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

Nancy meta

[Nancy, July 9, 2020.]

Today’s Nancy turns meta in this second panel, as Aunt Fritzi begins to tell her niece “the story this tree trunk tells.” It’s worth clicking through to see the snapper. If you’re like me, or me, you’ll have to look closely to see it.

Related reading
All OCA Nancy posts (Pinboard)

[“Snapper”: Ernie Bushmiller’s name for the gag that comes in a Nancy strip’s final panel.]

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Florence Price’s “Adoration”

Augustin Hadelich at the piano, with thirty-seven other musicians, performing Florence Price’s “Adoration.” It’s a piece for organ, arranged for violin and piano by our household’s composer and arranger Elaine Fine. It’s a beautiful project. My response to these performances in this year of sorrows is beyond words.

“The usual thing”

Erich Kästner, Going to the Dogs: The Story of a Moralist. 1931. Trans. from the German by Cyrus Brooks (New York: New York Review Books, 2012).

Another NYRB rediscovery, highly recommended. The waning years of Weimar Germany: dance-halls, sex, political violence, unemployment, and a moment of crucial decision.

The Nazis were to burn Kästner’s books. A post-war work: Das doppelte Lottchen (1949), known in translation as Lottie and Lisa. It’s the basis for the 1961 movie The Parent Trap and later PT movies.

109 is the new 79

Elaine and I began our Great Pause on March 14. I’ve been keeping track of the days like so:

18 days (March) + 30 (April) + 31 (May) = 79.

And now 30 more (June) = 109. So I add the day’s date to 109. Today is day 117.

Reader, are you tracking time in this way?