Friday, June 2, 2023

“Way up in the dangerous air”

Steven Millhauser, “Flying Carpets,” in The Knife Thrower and Other Stories (1998).

Related reading
All OCA Steven Millhauser posts (Pinboard)

Whatever became of the Lisa?

Do you remember the Apple Lisa? Do you know what beacame of it? A short film from The Verge: Apple’s Secret Burial.

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Somebody Somewhere renewed

[From Bridget Everett’s Instagram.]

I’m happy to see that Somebody Somewhere has been renewed for a third season. It’s a show that deserves a much larger audience.

P.S.: It’s the anti-Succession.

A minority report on Succession

Bill Wyman (not of the Stones), writing about Succession:

From the start, this was a bad show, and a misconceived one. In a world of peak TV and oceans of post-Sopranos high-end work from around the world, this was an endeavor made by people not quite clear on the concept. There were no adults in the room. Succession was very much like what you would get if the Roy children themselves tried to do a grown-up HBO series.
I’m not enamored of this series. Wyman is far more critical than I am.

Longhand and a Smith-Corona

From Robert Caro’s Working: Research, Interviewing, Writing (New York: Knopf, 2019). Caro recalls what Princeton professor R.P. Blackmur said to him, after first saying something complimentary: “But you’re never going to achieve what you want to, Mr. Caro, if you don’t stop thinking with your fingers.”

“Thinking with your fingers.” Every so often, do you get the feeling that someone has seen right through you? In that moment, I knew Professor Blackmur had seen right through me. No real thought, just writing — because writing was so easy. Certainly never thinking anything all the way through. And writing for a daily newspaper had been so easy, too. When I decided to write a book, and, beginning to realize the complexity of the subject, realized that a lot of thinking would be required — thinking things all the way through, in fact, or as much through as I was capable of — I determined to do something to slow myself down, to not write until I had thought things through. That was why I resolved to write my first drafts in longhand, slowest of the various means of committing thoughts to paper, before I started doing later drafts on the typewriter; that is why I still do my first few drafts in longhand today; that is why, even now that typewriters have been replaced by computers, I still stick to my Smith-Corona Electra 210. And yet, even thus slowed down, I will, when I’m writing, set myself the goal of a minimum of a thousand words a day, and, as the chart I keep on my closet door attests, most days meet it.
If I were teaching a writing course, I’d show my students Turn Every Page: The Adventures of Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb (dir. Lizzie Gottlieb, 2022).

Related reading
“Robert Caro’s Favorite Things” (The Wall Street Journal ) : “Turn Every Page: Inside the Robert A. Caro Archive” (New-York Historical Society) : “Why Robert Caro Now Has Only Ten Typewriters” (The New Yorker )


From Turn Every Page: The Adventures of Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb (dir. Lizzie Gottlieb, 2022). Robert Gottlieb speaking:

“Editing is intelligent and sympathetic reaction to the text and to what the author is trying to accomplish.”
“Making things better, saving things, is the editorial impulse.”
And I like what Bryan Garner says:
“Editing is an act of friendship. A good editor is making you look smarter than you actually are — smarter and better.”
Also from this movie
Taped to the lamp

Taped to the lamp

From Turn Every Page: The Adventures of Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb (dir. Lizzie Gottlieb, 2022). Robert Caro speaking:

“How do you make the reader feel how desperate a man is, not just read it, but feel it, but see it, and feel it himself, feel this desperation of Lyndon Johnson himself? And right on an index card and Scotch-taped to the lamp in front of me: ‘Is there desperation on this page?’ And I can't tell ya how many days that card stays up there.”
In the documentary, there’s a different card taped to the lamp.

[“The only thing that matters is what is on this page.” Click for a larger view.]

Also from this movie
Robert Gottlieb on editing

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

F.S. Royster Guano Co. notebook

[An antiques-mall find ($2.00). 5¼″ × 3″. Click for a larger view.]

According to a 2019 newspaper article, the F.S. Royster Guano Company began in 1885 in Tarboro, North Carolina. This notebook gives Norfolk, Virgina, as the main office, with sixteen other plants and offices in the south and midwest.

Inside this book, useful information — brief explanations of what different plant foods do, guidelines for measuring grain and lumber, a recipe for house paint (lead and zinc), 1943 and 1944 calendars on the inside covers. And thirty-two pages for writing, each with seventeen lines below a heading, a different heading on each page. For instance,

        With ROYSTER’S Under Your Crop
                a Load is Off Your Mind.
I’m not sure if that’s meant to be funny. If it is meant so, it’s the only such heading that is.

As you may know, agricultural notebooks are a primary inspiration for the contemporary Field Notes Brand.

Pocket notebook sighting

[Dayton Lummis as Dr. Carl Morris. From The Flight That Disappeared (dir. Reginald Le Borg, 1961). Click for a larger view.]

If you knew what was on that notebook page, you too would tear it out and tear it up — I hope.

More notebook sightings
All the King’s Men : Angels with Dirty Faces : The Bad and the Beautiful : Ball of Fire : The Big Clock : Bombshell : The Brasher Doubloon : The Case of the Howling Dog : Cat People : Caught : City Girl : Crossing Delancey : Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne : Dead End : Deep Valley : The Devil and Miss Jones : Dragnet : Extras : Eyes in the Night : The Face Behind the Mask : The Fearmakers : A Foreign Affair : Foreign Correspondent : Fury : The Girl in Black Stockings : Homicide : The Honeymooners : The House on 92nd Street : I See a Dark Stranger : If I Had a Million : Journal d’un curé de campagne : Kid Glove Killer : The Last Laugh : Le Million : The Lodger : Lost Horizon : M : Ministry of Fear : Mr. Holmes : Murder at the Vanities : Murder by Contract : Murder, Inc. : The Mystery of the Wax Museum : Naked City : The Naked Edge : Now, Voyager : The Palm Beach Story : Perry Mason : Pickpocket : Pickup on South Street : Pushover : Quai des Orfèvres : The Racket : Railroaded! : Red-Headed Woman : Rififi : La roue : Route 66The Scarlet Claw : Sleeping Car to Trieste : The Small Back Room : The Sopranos : Spellbound : Stage Fright : State Fair : A Stranger in Town : Stranger Things : Sweet Smell of Success : Time Table : T-Men : To the Ends of the Earth : 20th Century Women : Union Station : Vice Squad : Walk East on Beacon! : What Happened Was . . . : Where the Sidewalk Ends : The Woman in the Window : You Only Live Once : Young and Innocent

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

From 1945 and 1943

From today’s installment of Heather Cox Richardson’s Letters from an American:

Beginning in 1943, the War Department published a series of pamphlets for U.S. Army personnel in the European theater of World War II. Titled Army Talks, the series was designed “to help [the personnel] become better-informed men and women and therefore better soldiers.”

On March 24, 1945, the topic for the week was “FASCISM!”
The fascist playbook, as described in this pamphlet, repeats as the playbook of today’s hard right: cast one’s cause as “super-Americanism,” foment domestic disunity and hatred of minorities, reject the need for international cooperation, and label one’s opponents communists.

You can read the pamphlet at the Internet Archive.

And from 1943, there’s the anti-fascist short film Don’t Be a Sucker.