Saturday, November 30, 2013

Dropbox referral, anyone?

From the website:

Dropbox is a free service that lets you bring all your photos, docs, and videos anywhere. This means that any file you save to your Dropbox will automatically save to all your computers, phones and even the Dropbox website.
Dropbox works with Linux, Mac, Windows, and mobile devices. It’s changed my ways of working: I no longer need to send myself attachments or carry a flash drive to have access to my stuff from a classroom or office computer. The stuff is just there.

If you’d like to try Dropbox, here is a referral link that will give you and me each an extra 500 MB of free storage.

TextExpander discount

Mac users: if you’d like to purchase the great app TextExpander, it’s on sale for $17.47 (list $34.95), through Monday. Follow this link, which SmileOnMyMac has made available to TextExpander users for the sharing.

TextExpander is a tremendously useful app, well worth its price. The app turns snippets — little bits of text — into longer items of the user’s choice. I use TextExpander for URLs, HTML, and frequently typed words and phrases. The snippet ,syic, for instance, turns into

See you in class,

Prof. Leddy
This page and this one offer more detailed explanations. And by the way, all I had to do to create those links was to type ,paste, and TextExpander wrote out the HTML and pasted in the URLs from the figurative clipboard.

Since June 2012, expanding 16,209 snippets has saved me 223,082 characters and 12.39 hours of typing time. Yes, the app keeps track.

[Nothing accrues to me for passing on this info. I’m just an enthusiast.]

Jane Kean (1923–2013)

The actress and singer Jane Kean has died at the age of ninety. She played Trixie Norton in The Jackie Gleason Show revival of The Honeymooners. The New York Times has an obituary.

One detail that the Times omits: Jane Kean was the voice of Belle in Mister Magoo’s Christmas Carol. Which might not sound like much, but it means that Kean sang the Bob Merrill and Jule Styne song “Winter Was Warm.”

In 2007, Joyce Randolph, the original Trixie Norton, was the subject of a lovely Times article.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Found in my mother’s kitchen

“I got tired of trying to find the end all the time”: masking-tape hack by Louise Leddy. That’s part of a toothpick at the tape’s end. I’ve pulled the tape away to show the workings.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving 1913

[“No Hungry Ones on Thanksgiving Day: Turkey Served in Prisons, Missions, Hospitals, and Lowly Tenements. Zelaya Dined in Tombs. Alimony Club Feasted in Jail, but the Down-and-Outs Fared as Well.” The New York Times, November 28, 1913.]

My 2012 Thanksgiving post also dropped in at the Ludlow Street Jail. Ephemeral New York has the dope on the Alimony Club.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Previous Thanksgiving posts
A found letter : A 1917 greeting card : Competitive eating, 1911 : Sing Sing, 1908 : Sing Sing, 1907

[Zelaya? See this article.]

A Thanksgiving essay

“The worst Thanksgiving I had came two days after they sliced me open, belly to pubic line, and the surgeon, coming to see me in recovery said, ‘We got most of it’”: Joyce Wadler, writing in The New York Times about a holiday, an illness, and mortality. No expiration date, but this essay is best read today: Bad Thanksgiving.

A joke from my dad

How did Samuel Clemens do all his long-distance traveling?

I think you already know the answer.

A related post
A joke for the day

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Paterfamilias repurposing

My dad too likes to repurpose household items as “supplies.” These paper-clip cups once capped shaving-cream cans.

My dad continues on the mend. Please send good vibrations his way.

Orange Crate Art repurposings
Bakeware : Box flap : Dish drainer : Doorstop : Tea tin

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Progress, slow, and more of it

About yesterday’s post: my dad Jim is in the hospital. After many difficult days, he is making slow progress, and more of it every day. Please send good vibrations his way. Thanks.

My dad’s most recent Orange Crate Art appearance took the form of a seasonally-themed joke. There are many other appearances. Just search for dad or James Leddy or Jim.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Making Slow Progress

Many things to work on. Key word: Progress. Adjective: Slow.

Postcard available from Hold the Mustard Photo Cards.

Friday, November 22, 2013

November 22, 1963

[Photograph by Art Rickerby. From the Life Photo Archive.]

I remember being let out of school early (second grade). I remember standing in the doorway between my brother’s bedroom and mine and being aware that everything was now sad in a way that was beyond any previous sadness. And I remember seeing Lee Harvey Oswald shot on television — that is what’s most vivid. What do you remember?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Margaret Mary Vojtko story

L. V. Anderson looks into “what really happened to Margaret Mary Vojtko” and concludes that “better benefits and job security would not have altered many of the personal factors that precipitated Vojtko’s crisis.” Even so, Anderson says, the use of adjunct labor in higher education is “a scourge.”

A related post
Death of an adjunct

New directions in carpeting

Item #2013-N. “Autumn Medley.” For porch or patio. An innovation in outdoor carpeting. Miracle material renews itself as you work, play, relax. Stains and spills disappear like magic. Installs in seconds.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Tie Bar

For a long time, I wore a tie only rarely. But a year or so ago, I realized that my ties are now vintage ties. And I started wearing them on teaching days. It’s fun, and now when I wear a shirt with an open collar, it feels like something is missing. I bought a couple of square-end knit ties at Macy’s — ridiculously expensive. I found a few more at a Goodwill — they look a little sad. And then Elaine discovered The Tie Bar. A great selection, $15 a tie, any tie, with a flat $5.99 for shipping. And many square-end ties, the ties I like best.

I’ve posted the front and back of this card not only for your information but for mine. When the card itself has vanished and a tie has broken out in spots, these instructions will be here.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

From The Onion? No, The Times.

Marie Myung-Ok’s New York Times column The Internet: A Welcome Distraction has at least one Onion-worthy sentence:

I have come to realize that my writing brain has been waiting for something exactly like today’s dizzyingly overfull, warp-speed Internet.
But she’s not writing a parody. The sentence that really got me thinking though is this one:
Jonathan Franzen found the Internet such a threat that he disabled it by plugging an Ethernet cable into his computer with super glue.
Damn that Franzen. He must be using one powerful computer.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Hi and Lois watch

[Hi and Lois, November 18, 2013.]

Escher-like constructions have appeared in Hi and Lois before:
an impossible hot-dog cart, an all-in-one wall. My best explanation for the wall in this panel (other than Escher or “sloppy”): the Flagstons are part of a museum installation. That’s not an exterior wall behind Hi: it’s a gallery wall with trompe l’oeil curtains and window.

Related posts
All Hi and Lois posts (Pinboard)

It is weather

The storms that passed through Illinois and other states yesterday left my environs almost untouched. We had a brief interval of heavy rain and strong wind in the early afternoon. And then the sun came out, though the wind continued for several hours. Other cities and towns were not nearly as fortunate.

When I think about weather, I think of lines from Philip Larkin’s poem “Talking in Bed”:

Outside, the wind’s incomplete unrest
Builds and disperses clouds about the sky,

And dark towns heap up on the horizon.
None of this cares for us.
The weather is not destructive or unforgiving or violent. It doesn’t care about us. It just is.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

William Weaver (1923–2013)

He was a translator and an FOFOH (friend of Frank O’Hara). The New York Times has an obituary. More about Weaver and FOH in a Paris Review interview, The Art of Translation.

A related post
791 Broadway (Weaver remembering FOH)

Friday, November 15, 2013

New directions in multitasking

All together now: smoking, texting, skateboarding.

The Polaroid Swinger

Cooper-Hewitt’s Object of the Day: the Polaroid Swinger, designed by Henry Dreyfuss. YouTube has two of the teenage-pastoral commercials. Yes, that’s Ali MacGraw.

High-school student Ethan Young on the Common Core

Ethan Young, a senior at Farragut High School in Knoxville, Tennessee, speaks to his local school board about the Common Core. An excerpt:

The task of learning is never quantifiable. If everything I learned in high school is a measurable objective, I haven’t learned anything. I’d like to repeat that. If everything I learned in high school is a measurable objective, I have not learned anything. Creativity, appreciation, inquisitiveness: these are impossible to scale. But they’re the purpose of education, why our teachers teach, why I choose to learn.
That Young is now the toast of the right-wing Internets is of no concern to me: his perspective here is one that I agree with. I find the Obama adminstration’s efforts in education a great disappointment.

Related posts
Arne Duncan on Colbert
”Warnings from the Trenches”

Telephone exchange names on screen: SUsquehannah

[From the Naked City episode “SUsquehanna 4-7568,” December 16, 1958. Click for a larger view.]

SUsquehannah does not appear on Bell Telephone’s 1955 list of recommended exchange names. But the Telephone EXchange Name Project lists it as a Manhattan exchange, serving the Upper West Side. Ephemeral New York has a photograph of a sign with an SU number.

“SUsquehanna 4-7568” is a fine early Naked City episode, a variation on the “Sorry, Wrong Number” theme. Among its characters is the scariest sanitation worker you’ll ever meet.

More exchange names on screen
The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse : Baby Face : Blast of Silence : Born Yesterday : The Dark Corner : Deception : Dream House : The Little Giant : The Man Who Cheated Himself : Modern Marvels : Murder, My Sweet : My Week with Marilyn : Naked City (1) : Naked City (2) : Naked City (3) : Naked City (4) : Nightmare Alley : The Public Enemy : Railroaded! : Side Street : Sweet Smell of Success : This Gun for Hire

Domestic comedy

[Two voices, in unison, honest.]

“That sounds a little like ‘Moonlight in Vermont.’”

What sounds a little like “Moonlight in Vermont” is the theme music from the earliest episodes of the television series Naked City (dir. Jules Dassin). The complete run of Naked City, 138 episodes, is now available on DVD. Amazon has the 29-disc set for $121.16 (list $179.98). The pre-order price ended up dropping — who knows why? — from $99 to $25.48. Our household is delirious.

The biggest surprise about the early half-hour episodes of the series: the lead characters are those of the film Naked City, Lieutenant Detective Dan Muldoon and Detective Jimmy Halloran, here played by John McIntire (with artifical flavoring — that is, a brogue) and James Franciscus.

Related reading
All domestic comedy posts
All Naked City posts

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Recently updated

Hi and Lois, repurposed Now with greener spinach, and more of it.

Borges on reading

Jorge Luis Borges, against “lectura obligatoria,” obligatory reading:

Reading should be a form of happiness, so I would advise all possible readers of my last will and testament — which I do not plan to write — I would advise them to read a lot, and not to get intimidated by writers’ reputations, to continue to look for personal happiness, personal enjoyment. It is the only way to read.

From Professor Borges: A Course on English Literature, ed. Martín Arias and Martín Hadis, trans. Katherine Silver (NY: New Directions, 2013).
And the original passage, from the documentary film Borges para millones (dir. Ricardo Wullicher, 1978):
La lectura debe ser una de las formas de la felicidad, de modo que yo aconsejaría a esos posibles lectores de mi testamento — que no pienso escribir — que leyeran mucho, que no se dejaran asustar por la reputación de los autores, que sigan buscando una felicidad personal, un goce personal. Es el único modo de leer.
[Borges para millones is available at the usual place.]

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Hi and Lois, repurposed

The more I looked at today’s Hi and Lois, the less I could resist:

[Hi and Lois revised, November 13, 2013.]

After the famous Carl Rose New Yorker cartoon, caption by E. B. White.

November 14: Never satisfied. I’ve replaced the cereal in Ditto’s bowl and made everything greener.

Related reading
Other Hi and Lois posts (Pinboard)

Hi and Lois watch

[Hi and Lois. November 13, 2013. Click for a larger view.]

If my cereal looked like that, I too would throw it to the floor. My version:

[Hi and Lois corrected. Click for a larger view.]

This isn’t the first time there’s been a problem with food coloring in Hi and Lois. In 2011, the Flagstons were using black ketchup, giving rise to an Orange Crate Art caption challenge.

Related reading
Other Hi and Lois posts (Pinboard)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Word of the day: smellum

[Henry, November 12, 2013.]

I startled slightly when I saw today’s Henry. This strip is keeping it old-school indeed.

Smellum appears in neither the Oxford English Dictionary nor Webster’s Third. Nor does it appear in the one slang dictionary in my possession (the 1975 edition of the Dictionary of American Slang). I know the word from the Coen brothers’ Depression-era film O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), in which it’s spoken by pomade devotee Ulysses Everett McGill:

“As soon as we get ourselves cleaned up and we get a little smellum in our hair, why, we’re gonna feel a hundred percent better about ourselves and about life in general.”
A source from Google Books has smellum as a bit of pidgin English:

[Charles Godfrey Leland, Pidgin-English Sing-Song; or, Songs and Stories in the China-English Dialect (London: Trübner, 1876). The sample sentence means “Bring me that perfume.”]

That’s the earliest source I can find. And the scholarly databases I’ve checked have no smellum. Which stinks, I know.

Related reading
All Henry posts (Pinboard)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Digital-naïf watch

I think it remarkable that so many so-called digital natives have fallen for the fake news that BIg Bird is transgender. A few seconds with the Google is sufficient to establish that the story is a spoof. Here is the story’s source, if you’d like to see it. Among the headlines at the site: “Analysts Forecast Drop In Holiday Spending As More Families Rely On Presents From Santa Claus.”

As I wrote in a post in which I made up the term “digital naïf,” “Many so-called digital natives are in truth digital naïfs. The natives’ naïveté is considerable.” Take a look at the Twitter if you doubt me.

Related posts
Digital naïfs
Digital naïfs in the news
The F word (Find)
Digital-naïf watch

November 11, 1923

[“Wilson Overcome Greeting Pilgrims; Predicts Triumph: ‘I Have Seen Fools Resist Providence and Perish, as Will Come Again,’ He Asserts. Speaks with Difficulty Apparently Suffering Physical Pain, He Is Greatly Affected by Seeing Disabled Soldiers.” The New York Times, November 12, 1923.]

Related posts
November 11, 1918
November 11, 1919
November 11, 1920
November 11, 1921
November 11, 1922

Sunday, November 10, 2013

How to help the Philippines

How you can help Typhoon Haiyan survivors (USA Today).

Prufrock as comics

The opening pages of a comic-book version of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” by Julian Peters.

The only panel that seems off: “There will be time to murder and create” (too literal). Other than that, it’s terrific.

[Found via Boing Boing.]

Saturday, November 9, 2013

“Tap the Map!”

My son Ben wants to help you learn the fifty states. Enjoy:

[Words and music by Ben Leddy.]

Friday, November 8, 2013

Repurposed cupcake pan

From Cool Tools, a repurposed cupcake pan, now holding nuts and bolts and washers. Nifty.

I am now imagining a pan whose cups are filled with paper clips, binder clips, pushpins, and so on. I like to repurpose household items, as the links below will attest.

Orange Crate Art repurposings
Bakeware : Box flap : Dish drainer : Doorstop : Tea tin

Sixty-eight years later

Elaine and I had the opportunity last night to listen to two World War II veterans give a talk about their experiences in combat. Both fought in the Pacific. Both were at Iwo Jima, or Iwo, as they called it. One was seventeen at the time; the other, nineteen.

An audience member asked if they had difficulties after the war. None, one said, although ”Of course, you suffer some.” The other described his weekly trips to a VA support group, which he has been making for the past thirty-six years. He also showed a list of prescriptions for his war-related problems: twelve every morning, five every night. Sixty-eight years later, he still has nightmares.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Chicagoan

[The Chicagoan, December 31, 1927. Artist unidentified. Click for a larger view.]

From the University of Chicago Library:

The Chicagoan, published from 1926 to 1935 in Chicago, was explicitly modeled on the New Yorker in both its graphic design and editorial content. The magazine aimed to portray the city as a cultural hub and counter its image as a place of violence and vice. It was first issued biweekly and then, in a larger format, monthly, ceasing publication in the midst of the Depression. The magazine received little national attention during its lifetime and few copies survive. This digital collection reproduces the near-complete run in the University of Chicago Library with issues supplied from other collections where possible.
You can browse the collection here.

Thanks to Slywy for telling me about The Chicagoan. You might like reading her wonderful answer to the question “Why the pencil?”

Domestic comedy

“Good grief. This was on when we were both sentient beings.”

“I was not only sentient; I was watching.”

Related reading
All domestic comedy posts (Pinboard)

[Contemplating, with dismay, television past.]

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Goodbye, Blockbuster

From The New York Times:

Blockbuster, which had more than 9,000 retail stores across America nine short years ago, will close over the next two months the few hundred video-rental stores that it still has, the company’s owner, Dish Network, said Wednesday in a bittersweet but long-expected announcement.
There is no permanence.

Damn you, Dictation

Edifice will die a hero’s death, endowed by the gods with powers to Courson Blatz.


The thing itself, a sentence from the introduction to Sophocles’s Theban Plays, trans. Peter Meineck and Paul Woodruff (Hackett, 2003): “Oedipus will die a hero’s death, endowed by the gods with powers to curse and bless.”

Related posts
Dictation and boogie-woogie
Dictation and Derrida

[Blatz is a beer, among other things. What is it doing in Apple’s Dictation servers?]

E-mail? Email?

“Should it be “e-mail” or “email”? Bryan Garner answers.

I prefer e-mail , as in How to e-mail [not email ] a professor. But I’m no “pseudo-snoot eccentric” (Garner’s term): email, no hyphen, is just fine by me.

Sherwin and Zerbina and Bert and Harry

[“Plotz,”Zippy, November 6, 2013.]

Yes, that’s a tabletop’s worth of Ding Dongs.

New Yorkers of a certain age will recognize the fellows on the television screen as the Piel brothers, Bert and Harry, cartoon spokesbrewers for Piels Beer. Their voices were provided by Bob and Ray, Bob Elliott (Harry, on the right) and Ray Goulding.

YouTube has at least four Bert and Harry commercials: one, another one, still another, and one more. A website for collectors of the past has a piece of original art that might have served as the model for what’s on the television.

I like Bill Griffith’s approach to things. Does he worry whether people will get it? No. But someone will. Or maybe they’ll find this post.

Related reading
All Zippy posts (Pinboard)

[Susan Sontag: “To collect is by definition to collect the past.”]

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Benguiat style

Elaine and I dug the signage in this next-to-last episode of Route 66:

[From the Route 66 episode “Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way: Part 1,” March 6, 1964.]

And more recently, we dug the titles in the 1960s educational film You Be the Judge:

I was ready to issue a call to help, but I think I’ve answered my question: the designer behind this kind of lettering, though not necessarily these letters, would appear to be Ed Benguiat. The key word: interlock. House Industries’s Ed Benguiat Font Collection has an Interlock font (with nearly 1,400 ligatures) that pays homage to Benguiat’s work. Here is One minute ’til three in Ed Interlock:

I now realize that Benguiat’s interlocking letters are a trace element in Frank Holmes’s cover design for the Beach Boys’ album SMiLE. And now I’m trying to figure out where else I’ve seen interlocked lettering. Other album covers? Cereal boxes? I am in search of lost type.

Where have you seen interlocked lettering?


11:07 a.m.: There’s something similar in a poster for A Hard Day’s Night.

Related reading, sort of
All Route 66 posts (Pinboard)

[You Be the Judge, produced by Crisco, stars a young Bonnie Franklin. She and a girlfriend engage in a cook-off with a couple of goofy boys. The girls use Crisco and measure carefully, while the boys make a catastrophe of their dishes. And then the girls throw the contest. Some education. The film is available in the educational-film compilation How to Be a Woman (Kino). This DVD and the companion How to Be a Man include several films from Centron Corporation, whose employees created the great 1962 film Carnival of Souls.]

Monday, November 4, 2013

“War of the Welles”

From KPCC’s Off-Ramp: “War of the Welles,” a radio documentary about the Mercury Theatre’s 1938 adaptation of H. G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds. KPCC also has a re-broadcast of the Mercury program. Both are available as podcasts from this page.

Orange tree art

[Photograph by Michael Leddy.]

Elaine and I have been photographing our Red Sunset maple over the past few days. Its leaves turned all at once. On Saturday, we saw the orange tones you see here. Today there’s much more red. Last year, storms and wind removed this tree’s leaves almost all at once. If that happens this year, we’ll have a keepsake. Which I realize is not keeping with the transience of fall’s beauty but what the heck.

Other posts with orange
Crate art, orange : Orange art, no crate : Orange car art : Orange crate art : Orange crate art (Encyclopedia Brown) : Orange flag art : Orange manual art : Orange mug art : Orange newspaper art : Orange notebook art : Orange notecard art : Orange peel art : Orange pencil art : Orange soda art : Orange stem art : Orange telephone art : Orange timer art : Orange toothbrush art : Orange train art : Orange tree art : Orange Tweed art

John Lennon on love

“Love means having to say you’re sorry every five minutes”: John Lennon, on The Dick Cavett Show (September 11, 1971).

Other Cavett Show posts
John Huston on James Agee
Marlon Brando on acting
Orson Welles, language maven

[For anyone who doesn’t get the joke: Wikipedia explains.]

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Allan Block (1923–2013)

Allan Block was a sandal maker and fiddler whose Greenwich Village shop, Allan Block Sandals, became a center for old-timey music in New York. The New York Times has an obituary.

You can catch a glimpse of the sandal shop in this post on West Fourth Street’s role in an episode of Naked City. The shop’s location, 171 West Fourth Street, is now a tobacco and smoking accessories store. Elaine and I walked past it in May.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Art by Javier Pérez

[Javier Pérez, Trompclip.]

Elaine pointed me to the art of Javier Pérez. Beautiful and punny.

SEIU on campus

My friend Sara pointed me to news of the growing number of adjunct faculty joining Service Employees International Union:

Bill Shimer, a part-time lecturer in management and organizational development at Northeastern University in Boston, said he never imagined being part of the union movement. But he has been rallying colleagues to support an upcoming vote on whether to form a union.

“It’s not that people want to unionize, but we really don’t see any other way. There’s nowhere to turn and nobody is looking out for us,” said Shimer, who teaches five classes at Northeastern and two at another local university.

The university has responded by hiring a prominent law firm used by many corporations to discourage union organizing.
I am always surprised when a teacher finds the prospect of a union distasteful. I am saddened and not surprised when management university adminstrators feel the same way.

Thanks, Sara.

Ph.D.’s outside academia

The New York Times has an article on Ph.D.’s outside academia: The Repurposed Ph.D. What goes unaddressed: whether a doctorate is truly necessary for the kinds of work the article describes.

[Why Ph.D.’s ? The apostrophe is “traditionally used with abbreviations containing capital letters and periods” to form a plural (Garner’s Modern American Usage ).]

A drawer of the past

[Henry, November 2, 2013.]

I like the refrigerator, but I especially like the drawer — not just the suggestion of dovetail joints but the way the drawer drops when opened. No drawer slides in this comic strip world.

Related reading
All Henry posts (Pinboard)

[Why “the suggestion of dovetail joints”? Because there are no trapezoids. These joints hold together a two-dimensional drawer, so the extra strength of the traditional dovetail is not needed.]

Friday, November 1, 2013

Macintosh Plus emulator

James Friend’s Mac Plus emulator takes me back my first experience with a Mac: 1984, in a Boston computer store. The Mac seemed then to be a pleasant (and expensive) toy. Elaine and I ended up buying a Panasonic Senior Partner and an Olympia daisy-wheel printer. We were no visionaries. These machines would not work together, and we returned them both for a full refund (thanks to a friendly musician-salesman). Our next computer was an Apple //c. Many years (and Windows) later, our fambly is nothing but Macs.

The Mac Plus appeared in January 1986.

[Found via Daring Fireball.]

New Jersey gets a star

I’ve been waiting to post an updated Flag of Equal Marriage with a star for New Jersey. I’ve checked the flag’s site, counted, and waited: fifteen states, still only fourteen stars. And then I looked more carefully at the list, which has fourteen not fifteen states (including New Jersey) and Washington, D.C.: fourteen stars.

Note to self: do not skim lists.

A related post
The flag of equal marriage

[New Jersey: represent.]