Friday, May 30, 2014

“A formal, considered form of correspondence”

Shaun Usher of Letters of Note, interviewed by Marco Werman:

What we’re losing when we tweet people and e-mail people and send Facebook messages rather than write letters is a formal, considered form of correspondence. When you sit down to write a letter, you’re in a completely different frame of mind than you are when you write an e-mail or a tweet, and you really kind of dig deep rather than just, you know, having ten tabs open at once and flicking backwards and forwards and never properly focusing on the job at hand. So I think we’re losing something really quite deep.
Listen to it all: Here’s what we lost when we stopped writing letters (PRI).

In New York last week, I made it a point to buy some Clairefontaine paper and envelopes. I am going to write more letters. If anyone would like a letter from me, let me know. I will oblige.

Related reading
All OCA letters posts (Pinboard)

[Friends, take warning.]

C. O. Bigelow

[Photograph by Michael Leddy.]

C. O. Bigelow Apothecaries, 414 Sixth Avenue, New York, established 1838, the oldest apothecary in the United States.

Neon in daylight is indeed “a great pleasure.”

More neon
Minetta Tavern
Saratoga Bar and Cafe

Thursday, May 29, 2014

On “trigger warnings”

A recent New York Times article describes a new trend in academic life:

Colleges across the country this spring have been wrestling with student requests for what are known as “trigger warnings,” explicit alerts that the material they are about to read or see in a classroom might upset them or, as some students assert, cause symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in victims of rape or in war veterans.
Among these schools: the University of California, Santa Barbara, where student government has called for trigger warnings. The dateline for the Times article — Santa Barbara itself — now serves as a cruel reminder that reality itself most often comes without warnings.

For several semesters I’ve put this statement on my syllabi when appropriate: “The works we’re reading contain material that some readers may find offensive or disturbing (language, sex, violence). In such cases, please consider taking another course.” No one has ever asked what was coming. I think a general warning like this one is appropriate, with further conversation as needed. But I’m against labeling individual works of the imagination in a way that reduces their content to a set of potentially dangerous elements. Imagine Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man accompanied by a “Contains racism” warning. Or “Contains racism, a corrupt college administrator, rural and urban poverty, a tall tale of incest, uninvited touching, an uninvited sexual proposition, a rape fantasy, an eviction, a police shooting, rioting, looting, and arson.” There is no end to what might upset a reader.

I wonder: what do students who favor trigger warnings expect to find in literature? As Gwendolyn Brooks wrote, “Art hurts.” Pity and terror are sometimes what we’re meant to feel. And we can feel these things not only because of what has happened to us: we can feel them because of our shared humanity.

Things I learned on my summer vacation

Q. Why did the arsonist refuse to answer any questions?

A. He didn’t want to incinerate himself.


“Are you rolling your eyes?”

“I’m rolling everything.”


In some ways, I am no longer part of NPR’s target audience.


Phil Schaap is still Phil Schaap, or even more so. “An immeasurable increase that’s vast.” Sigh. “This plethora, if you will, meaning ‘large.’” No, I will not. From Garner’s Modern American Usage :

According to the OED and most other dictionaries, this word refers (and has always referred) to an overabundance, an overfullness, or an excess. The phrase a plethora of is essentially a highfalutin equivalent of too many.

Arnold Stang was the voice of Chunky.


My parents’ first car was a Plymouth Savoy, blue, with fins. I remember the car but never knew its name.


Working in construction, my dad once saw a fellow tileman ridiculed by his peers for using the word threshold to refer to, yes, a threshold.


My mom’s mother referred to Special K cereral as Ks. She had her Ks for breakfast.


Ilities: bizspeak for the section of a document that covers liability and related matters. Used without irony.


There is a Theda Bara Way in Fort Lee, New Jersey.


Bibby’s Mediterranean Café in Fort Lee is gone. The owner may be acquiring a food truck.


The white clam pizza from Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana in New Haven is a glorious thing. Clams, grated cheese, olive oil, garlic, oregano. Period. Every houseguest should be so fortunate as to have their hosts travel back from Boston with some Frank Pepe pizza. (Thank you, Luanne and Jim.)


Strip-mall restaurants really do rule. Three in New Jersey: Citrus serves Indian and Thai dishes. Koi serves Chinese dishes and sushi. Tony’s Touch of Italy needs no more than its name as explanation. Especially good: lamb vindaloo, moo shu pork, mussels marinara.


The difference between chicken tikka masala and buttered chicken: the one is made with cream; the other, with butter.


In Hoboken, New Jersey, Cucharamama (“mother spoon”) rules. (Our friends Jim and Luanne are friends of the restaurant’s chef, Maricel Presilla.) Such flavors. And such hospitality. My suggestion: order everything to share, just a couple of main dishes and as many appetizers as you dare. Variety is all.


Our friend Jim’s work lies behind — or in — the gyroscopes that direct the REMUS 6000 (used in the search for Air France Flight AF447) and the Bluefin-21 (used in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370). Jim is a modest guy: this information came up entirely in passing.


In East Harlem, New York, El Paso Restaurante rules. We were there during the championship football match between Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid. The crowd watching at the bar seemed of one mind, though I couldn’t tell you which side they were cheering. Knowing how the match went, I would now say that they must have been cheering Real Madrid.


My mom reminded me that when I was a college student, waiting one morning for the Frick Museum to open, a guard told me not to sit on the steps. Now people sit on the steps with impunity. I did remember being chastened in the museum because I was bending to better see the details in a painting. This time I not only bent: I squatted, to better see the titles on the spines of the books in the library.


At the Frick: Joseph Chinard’s Portrait of Louis-Étienne Vincent-Marniola is incontrovertible proof that Elvis Aron Presley was a time-traveler.


At the Frick: figures in Rembrandt’s Nicolaes Ruts and Vermeer’s Mistress and Maid look like they’re holding PocketMods. But we know that PocketMods cannot time-travel.


My feeling about the Frick hasn’t changed in thirty-odd years: gratitude for the chance to see the art, and a sick feeling about the exploitation and injustice that underwrote its acquisition. Seeing a painting of Saint Francis in this setting makes my irony meter go haywire. I doubt I’ll go back.


There was more to the photographer Vivian Maier than didn’t meet the eye. In other words, there are some dark elements in this invisible woman’s story. Finding Vivian Maier (dir. John Maloof and Charlie Siskel, 2014) does a fine job of presenting Maier’s life and work. We liked this film so much that we ended up seeing it twice.


Stevdan Pen & Stationers has a great selection of supplies and great service. When I asked about 2015 Moleskine datebooks, the proprietor called his other location and had someone walk over a Moleskine for me. But only after checking every detail: Large, pocket, or mini? (Pocket.) Hardcover, or softcover? (Hardcover.) Color? (Black.)


C. O. Bigelow is the oldest apothecary in the United States.


Duane Reade is a subsidiary of the Walgreen Company. Duane Reade is like Walgreens for New York City, though there are also Walgreens stores in the city.


Colin Huggins is a pianist who plays a baby grand in Washington Square Park. On the night we saw him, he was set up not far from the location of an earlier performance: Detective Adam Flint’s recitation of an Emily Dickinson poem.


Century: 100 Years of Type in Design is a wonderful exhibit at AIGA. I didn’t learn about the exhibit on vacation: it was already on our to-do list. Nor did I learn about this short film on vacation: I found out about it back here on the prairie. What I did learn on vacation: Monotype’s Dan Rhatigan is a terrific tour guide.


W. A. Dwiggins coined the term “graphic designer.”


The Museum of the City of New York is a gem of a museum. (How had we never been there?) It has five exhibits right now: Activist New York (social activism through the decades), City as Canvas (graffiti art), Gilded New York ($$), In a World of Their Own: Coney Island Photographs by Aaron Rose, and Palaces for the People: Guastavino and the Art of Structural Tile. This last exhibit is spectacular. Also: Timescapes, a short film tracking the city’s growth. Also: stairwells covered in pithy observations about New York. I’ve never paused so often when ascending or descending a staircase. Bad staircase habits!


It is especially easy to miss my friend Rob Zseleczky when in New Jersey.


“There are no shortcuts”: Crete Carrier.

More things I learned on my summer vacation
2013 : 2012 : 2011 : 2010 : 2009 : 2008 : 2007 : 2006

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

CBS homophone mishap

On the CBS Evening News tonight, a topic box next to anchor Norah O’Donnell referred to “AMERICA’S ROLL” in world affairs. Please, not a Kaiser roll.

The mistake has been fixed for the online version of the news. But there it was, on the TV. And here it is, still, as preserved via Twitter.

A related post
Family Circus homophone catastrophe

[Topic box: “A visual inserted in a window — a box — on the screen, generally to the right of a newscaster, to identify the subject of a news report; also called a box , frame squeeze , or theme identifier .” I knew there had to be a name for it. Definition found hear, or here.]

Spellings of the future

[As seen in print.]

When I am asked to rate the self-confidence of prospective teachers, I leave all boxes unchecked. Having a very high degree of self-confidence, I explain, is not necessarily a good thing. Sometimes using a dictionary is better. See above.

Other spellings of the future
Aww : Bard-wired fence : Now : Where

[Spellings of the future: misspellings traveling backward in time to give us a foretaste of our language’s evolution.]

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Bresson on resources

The director Robert Bresson:

The faculty of using my resources well diminishes when their number grows.

Notes on Cinematography, trans. Jonathan Griffin (New York: Urizen Books, 1977).
Related reading
All OCA Bresson posts (Pinboard)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Herb Jeffries (1913–2014)

The actor and singer Herb Jeffries has died. From the New York Time obituary: “I just knew that my life would be more interesting as a black guy. If I’d chosen to live my life passing as white, I’d have never been able to sing with Duke Ellington.”

I believe that Herb Jeffries was the last link to the 1940s Ellington band.

Jeffries’s recordings with Ellington, via YouTube and Grooveshark
“The Brown-Skin Gal in the Calico Gown” : “Flamingo” : “The Girl in My Dreams Tries to Look like You” : “I Never Felt This Way Before” : “Jump for Joy” : “My Little Brown Book” : “There Shall Be No Night” : “What Good Would It Do?” : “You, You Darlin’”

[If you’re picking three: “Flamingo,” “I Never Felt This Way Before,” and “Jump for Joy.” But I also have inordinate affection for “There Shall Be No Night.”]


May 27: I’ve corrected the link for “Jump for Joy”: I had the Ivie Anderson version.

Memorial Day

[“Arlington Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia. A girl watching Colonel Hammond lay the President’s wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Memorial Day.” Photograph by Esther Bubley. May 1943. From the Library of Congress. Click for a larger view.]

Friday, May 23, 2014

Gilbert Sorrentino, Irish and Italian

Gilbert Sorrentino, in an essay about his Irish and Italian inheritance:

I end with two stories . . . . The first concerns the man who goes into an Italian cobbler’s shop with a pair of shoes to be heeled. He makes it clear that he must have the shoes that same evening, and that if the cobbler can’t do the job, he won’t leave the shoes. The cobbler swears that the shoes will be ready. That evening, the man returns to find that the shoes are not ready, and, exasperated, he asks the cobbler why he swore to him that they would be. The cobbler replies: “Telling you that they’d be ready, even when I knew they wouldn’t, made you happy all day.”

The second is the joke about the Irishman who comes home to his wife drunk every night. A priest tells her that she should throw a good scare into her husband to cure him, and that night, when he arrives at the door, his wife appears in a sheet, and screams at him: “I am the Devil, come to take you to hell!” The drunk looks at this figure, and after a moment, says, “I’m pleased to meet you. . . . I married your sister!” That this latter touches on the strange Irish affinity for the heresy of Manichaeism is another story.

“Genetic Coding,” in Something Said: Essays (San Francisco: North Point Press, 1984).
Other Sorrentino posts
From Gilbert Sorrentino’s final work
Gilbert Sorrentino (1929-2006)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

I can’t get no satisfaction

To be able to be satisfied with little is not a failing, it is a blessing — if, at any rate, what you seek is satisfaction. And if you seek something other than satisfaction, I would inquire (with astonishment) into what it is that you find more desirable than satisfaction. What, I would ask, could possibly be worth sacrificing satisfaction in order to obtain?

William B. Irvine, A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009).
Related reading
Stoic-colored glasses (Another excerpt)
William B. Irvine’s website

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Stoic-colored glasses

We normally characterize an optimist as someone who sees his glass as being half full rather than half empty. For a Stoic, though, this degree of optimism would only be a starting point. After expressing his appreciation that his glass is half full rather than being completely empty, he will go on to express his delight in even having a glass: It could, after all, have been broken or stolen. And if he is atop his Stoic game, he might go on to comment about what an astonishing thing glass vessels are: They are cheap and fairly durable, impart no taste to what we put in them, and — miracle of miracles! — allow us to see what they contain. This might sound a bit silly, but to someone who has not lost his capacity for joy, the world is a wonderful place. To such a person, glasses are amazing: to everyone else, a glass is just a glass, and it is half empty to boot.

William B. Irvine, A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009).
A terrific book. Reading it, I realize that for years now I’ve been thinking (at least sometimes) along Stoic lines.

Related reading
I can’t get no satisfaction (Another excerpt)
William B. Irvine’s website

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Domestic comedy

“I saw that look in your hands.”

Related reading
All OCA domestic comedy posts (Pinboard)

[The subject was pistachios.]

Monday, May 19, 2014

”How about some good hot coffee?”

[Life, November 15, 1954.]

This advertisement supposes an attentive audience, prepared to read every word. Did it work? It works with me. I am helpless before it. I surrender, gladly, and identify, if only for a moment, with that railroad man. I, too, welcome the question “How about some good hot coffee?” — with or without italics. I, too, welcome a “Coffee-break” — with or without a capital C, with or without quotation marks.

According to the Wikipedia article Break (work), the Pan-American Coffee Bureau was instrumental in popularizing the term coffee-break . Life has several 1952 advertisements with the Bureau’s full-length slogan, “Give yourself a coffee-break . . . and get what coffee gives to you.” Here’s one. The Oxford English Dictionary dates the term to 1951. Time (March 5, 1951): “Since the war, the coffee break has been written into union contracts.”

120 Wall Street was and is a skyscraper.

I am still peering ahead, as if looking for signals.

Related reading
Coffee and repetition (Submitted for Your Perusal)
All OCA coffee posts (Pinboard)

Friday, May 16, 2014

Nancy Malone and The Times

The New York Times at last has an obituary for Nancy Malone. The Los Angeles Times still promises that “a complete obituary” is forthcoming.

I read the Times obituary this morning and, ever curious, searched my stats. Yes, The Times uses highly specialized twenty-first-century research tools:

[May 13, 2014, at 6:22 in the evening.]

If the Times obituary borrows anything from Orange Crate Art, it’s a mistake. When I posted an image of Malone’s 1946 Life cover (bright and early on May 13), I wrote that Malone is “not identified by name.” I came to that mistaken conclusion by looking at the issue’s photo credits. Had I looked more thoroughly, I would have seen a description of the cover on page 3:

[“Nancy Maloney of Long Island, shown on cover holding first issue of LIFE, is one of the most successful younger Powers models.” Not a mistake: she was born Maloney.]

The Times obituary describes Malone on the cover of Life as “an anonymous girl-next-door in pigtails.” True, there’s no name on the cover, but the magazine does identify Malone by name. A Times reporter or researcher might have made the same mistake I made by looking at the cover alone. But turning the pages of the magazine (or the virtual pages, at Google Books) would fix things. I think it likely that the Times borrowed a mistaken detail from me. That’s what can happen when you trust the Internets.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Mark Trail revised

[Mark Trail, May 15, 2014.]

Yes, Old Rex, “the grizzly bear that lives near Cutter’s Bluff,” has entered the scene. Rex will, I assume, save Mark Trail from the other (enraged) bear that has pursued him for many days now. Looking at the expression on Mark’s face, though, I imagine a different scene, one in which Cherry Trail has finally begun to speak frankly of her, uhh, needs.

[Mark Trail revised, May 15, 2014.]

You can read Mark Trail every day at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and other fine news outlets.

Related reading
All OCA Mark Trail posts (Pinboard)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Some years ago, the app WindowShade X made it possible to roll up a Mac window, so to speak, leaving nothing but a title bar. That’s tremendously useful to anyone working on a small screen. I began using this app not long after switching to a Mac in 2007.

As OS X evolved, WindowShade X stopped working. But the app has a worthy successor: RGB World’s WindowMizer (for OS X 10.6 and higher). WindowMizer has many options, among which is an option to hide its Dock icon (seen to the left) — that’s handy with an app that is always on. (Always on at least on my Macs.)

WindowMizer is not free and not exactly cheap: a $14.99 license allows installation on two machines. Given the app’s usefulness, the price is a bargain. And the app’s developer, Chris Kassa, stands by his work. E-mail him with a question or problem, as I did yesterday, and he’ll give you a friendly, helpful response. My problem: I was trying to install an old version of the app, not the more recent version for which I have a license. Chris figured that out, not me.

Before there was WindowMizer, before there was WindowShade X, and before there was OS X, there was WindowShade, built into the Mac operating system. A post at RGB World tells the story: History of WindowShade.

[A Chrome window, rolled up with WindowMizer.]

Musician v. singer again

About the categories musician and singer again:

“Anita was not a singer, in my estimation. She was a musician who used her voice as an instrument.”
That’s the trumpeter Denny Roche speaking, in the documentary Anita O’Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer (dir. Robbie Cavolina and Ian McCrudden, 2007), a great documentary about a great singer and musician. O’Day’s sense of time and her phrasing: where did they come from? She was a wonder.

If you’ve never seen the great clip of Anita O’Day at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival: here you go.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Nancy Malone in Life magazine

To my knowledge, she made three appearances.

[Life, November 25, 1946. Eleven-year-old Nancy Malone on the cover of Life ’s tenth-anniversary issue. She is identified on page 3 of the magazine as “Nancy Maloney of Long Island,” “one of the most successful younger Powers models.”]

[“Hokum and More Hokum,” Life, December 22, 1952. Ronald Alexander’s comedy Time Out for Ginger ran for 248 performances on Broadway. Notice that Nancy Malone’s character, a high-schooler who wants to try out for the football team, makes the cover of Life.]

[“Stubborn sinner Bill Walker (Eli Wallach) wallops a Salvation Army lass (Nancy Malone) to show his contempt while meek down-and-outers watch.” “Handsome Soapbox for Shaw,”Life, December 10, 1956. The scene is from a Broadway production of George Bernard Shaw’s Major Barbara.]


May 16: A correction: when I made this post, I wrote that Malone was not identified by name in the November 25, 1946 issue of Life. I came to that mistaken conclusion by reading the issue’s photo credits. But a description of the cover on page 3 of this issue identifies Malone (then Maloney) by name. The New York Times may have borrowed my mistake. I’ve made a correction above.

Related reading
A letter from Nancy Malone
Nancy Malone (1935–2014)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mrs. Flood’s pencils

“I’m a product of Mrs. Flood. She didn’t take my crap”: Dixon Ticonderoga’s CEO Tim Gomez donates 100,000 pencils in honor of his high-school English teacher Wilma Flood.

Related reading
All OCA pencil posts (Pinboard)

A letter from Nancy Malone

Last March, Elaine and I wrote a letter to Nancy Malone. We told her — in a bit of understatement — that we had become die-hard Naked City fans. We praised the show’s writing, acting, and cinematography. We told her that we especially liked hearing Adam and Libby talk in poetry: “Hail to thee, blithe salami-bringer! Bird thou never wert.” We wondered if there might have been a backstory that explained such stuff. Did Adam and Libby meet in college, perhaps?

We were (as we explained) going on an incomplete acquaintance with the series, knowing only the episodes then available in a 10-DVD set. Had we seen the entire run (now available in a 29-DVD set), we would have known that Adam Flint was an English major who wrote a thesis on Emily Dickinson (as revealed in this episode). But that still wouldn’t explain how Adam and Libby met.

We were thrilled to get a reply, postmarked June 1 and beginning “Dear Michael and Elaine.” Nancy thanked us for our letter and praised the show’s writers and directors and crew. She called the director of photography Jack Priestly “simply astounding.” And she answered our question:

[“The back story on how they [insert: Libby + Adam] met was never made clear to us — we just invented our past — and as Paul was a joy to work with — he agreed + I agreed to our relationship from — ‘chance meeting in an acting class’ etc.”]

So there is more to Adam Flint than we ever suspected.

The Archive of American Television’s Naked City page has a wonderful interview with Nancy Malone. The conversation about the series begins at 40:47. Here’s her description of auditioning actors for the part of Adam Flint: “As soon as Paul Burke walked in the room, I thought, You better not go any further.” And explaining the chemistry between the characters: “Paul Burke and Nancy Malone were crazy people, who loved each other as people and trusted each other as actors.”

Elaine and I will always be grateful to Nancy Malone for taking the time to respond to our deep affection for her work.

Related reading
All OCA Naked City posts (Pinboard)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Hi and Lois watch

[Hi and Lois, May 11, 2014.]

Even more startling than the glimpse of Lois outside “Vickie’s Secret” is the final panel of today’s strip. Trixie speaks! Yet her family is oblivious. Will Trixie have more to say? Or will she go back to a life of thought balloons? Perhaps her family’s not noticing means that the strip can continue with its youngest member silent, no questions asked. No one will have to wonder, “Wasn’t there that time when Trixie said something?”

Related reading
All OCA Hi and Lois posts (Pinboard)

[For clarity: the Vickie’s Secret panel illustrates one of four “options” for Mother’s Day that Hi presents to Lois: “an all-expenses-paid shopping spree.” Is it Lois who thinks about shopping at Vickie’s Secret, or Hi? Is Lois only walking past the store on her way to GNC or Sunglass Hut? Is that box in her hands from Vickie’s Secret, or has she bought a new pair of Hush Puppies? Am I the only one who thinks it’s more than a little insulting for a husband to present his wife with “options” on Mother’s Day? Should he be making those choices for her? Should I be asking these questions?]

Happy Mother’s Day

[Photograph by James Leddy, May 25, 1957.]

My mom Louise and a younger me, on a not-mean street in Brooklyn, New York.

I am very fortunate to have this woman as my mother. Happy Mother’s Day to her and to all mothers.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Nancy Malone (1935–2014)

Sad news: the actress and director Nancy Malone has died at the age of seventy-nine. She played the aspiring actress Libby Kingston, the girlfriend, and later fiancée, of Adam Flint (Paul Burke) on the television series Naked City. She was the last surviving member of the cast.

Elaine and I sent Nancy Malone a letter last year, telling her about our love of the show, of her acting, and of the Adam-Libby partnership, especially of the way the two characters toss out lines of poetry to one another. We were thrilled to receive a two-page handwritten reply. I’ll write something about that soon.

[Nancy Malone as Libby Kingston. From the Naked City episode “The Multiplicity of Herbert Konish,” May 23, 1962.]

Related reading
A letter from Nancy Malone
Nancy Malone in Life magazine
Adam and Libby at play
Adam and Libby at play again
All OCA Naked City posts (Pinboard)

Mark Trail revised

[Mark Trail revised, May 10, 2014.]

The look on Mark’s face — I had to do it.

Related reading
All OCA Mark Trail posts (Pinboard)

[If you’re a regular reader, you know the context. If not, see here.]

Friday, May 9, 2014

Joe Wilder (1922–2014)

The trumpeter Joe Wilder has died at the age of ninety-two. The New York Times has an obituary.

My fambly was fortunate to hear Joe Wilder playing an all-Ellington program with the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra many years ago. His solos were the brightest moments of the night. Kids, you got to hear a master at work.

The January 6, 1986 issue of The New Yorker has a Whitney Balliett piece on Joe Wilder (titled “Joe Wilder”). It’s mostly Wilder talking. Here he describes his idea of improvisation:

“The melodic material determines to a great degree what I do. If it is simple material, I try and make it more ornate. If it is ornate, I try and simplify it. You try not to trample on a nice melody. You alter it here and there.”
You can listen to Joe Wilder’s alterations via these YouTube samples.

“Cherokee” : “Have You Met Miss Jones?” : “In a Mist” : “Prelude to a Kiss” : “Struttin’ with Some Barbecue”

[Can a trumpet sound like Johnny Hodges playing “Prelude to a Kiss”? Yes, if that trumpet is being played by Joe Wilder.]

Elizabeth T. Walker speaks

Here’s a lengthy 2014 conversation between the pianist Frank Pavese and the actress Elizabeth T. Walker, aka Tippy Walker, who played Valerie Campbell Boyd in the 1964 film The World of Henry Orient (dir. George Roy Hill). This conversation seems to have come online with no fanfare and to little notice. My favorite Walker observation therein: “It’s very hard to be yourself, but it’s the best possible thing.”

This 2012 piece from The New Yorker website describes Walker’s difficult post-Orient life: A Star Is Born, Lost, and Found. I hope that there are good things coming Elizabeth T. Walker’s way.

I’ve been a fan of The World of Henry Orient since kidhood and finally read Nora Johnson’s 1958 novel a few years ago. Here’s an excerpt.

IBM in Naked City?

A reader writes:

Naked City shot one episode in an IBM office. My [late] father was working there at the time, and said that a girl ran down the hallway and all the IBMers were instructed to open their office doors and look out. Would you be able to tell me which episode this might be?
My correspondent thinks that the episode aired in May or June of 1961, ’62, or ’63.

I think the episode might be “The Multiplicity of Herbert Konish,” which aired on May 23, 1962. It's the only episode I can recall offhand in which office life is prominent. (It also happens to be one of my favorite episodes.) But no one runs in this episode, and there’s no one looking out from an office doorway. As my correspondent notes, such a scene may have been filmed and left unused.

Naked City viewers: is another episode more likely? Adair, can you help here?

Another way at the question: does anyone recognize IBM in these scenes?

[Detective Adam Flint (Paul Burke) on the premises. The name on the door may be a fiction: I can find no trace of it.]

[David Wayne as Herbert Konish, pressing Down.]

[William LeMassena as Mr. Hanley, looking up an account in a Rolodex. Click any image for a larger view.]

The IMDb page for this episode has only Biograph Studios (in the Bronx) as a location. But these interiors do not look like sets. And Washington Square Park is conspicuous in this episode, so plainly the page is incomplete. As you may have already guessed, I haven’t found interior images of IBM offices circa 1960.

“The Multiplicity of Herbert Konish” is the subject of one, two, three previous OCA posts.

Related reading
All OCA Naked City posts (Pinboard)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Impressionist France

At the St. Louis Art Museum, through July 6, Impressionist France: Visions of Nation from Le Gray to Monet. The exhibit explores the role of nineteenth-century painters and photographers in the construction of French identity. Five things I was surprised to learn:

A state-funded project employed five photographers (including Gustave Le Gray) to document French monuments in need of conservation.

Another photographer, Charles Marville, photographed old Parisian streets and buildings before they were demolished in Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann’s project of urban renewal.

Le Gray and Marville were both official photographers; Le Gray for France, Marville for Paris. All very WPA-like in my achronological head.

French rural life has long been associated with the idea of la France profonde, “deep France,” ancient and unchanged.

The paint tube transformed the possibilities of painting. The painter John Goffe Rand invented the tube in 1841. It made paint easily portable, allowing painters to work en plein air. Pierre-Auguste Renoir: “Without colors in tubes, there would be no Cézanne, no Monet, no Pissarro, and no Impressionism.”

Here’s more about paint tubes, from Smithsonian Magazine: “Never Underestimate the Power of a Paint Tube.” (This article is the source of the Renoir sentence above.) And here, from the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art, is Rand’s patent, “Improvement in the Construction of Vessels or Apparatus for Preserving Paint, & c.”

[Is there even one American city with an official photographer?]

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Old Blue

[Bearded Bull’s Head. Sumerian, Early Dynastic III Period, 2600–2450 BCE. Copper with lapis lazuli and shell inlay. Saint Louis Art Museum.]

The museum card says,

This bull’s head is made from solid copper, an extremely costly and valuable material in antiquity. It was likely part of an architectural element, such as a lintel over door, since it is too heavy to be a furniture embellishment. The bull was commonly associated with a storm god, whose control of weather and thunder was imagined as a great bull roaring across the sky. As an embodiment of power and fertility, the bearded bull served as a symbol of divine protection and royal might throughout ancient Near Eastern art.
Mighty, yes. But such a plaintive face! I think of Blake’s tyger: mighty, but.

You can see this bull on the Museum’s website. He’s much bluer in person.

[About the post title: see here, listen here.]

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


“WTF!!” indeed. If the tweeter had read more attentively, he might have noticed the sentence that concludes the post: “I know my parts of speech, but I like the modesty of sentence-style titles for Orange Crate Art posts.” See? I’m not as dumb as I look, or as I look to some people.

The related post
How to capitalize a title



I wish I knew where these slips originated: they just appeared on the bedroom floor the other day. I like the care that went into their design. Four languages, two to a side, 1 5/8" x 2 1/8".

A related post
Inspected With Pride By Betty Tingle

Monday, May 5, 2014

Hundred-Dollar General

I would respectfully suggest that if there’s one place not to pass a counterfeit hundred-dollar bill, it would be a Dollar General store. Your large bill will look wildly out of proportion to any plausible purchase and more than a little suspicious.

[Or at least that would be the case if I were cashiering.]

How to capitalize a title

I like doing these things by hand, but here’s a useful service for the careful writer: TitleCapitalization. Type in your title, and it’s capitalized for you.

This service might not satisfy the super-careful writer. Here are TitleCapitalization’s rules, presented as a paraphrase of The Chicago Manual of Style (8.157):

1. Capitalize the first and the last word.
2. Capitalize nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, and subordinate conjunctions.
3. Lowercase articles (a, an, the), coordinating conjunctions, and prepositions.
4. Lowercase the “to” in an infinitive (I want to play guitar).
The Chicago rules are a bit more complicated:
1. Capitalize the first and last words in titles and subtitles (but see rule 7), and capitalize all other major words (nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and some conjunctions—but see rule 4).
2. Lowercase the articles the , a , and an .
3. Lowercase prepositions, regardless of length, except when they are used ad­verbially or adjectivally (up in Look Up , down in Turn Down , on in The On But­ton , to in Come To , etc.) or when they compose part of a Latin expression used adjectivally or adverbially (De Facto , In Vitro , etc.).
4. Lowercase the conjunctions and , but , for , or , and nor .
5. Lowercase to not only as a preposition (rule 3) but also as part of an infinitive (to Run , to Hide , etc.), and lowercase as in any grammatical function.
6. Lowercase the part of a proper name that would be lowercased in text, such as de or von .
7. Lowercase the second part of a species name, such as fulvescens in Acipenser fulvescens , even if it is the last word in a title or subtitle.
Did I say a bit ? And then there are the rules for hyphenated compounds.

TitleCapitalization won’t solve every title problem (Turn Down , Acipenser fulvescens , E-flat ), but it would go a long way toward getting a title right. It’s saddens me to realize that even the basics of capitalizing a title call for an understanding of grammar (the parts of speech and the functions of words) that most twenty-first-century college students lack.

I found TitleCapitalization by reading Daughter Number Three.

[I know my parts of speech, but I like the modesty of sentence-style titles for Orange Crate Art posts.]


May 9: John Wohn’s Twitter reaction to this post — “Alas, grammar! Grammar blog about capitalizing titles DOESN’T capitalize its titles!! WTF!!” — might have been forestalled had Wohn read the sentence in brackets just above. It’s always been there. WTF indeed.

Finals time again

As finals near: How to do well on a final examination. I wrote this post in 2005 because I was unable to find anything like it online. It offers practical advice for keeping calm and carrying on, all of which remains sound. There’s also some anti-advice, from 2007: How to do horribly on a final exam. My students tell me that Grey’s Anatomy is still on television, which means that all (three) pop-culture references in the “horribly” post remain timely.

A Fragile Trust, tonight on PBS

Tonight on the PBS series Independent Lens: A Fragile Trust, a documentary about the New York Times reporter and fabulist Jayson Blair.

Naked City Mongol

[From the Naked City episode “Dust Devil on a Quiet Street,” November 28, 1962. Click for a larger view.]

Get a good look at this counterman (Martin Sheen). His shirt: crisp and clean. His hair: neatly combed. And his pencil: a Mongol no. 2.

The Mongol is, at least in my overactive imagination, the official pencil of the Naked City. The brand makes three pretty conspicuous appearances in the series. This has been one of them.

Related reading
A Naked City Mongol
One more Mongol
All OCA Mongol posts (Pinboard)
All OCA Naked City posts (Pinboard)

Haydn’s pencil

Elaine found a photograph of Franz Joseph Haydn’s pencil. Or one of his pencils. He probably used more than one.

Related reading
All OCA pencil posts (Pinboard)

Sunday, May 4, 2014

NPR, sheesh

From the sublime to the not-sublime: NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday had a segment this morning announcing the winner of a contest run by Bleeding Fingers Custom Music Shop, a company that supplies music to reality-television shows, “everything from Duck Dynasty to Survivor.” The prize: a job as a staff composer at Bleeding Fingers. No irony here, just Rachel Martin’s cheerfulness. Speaking to the winner: “I imagine you have to be kind of thrilled, right?”

NPR, what’s going on?

Other cranky NPR posts
NPR speaking
A yucky Wednesday on NPR

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Sonny Rollins on music

Sonny Rollins, on NPR’s All Things Considered this afternoon, responding to the question of whether there is anything more he would like to do in music: “Music is an open sky.”

Related reading
All OCA Sonny Rollins posts (Pinboard)

Mark Trail revised

One more time.

[Mark Trail, May 3, 2014.]

[Mark Trail revised, May 3, 2014.]

Much better this way. The context is here. Look out where yr going, Mrs. Trail.


9:08 p.m.: There’s no end to it.

[Mark Trail revised again, May 3, 2014.]

Chet Baker was an influence here.

Related reading
All OCA Mark Trail posts (Pinboard)

Friday, May 2, 2014

Anthony Catalano, friend of Boro Park

[Anthony Catalano, “NYC Blizzard of February 6-7, 1978 Brooklyn, Boro Park, New Utrecht Ave Tel: ULster 1-5012.” Available at Flickr. Licensed under a Creative Commons 2.0 License. Click for a larger view. And here’s the original size.]

Looking online for Brooklyn past, I saw the sad news that Anthony Catalano has died. I never knew him, but I have taken great pleasure in his photographs. His Flickr account (which his brother says will remain active) has 2,897 photographs, many of life in Brooklyn, and many of life in Brooklyn’s Boro Park. Mr. Catalano also contributed to the Facebook group Old Boro Park. For Boro Park ex-pats of a certain age, Anthony Catalano’s photographs are powerful madeleines, even more powerful than a Coke and a slice.

I chose this photograph for New Utrecht (my family lived close to the Avenue, and I’ve always liked its name) and the signage. The ULster exchange is a bonus. The Coca-Cola sign, by the way, is what’s called a privilege sign. Notice too the Breyers sign in the window.

A related post
P. S. 131, 44th Street, Brooklyn

[People from Boro Park tend to spell its name without ‑ugh.]

Mark Trail revised

[Mark Trail, May 2, 2014.]

Like films and television shows, Mark Trail at times has continuity problems. In yesterday’s strip, it was getting late, and dark. Darkness filled the darkening air. Today, too, it’s getting late, as Cherry Trail observes, but things are brighter, lighter. Whither the dark?

[There it is! Mark Trail revised, May 2, 2014.]

Joining yesterday’s revision to today’s would make a nice strip:

[Mark Trail revised, May 1–2, 2014.]

But the more I studied Cherry’s face, the more I could see only one thing to do:

[Cherry Cherry Cherry Cherry, May 2, 2014.]

Note: No one — no one — messes with Cherry’s hair.

Related reading
All OCA Mark Trail posts (Pinboard)

[All revisions made with the free Mac app Seashore and Preview’s Instant Alpha tool. I am beginning to understand Alpha.]

Thursday, May 1, 2014


It’s the fiftieth anniversary of Beginner’s All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code. Time has a lengthy report: Fifty Years of BASIC. Dartmouth has a celebration: BASIC at 50. It puzzles me that Google has nothing. Doesn’t BASIC’s fiftieth rate a Google Doodle?

Raise your hand if you remember typing in BASIC programs from books and magazines.

Mark Trail revised

[Mark Trail, May 1, 2014.]

[Mark Trail revised, May 1, 2014.]

Thinking about this panel, I thought of Sappho: “Midnight. / The hour has gone by. / I sleep alone.” I thought of Djuna Barnes: “Watchman, What of the Night?” I thought of Ted Berrigan: “It is night. You are asleep. And beautiful tears / Have blossomed in my eyes.” And then I just thought “night.”

To revise this panel, I borrowed some night (not pants) from today’s Hi and Lois.

[Hi and Lois, May 1, 2014.]

It’s getting late. I was supposed to punch in at the Continental Paper Grading Co. nineteen minutes ago. Back tomorrow.

Related reading
All OCA Mark Trail posts (Pinboard)

[The lines from Sappho are from Stanley Lombardo’s 2002 translation. “Watchman, What of the Night?” is a chapter title in the novel Nightwood (1936). “It is night”: from XXXVII, The Sonnets (1964).]