Friday, July 31, 2020

Is the new Blogger a New Coke?

From the Official Blogger Blog, May 20, 2020:

We’ll be moving everyone to the new interface over the coming months. Starting in late June, many Blogger creators will see the new interface become their default, though they can revert to the old interface by clicking “Revert to legacy Blogger” in the left-hand navigation. By late July, creators will no longer be able to revert to the legacy Blogger interface.
But the message I just saw when I just signed into Blogger:
In July, the new Blogger interface will become the default for all users. The legacy interface will still be optionally available.
My brief experiences with the new Blogger interface have been disappointing, in many ways, all of which I’ve let Google know about via Feedback. (Here’s just one problem.) Irony: in the new interface, the Feedback button itself, like so many other things, is difficult to find. If Google has quietly decided to let the old interface live, it’s a wise if embarrassing choice. Pass the old Coke, please.

Another discovery: If you switch to the new interface and decide to switch back, you now see this message:
You've reverted to the legacy Blogger interface. We’ll be moving all bloggers to the new interface over the coming months.
Until recently, the message added that the old Blogger would at some point become unavailable.

And I must point out the lack of care in Google’s copyediting: one dumb apostrophe, one smart apostrophe. Sheesh.

[Remember “New Coke?” I don’t drink soda, but if I did, I’d drink old Coke.]

Domestic comedy

[The television was on.]

“We have some new polling to show you, and it shows some trouble for the Trump campaign.”

Followed by spontaneous applause from our four hands.

Related reading
All OCA domestic comedy posts (Pinboard)

Ajax and EMTs

I watched a Theater of War event for Zoom last night: dramatic readings from Sophocles’s Ajax followed by a discussion among EMS providers. The actors: Chad Coleman (Ajax), Amy Ryan (Tecmessa), and Anthony Almojera (Chorus). You may know Coleman and Ryan as Cutty and Beadie from The Wire. Almojera is an FDNY parademic. All three read with great power and pathos.

Things I learned: EMTs are woefully underpaid. Their careers tend to be short, with people moving out after a few years. Unlike, say, firefighters, EMTs get little recognition. One participant told a story of a team bringing someone back from death (literally) at a fire, then finding that only the firefighters on the scene were honored at a ceremony. Why? The EMTs couldn’t be spared — too many calls.

It’s all at least loosely related to Sophocles’s Ajax, whom I’ve begun to think of as a quintessential essential worker. He does what needs to be done, giving his all. His community’s survival depends on his effort. His sense of honor runs deep. When he is denied the reward he believes is due him (the dead Achilles’s armor), his sense of betrayal runs just as deep. After an episode of berserking, he reassures his spear-bride Tecmessa and his son that all will be well and walks away to fall on his sword.

Something I thought about after this event: the question “How are you?” One participant said the question prompted a colleague to think about what it really felt like to work amidst a pandemic. Another participant suggested that the question can be dangerous for someone unprepared to offer an honest response. Me, I think it’s probably better to ask. After all, someone can always choose to answer in a perfunctory way. See also “Are you okay?” — a question I found helpful through many years of teaching.

These are times in which we should all be asking one another how we’re doing, and if we’re okay.

A trip to Binny’s

I went to the nearby Binny’s to shop, where I kept forgetting to put on my mask. Where was it anyway? I picked up a few bottles of wine, and filled my cart with beer bottles so that I could compare labels. I met Ben and showed him a small front room, paneled in dark wood, with cheap American beer and brandy on the shelves. I explained that it must be the Upper Midwest room. An employee walked up to ask if she could ask a question. She was trying to figure out how to let people know that the store was open on Sundays. What about putting a coffin in the window? I told her I didn’t think that would work.

Outside I met my dad, and we walked down a brick-paved street. He was barefoot, walking like a much younger man, and I cautioned him to watch for the rat traps by the curb as we walked back to my hotel.

Related reading
All OCA dream posts (Pinboard)

[Binny’s: a midwestern chain of alcohol superstores. The traps were the large black boxes you might see along the walls of a big-box store.]

Thursday, July 30, 2020

An EXchange name sighting


[Loophole (dir. Harold D. Schuster, 1954). Click for a larger view.]

Los Angeles lives: this building, still standing at 5639 Sunset Boulevard, now houses JEM Motor Corp., seller of high-end used vehicles. The number is no longer GLadstone 3111.

The exchange name on the cab that’s about to roll out from Tanner: SYcamore.

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 : Pitfall : 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?

“W.G. Sebald: A Profile”

Out from behind a paywall at The Paris Review, James Atlas’s “W.G. Sebald: A Profile.” An excerpt:

When I asked his London agent, Victoria Edwards, what he was like, she said she’d never met him. Like his peripatetic narrator, he liked to go for walks in all weather; twice when I called, his wife told me he was “out with the dogs.” The notion of a literary profile bewildered him. “I am glad you liked The Emigrants and quite astounded that you propose to come all the way to talk to me,” he’d written in reply to my request for an interview.
Yesterday afternoon I pulled from a shelf three books by Sebald I haven’t yet read. Finding this profile available online feels like a sign that it’s time to read them.

Related reading
All OCA Sebald posts (Pinboard)

[The text of the profile appears to have been scanned, with conspicuous errors. But it’s free. The books I have read: Vertigo, The Emigrants, The Rings of Saturn, Austerlitz, and a collection of interviews.]

Last words from John Lewis

He wrote them to the published in The New York Times on the day of his funeral. An excerpt:

Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.
*

One more, coming on a day when Donald Trump* has wondered aloud about postponing the November election:
Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Orange car art

Daughter Number Three lightens the day with three photographs of a little orange Subaru. Want.

Related reading
All OCA orange posts (Pinboard)

Word of the day: buff

How rare it is these days to hear someone described as a buff. It’s a decidedly dowdy word. Buffs used to be everywhere: jazz buffs, camera buffs, stereo buffs. They were always male, and they wore madras shorts in summer, particularly at cookouts, where they spoke of Brubeck and Kenton, lenses and pre-amps. In cold weather, they switched to chinos and took the conversation indoors, sitting on mid-century chairs and sofas, with trays of cold cuts and bowls of pretzels at the ready.

That paragraph came from my imagination. The next two do not.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word and explains its surprising origin:

“An enthusiast about going to fires” (Webster 1934); so called from the buff uniforms worn by volunteer firemen in New York City in former times. Hence gen., an enthusiast or specialist. Chiefly North American colloquial.
The dictionary’s first citation is from the New York newspaper The Sun (1903): “The Buffs are men and boys whose love of fires, fire-fighting and firemen is a predominant characteristic.”

It seems that the color name buff — “of the colour of buff leather; a light brownish yellow” — comes from the French buffle, buffalo. The dictionary hedges: that’s “apparently” the origin.

And once again from my imagination:

If we ever go back to having cookouts and sitting on mid-century furniture, the surprising origin of buff will be something to word buffs for talk about. Or does they already know about it?

Chicago articles

A quiz from The Chicago Manual of Style: Fun with Articles.

A visit with Billy Gray

“Sure. Come on down, and we’ll chat our asses off”: Billy Gray invites the journalist Steve Unger to come over for a visit: “My Visit with Bud from Father Knows Best ” (Next Avenue).

A comment I must add: the imaginary world FKB did indeed address serious real-world troubles. This post catalogues a few.

Other FKB posts
“Betty’s Graduation” : A conversation from another world : FKB pencil sharpener : Flowers knows best : “Languages, economics, philosophy, the humanities” : “Margaret Disowns Her Family” : Scene-stealing card-file : “A Woman in the House” : “Your dinner jacket just arrived”

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Ajax for frontline medical providers

A Theater of War event for frontline medical providers:

This event will use Sophocles’s Ajax to create a vocabulary for discussing themes such as personal risk, death/dying, grief, deviation from standards of care, abandonment, helplessness, and complex ethical decisions. The project aims to foster connection, community, moral resilience, and positive action.
It’s a Zoom event, open to the public, scheduled for this Thursday, July 30, 7:00 p.m.–9:30 p.m. EDT. Register here.

For some readers or viewers, Ajax may be a play to approach with caution. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Related reading
All OCA Sophocles posts (Pinboard)

“Why should I?”

An exchange this morning between Representative Eric Swalwell (D, California-15) and Attorney General William Barr, about a point that came up during Barr’s confirmation hearing:

“You were asked, could a president issue a pardon in exchange for the recipient’s promise to not incriminate him? And you responded, ‘No, that would be a crime.’ Is that right?”

“Yes, I said that.”

“You said ‘a crime.’ You didn’t say it’d be wrong; you didn’t say it’d be unlawful. You said it’d be a crime. And when you said that, that a president swapping a pardon to silence a witness would be a crime, you were promising the American people that if you saw that, you would do something about it. Is that right?”

“That’s right.”

“Now, Mr. Barr, are you investigating Donald Trump for commuting the sentence of his longtime friend and political advisor Roger Stone?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Why should I?”
William Barr makes it easy to know what to think of him. See also “Bill Barr Tests Negative for Integrity.”

[My transcription.]

Twelve movies

[One to four stars. Four sentences each. No spoilers.]

Station West (dir. Sidney Lanfield, 1948). One of the Criterion Channel’s Western noir offerings, with cowboy hats and horses instead of fedoras and getaway cars. Dick Powell comes into town as an undercover investigator and trouble finds him, in the form of Jane Greer and assorted locals. Greer, as Powell himself observes, changes in appearance from scene to scene. But watch for the moment when she reprises Kathie from Out of the Past, taking erotic pleasure in the spectacle of two men fighting. Also in town: Raymond Burr, Burl Ives, and Agnes Moorehead. ★★★★

*

The Seventh Cross (dir. Fred Zinneman, 1944). From the novel by Anna Seghers, which our household is now reading. It’s 1936, and seven men have escaped from a German concentration camp. The film follows one of them, George Heisler, an anti-Nazi machinist (Spencer Tracy), as he lives by his wits, weary and wary, trying to reach old friends who may no longer be trustworthy. Hume Cronyn, Signe Hasso, Agnes Moorehead, George Macready, and Jessica Tandy are among the (literally) supporting players in this suspenseful story of selflessness and solidarity under Nazism. ★★★★

*

The Bribe (dir. Robert Z. Leonard, 1949). All atmosphere, with a G-man (Robert Taylor) traveling to a Central American island to investigate the theft and resale of airplace engines. Once we’re in Exotica, we can stop thinking about engines and focus on Ava Gardner (café singer), John Hodiak (her husband), Charles Laughton (forever meandering, or lurking) and Vincent Price (who must be up to no good). Watch for the special effect that begins the film, when Gardner appears in a window. The final crowd scene brings the fireworks. ★★★★

*

Shadows in the Night (dir. Eugene J. Forde, 1944). Warner Baxter as Dr. Robert Ordway, the Crime Doctor, a role he played in a series of low-budget films. A woman troubled by nightmares (Nina Foch) rings the Crime Doctor’s bell at three in the morning. To solve the mystery behind her dreams, the doctor travels to a seaside estate, where various people enter and exit various rooms. The only reason to see this movie: Nina Foch. ★★

*

Loophole (dir. Harold D. Schuster, 1954). A bank teller (Barry Sullivan) discovers a $49,900 shortage in his till, and he and his wife (Dorothy Malone, not yet blonde) find their lives spinning out of control. With Don Beddoe as an unassuming thief and Charles McGraw as a maniacally vengeful investigator for the bank’s bonding company. A surprisingly moving moment: Dorothy Malone weeps amid the chaos of a tiny apartment. Plenty of desk sets, file cabinets, telephones, typewriters: whatever the plot, I could watch stuff like this all day. ★★★

*

A little Anatole Litvak

The Long Night (1947). Henry Fonda leads the cast as Joe Adams, a war vet and blue-collar worker whose story is told as he holes up in his apartment, with police surrounding the building. The bigger performances here are from Barbara Bel Geddes in her film debut as Joe’s girlfriend Jo Ann and Vincent Price as Maximilian, nightclub magician and malignant narcissist. Did Maximilian and Jo Ann ever — that’s the question that torments Joe. Strong cinematography by Sol Polito — darkness, glare, staircases, crowds — adds much to an already compelling story. ★★★★

The Journey (1959). November 1956: with Russian forces occupying Hungary, a freedom fighter attempts to leave the country with thirteen international travelers. To protect him is of course to endanger everyone else, leading to moments of moral dilemma and, later, to open debate. Yul Brenner (a Russian military commander), Deborah Kerr (an English aristocrat), and Jason Robards Jr. (the freedom fighter) are the principals, with the ghosts of the King and Anna hovering over Russian-British relations. In the supporting cast: Anne Jackson, E.G. Marshall, and Robert Morley — and watch for a nearly silent Anouk Aimée. ★★★★

*

House on Haunted Hill (dir. William Castle, 1959). Vincent Price plays a millionaire who invites five people to spend a night in a haunted house — $10,000 for each person who lasts the night. Considered as an ordinary movie, House on Haunted Hill fails spectacularly. But considered as a bad movie, it succeeds spectacularly, with every cliché of horror — a creaking door, a trick wall, a head in a box, a walking skeleton — present and accounted for, inviting laughter rather than shock. The best line: “I’ve had enough of your spook talk!” ★★★★

*

The Booksellers (dir. D.W. Young, 2019). Books, rare ones, and the people who sell and buy them. This documentary is a visual feast, spine after spine, cover after cover, shelf after shelf. But the longer it went on, the more I could feel books turning into dollars, and shelves and boxes turning into joyless claustrophobia (just wait for the drawer of purses). The best moments belong to Fran Lebowitz, talking about bookstores and reading and not having the money to buy anything rare. ★★★★

*

High Heels (dir. Pedro Almodóvar, 1991). A film-star mother, a daughter, a drag artist who performs as the mother, a husband, a lover, another husband, a police investigator: those are some of the identities that shift about in this variation on the “woman’s picture,” a story of love, murder, and doubling. (Like shoes, people come in pairs.) Marisa Paredes and Victoria Abril (two Almodóvar regulars) star. My favorite scene: a spontaneous confession on live television, with a sign-language interpreter following along. ★★★★

*

Hollywood Shuffle (dir. Robert Townsend, 1987). Robert Townsend stars as Bobby Taylor, a young Black actor trying to make it in the movies. In doing so, he comes up against white producers who want him to speak such lines as “I ain’t be got no weapon!” Filled with satire of everything from Amadeus to Blaxpolitation to Eddie Murphy to Indiana Jones to Rambo to Siskel and Ebert (“I disagree, homeboy”). I loved this movie, whose broad, sharp comedy reminded me of In Living Color, whose Keenen Ivory Wayans co-wrote the screenplay and appears in two roles. ★★★★

*

Mark of the Vampire (dir. Tod Browning, 1935). “What’s that, Tod? Lionel Barrymore — for a vampire movie, with Lugosi and Donald Meek? Sure, I’m in. And say, let’s find a spot for the Borland kid.” ★★★★


[From Mark of the Vampire. Carol Borland as Luna. Click for a scarier view.]

Related reading
All OCA film posts (Pinboard)

Backblaze, anyone?

Backblaze is an online backup service. Wirecutter continues to recommend it as “the best cloud backup service for most people.”

If you’d like a free month, follow this link. If you sign up — $6 a month or $60 a year or $110 for two years — I get a free month too.

But I hope you’re already backing up online.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Bushmiller, drawn drawing


[“Self-Portrait.” Zippy, July 27, 2020.]

Today’s Zippy is an exercise in Bushmillerian Ovidian metamorphosis. Click through to see.

As you may know, Bill Griffith has been at work on a biography of Ernie Bushmiller. Here’s a preview.

Venn reading
All OCA Nancy : Nancy and Zippy : Zippy posts (Pinboard)

The return of the Jack Elrod ball

Today’s Mark Trail marks the return of the Jack Elrod ball. James Allen and the James Allen ball are gone, and the strip is now, perhaps temporarily, in reruns by Allen’s late predecessor (d. 2016). Allen’s explanation: “I’m tired and they wanted a new direction.” But a more plausible explanation might be found by following that link and reading the comments, one of which notes that Allen recently tweeted a crude, hateful remark about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from the account @themarktrail, which now shows no tweets. Allen also appears to have modeled a recent Trail character who came to a gruesome end on a Twitter critic of the strip. Thin-skinned much?

Related reading
All OCA Mark Trail posts (Pinboard)

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Blogger Preview and Safari

I’ve tried the new Blogger interface and switched back. To my eyes, it’s terrible. But I just switched again to see if I would run up against a problem a fellow blogger and Safari user encountered: no Preview view for a draft post. I did. And I noticed that every time I chose Preview, the words "Pop-up window blocked" flashed by in the address bar. So it appears that Safari identifies the Preview view — which should open in a new tab — as a pop-up window. Apple’s fault? Google’s fault? Who knows. But everything works properly in Chrome.

Here’s how to get Preview view back in Safari:

Click on Safari in the menu bar.

Click on Settings for This Website.

For Pop-up Windows, click on whatever setting is displayed and change it to Allow. There won’t appear to be other options, but click and they’ll appear.
Google plans to switch all Blogger accounts to the new interface, so this fix is worth knowing about. For me it'll be one more reason to write posts in MarsEdit. One downside: because of Google rules, MarsEdit can’t upload images to Blogger. And the app’s developer Daniel Jalkut is honest enough to no longer list Blogger as compatible with MarsEdit. But the app does still work with Blogger for writing.

My only connection to MarsEdit is that of a happy user.

“Look!”


[Zippy, July 26, 2020.]

Dingburgers dig Nancy.

Venn reading
All OCA Nancy : Nancy and Zippy : Zippy posts (Pinboard)

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Hadelich and Weiss, streaming

Before it gets any later in the day: Augustin Hadelich, violin, and Orion Weiss, piano, may be heard tonight, 8:00 EDT, in a recital from Tanglewood. Music by John Adams, Johannes Brahms, and Claude Debussy. Admission: $12. The performance will remain available through August 1.

Related reading
Three more posts about Augustin Hadelich

Today’s Saturday Stumper

Today’s Newsday Saturday Stumper, by Greg Johnson, is a solid Stumper. Personally, I found it challenging — I needed half an hour to finish. I remember a student who prefaced every comment in class with “Personally,” which I’ve capitalized here because it began sentences. Not the sentence I just wrote but sentences spoken in class.

And personally, I found the southwest corner particularly difficult.

Some clue-and-answer pairs I especially liked:

1-A, five letters, “Play with puddles” and 1-D, six letters, “Gaudy entrance.” This pairing made for a delightful start.

4-D, six letters, “Prepares to take tea.” I am always prepared to take tea.

6-A, nine letters, “Posts behind another user's back.” I can’t recall seeing the answer in a crossword before.

11-D, four letters, “Homeric work.” I was surprised to see this answer and not the more familiar one.

23-A, eleven letters, “With 46 Across, modern ‘Pay attention!’” and 46-A, eleven letters, “See 23 Across.” I imagine that the constructor was delighted to think of this sentence and find that it splits into two eleven-letter halves.

34-D, eight letters, “Requirement for clear reception.” The first four letters are easy; the last four might lead a solver astray.

37-A, six letters, “Bento box lacquerware.” I learned something.

38-A, four letters, “They make waiters angry.” Indeed.

41-A, four letters, “Door stop, essentially.” Personally, I think it’s a good idea to have a nice supply of these stashed in a kitchen drawer. You never know when you might need one.

53-A, nine letters, “Troubadour, for instance.” I was thinking SONGWRIT — ER, no, that doesn’t work.

55-D, three letters, “Impressive back yards.” Corny, but in a good way.

One clue-and-answer pair that feels forced: 43-D, six letters, “Use a space vehicle.” A vehicle? Really?

No spoilers: the answers are in the comments.

Friday, July 24, 2020

“If you have to write”


[Stranger on the Third Floor (dir. Boris Ingster, 1940). Click for an angrier view.]

Albert Meng (Charles Halton) is angry. The landlady (Jane Keckley) is angry too. It’s a rooming house, not an office building, and Mr. Meng is a good tenant. Why, he’s been living here for nearly fourteen years, and he’s always paid his rent promptly. And now Mr. Ward (John McGuire) is typing at all hours, making it impossible for Mr. Meng to sleep. “Stop using that thing!” says the landlady. And Mr. Meng:


[“If you have to write, write with a pencil!” That’s what he says, honest. Click for a louder view.]

In my student days, I too typed on a manual typewriter at all hours. Didn’t everyone?

Related reading
All OCA pencil posts (Pinboard)

[Charles Halton is probably best known as the bank examiner in It’s a Wonderful Life.]

Domestic comedy

“I’m so tired of seeing ODE in crosswords. And ODIST. No one calls John Keats an ODIST. He’s from Andy of Mayberry.”

“Isn’t he the one who’s in the jail?”

Related reading
All OCA domestic comedy posts (Pinboard)

[Wikipedia explains: Andy of Mayberry was the title for episodes of The Andy Griffith Show rerun on daytime television.]

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Antigone in Ferguson

Theater of War presents a streaming performance of Antigone in Ferguson:

Antigone in Ferguson fuses a dramatic reading by leading actors of Sophocles’s Antigone with live choral music performed by a choir of activists, police officers, youth, and concerned citizens from Ferguson and New York City. The performance is the catalyst for panel and audience-driven discussions about racialized violence, structural oppression, misogyny, gender violence, and social justice.
Free to watch, August 9, 7:30 CDT. Zoom required. Register here.

Related reading
All OCA Sophocles posts (Pinboard)

“I am someone’s daughter too”



Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) responds to Representative Ted Yoho (R-FL), who called her, on the steps of the United States Capitol, a “fucking bitch.”

I think of the many times I heard students leaving a college classroom speak of one instructor or another as a “fucking bitch.” “Don’t use language like that about your instructor,” I would say, whenever I had the chance. I wish now I had taken the chance to say more.

“A substitute for home and hearth”


Anna Seghers, Transit. 1951. Trans. from the German by Margot Bettauer Dembo (New York: New York Review Books, 2013).

Everything’s a substitute. But hospitality lives on. And it’s not only coffee, sugar, and alcohol that have their substitutes: substitution governs human relations in the novel.

A related post
“Have been and will always be”

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Five words

Jesus. Mary. And. Joseph. I’m from Brooklyn — it’s just four words.

Annie Ross (1930–2020)

The singer and actor Annie Ross has died at the age of eighty-nine. The New York Times has an obituary.

Annie Ross’s voice is one I’ve known from childhood. The Lambert, Hendricks & Ross album Sing a Song of Basie (1957) was a household favorite in my early years. Later I bought my own copy.

It turns out that I’ve known Annie Ross’s voice from childhood in a second way, minus Dave Lambert and Jon Hendricks. The Times obituary notes that the girl who sings “Loch Lomond” in a 1938 Our Gang short was Annie Ross.

Here’s Annie Ross performing her best known tune, “Twisted,” with her lyrics fitted to Wardell Gray’s tenor saxophone solo from an instrumental recording of the same name.


[Annie Ross, with Count Basie and his rhythm section: Freddie Green, guitar; Eddie Jones, bass; Sonny Payne, drums. Jon Hendricks is snapping by the fireplace. Tony Bennett is digging the sounds. From Playboy’s Penthouse (October 1959).]

Doodles



[A two-page spread of doodles from Russell M. Arundel’s Everybody’s Pixillated (1937). Life, May 24, 1937. Click either image for a larger view.]

All I can say is that I’ve never felt closer to Herbert Hoover. His doodles could be a margin in one of my notebooks from college.

A related post
Words in movies: pixilated, doodle, doodler, doodling

Words in movies

Four words, in one movie, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (dir. Frank Capra, 1936).

The first word is pixilated, which two elderly residents of Mandrake Falls, Vermont, agree describes Longfellow Deeds (Gary Cooper) — and everyone else in Mandrake Falls, Vermont, except themselves. The Oxford English Dictionary definition:

Chiefly U.S. regional. Slightly crazed; bewildered, confused; fey, whimsical; (also) intoxicated.
In the movie a psychiatrist explains:
“The word pixilated is an early American expression derived from the word pixies, meaning ‘elves.’ They would say ‘The pixies have got him,’ as we nowadays would say that a man is balmy.”
Or they might have said that the man was pixie-led. That’s a much older word in the OED. And now I’m thinking of Yeats’s “The Stolen Child.” Come away with us, you stupid human!

Five years after the movie, the folklorist Fannie Hardy Eckstorm wrote about pixilated:
The word pixilated had a nationwide vogue in 1936, following its use in the sound film Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. Most people probably thought of it as the clever coinage of a Hollywood scenarist; but the student of the local lore of New England knows that is is a well established old Marblehead [Massachusetts] word.

“‘Pixilated,’ a Marblehead Word,” American Speech) 16, no. 1 (1941).
The earliest citation Eckstorm offers (now the earliest in the OED) is from an 1848 campaign song for Zachary Taylor:
You’ll never find on any trip
That he’ll be pix-e-lated.
Three more words from Mr. Deeds: doodle (verb), doodling (noun), and doodler. Mr. Deeds explains that “everybody does something silly when they’re thinking” — playing the tuba, for instance, or filling in the o s on a printed page:
“Other people are doodlers. That’s a name we made up back home for people who make foolish designs on paper when they’re thinking. It’s called doodling. Almost everybody’s a doodler.”
For the verb, the OED has a first citation from a 1937 essay that references Capra’s film. The dictionary has nothing for doodler until 1960 (“Poetry is not the free unfettered self-expression of the doodler”), but there it is, in Mr. Deeds’s mouth, back in 1936.

The word missing from Deeds’s explanation: the noun doodle, which the OED defines as “an aimless scrawl made by a person while his mind is more or less otherwise applied.” As for etymology: “compare Low German dudeltopf, -dop, simpleton, noodle, lit. night-cap.”

And — hokey smokes! — the dictionary’s first citation for the noun doodle is from Russell M. Arundel, Everybody’s Pixillated (1937):
“Doodle” is a scribbling or sketch made while the conscious mind is concerned with matters wholely unrelated to the scribbling.
Arundel’s title makes clear that Mr. Deeds Goes to Town did indeed bring doodle into common use.

But wait — there’s more: from Life, May 24, 1937, a two-page spread of doodles.

[Arundel was quite a character.]

Some stamps


[Nancy, October 17, 1950. Click for larger stamps.]

The teacher has suggested that the children take up hobbies. Nancy has chosen philately. Sluggo is training Reggie’s pony.

“Some,” as in “rocks,” is an abiding preoccupation of these pages.

Related reading
All OCA Nancy posts (Pinboard)

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Is it fascism yet?

Former senator Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin), speaking about Donald Trump* and the Department of Homeland Security:

Feingold said both the Trump administration’s actions in Portland and President Trump’s threats to send federal agents to patrol cities with Democratic mayors are part of a “truly dystopian picture” that is worse than anything that was imagined during the George W. Bush administration. These actions, he added, are more appropriate for “a completely lawless country without any protection of the rule of law” than the United States of America.

“This is right out there in the open and is a direct affront to American democracy. People should be able to express their political views consistent with the First Amendment and not be afraid of reprisal from the federal government,” he said. “What I was warning about in 2001 was what would happen if we elected somebody who really didn’t have any respect for our system of government, and that’s where we are today. He [Trump] and his administration are doubling down on the most frightening series of threats that any of us have ever seen in our democracy.”

😱

News, at least to me: Edvard Munch’s The Scream, the basis for the face screaming in fear emoji, may not depict a person screaming. Aiieee!

Thanks, Ben.

Recently updated

A P.S. 131 class picture, 1964–1965 There was much more to my third-grade teacher’s life than met my third-grade eye.

Tom Finn (1948–2020)

Tom Finn, bassist and singer with the Left Banke, died last month at the age of seventy-one.

Here are two songs from The Left Banke Too (1968). Finn wrote them and sings lead: “Nice to See You” and “There’s Gonna Be a Storm.” Baroque pop, yes.

Related posts
Steve Martin Caro (1948–2020) : George Cameron (1947–2018) : What I hear in “Walk Away Renée”

Monday, July 20, 2020

“Have been and will always be”

Germany has invaded France. An unnamed man has fled Paris. He’s stuck in Marseille, living on pizza, rosé, and ersatz coffee.


Anna Seghers, Transit. 1951. Trans. from the German by Margot Bettauer Dembo (New York: New York Review Books, 2013).

The narrator’s reverence for “things that have been and will always be there” reminds me of Holden Caulfield’s affection for museum dioramas: “everything always stayed right where it was.” See also “Ode on a Grecian Urn.”

Seghers’s novel, the basis for the 2018 film of the same name, is a forlorn meditation on contingency and identity. It’s another New York Review Books rediscovery.

This post is for the pizza makers in the fambly. And yes, the most cursory search will confirm that Marseille, still, means pizza.

A related post
Pizza with sardines (Inspired by Transit)

The Oedipus Project

“Arrogant leadership, ignored prophecy, and a pestilence”: Theater of War has created The Oedipus Project, a staged reading (via Zoom) of scenes from Sophocles’s Oedipus. I hope a recording comes online for everyone who, like me, missed it live.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Sped up, or speeded up

The car chase at the end of High Sierra: was the film sped up, or speeded up ?

Garner’s Modern English Usage is on the case:

The best past tense and past-participial form is sped, not *speeded. It has been so since the 17th century. But there’s one exception: the phrasal verb speed up (= to accelerate) <she speeded up to 80 m.p.h.>.
But the GMEU recommendation may have to change as usage changes: the Google Ngram Viewer shows sped up on the rise and speeded up steadily declining.

The Viewer’s peak years for speeded up are 1942 and 1943. High Sierra is from 1941, so let’s say that the film was speeded up.

*

Bryan Garner tells me that he’ll be revising the entry for speed > sped > sped.

[1942, 1943: because of references to wartime production?]

Recently updated

No hoax Now there are charges.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Today’s Saturday Stumper

Today’s Newsday Saturday Stumper is by Brad Wilber, and it’s a tough one. I started with 8-A, eight letters, “St. Thomas, compared to the other US Virgin Islands.” Wrong answer, but at least the last two letters were right, and they sent me on my way. Two answers had me thinking they couldn’t be right, but they were. And so all the answers were right.

Clue-and-answer pairs I especially liked:

12-D, eight letters, “Curb cut beneficiary.” Been there. Will be again, someday.

24-A, six letters, “Pulse quickeners.” No, that can’t be right, I thought. Even after I had the answer, it took me a while to see it. I was expecting a more recognizable plural.

25-D, five letters, “They often keep the change.” Among other things.

30-D, six letters, “Ready for delivery.” I like the indirection.

32-A, five letters, “Mentor of Mozart.” Rudimentary knowledge of classical music pays off.

35-D, four letters, “Showerhead essential.” Here too the answer had me thinking That can’t be right. I have a love-hate relationship with this kind of clue.

43-A, five letters, “Prepares on canvas.” I was thinking of something having to do with gesso. Bob Ross, help!

50-D, five letters, “Justifications for bizarre behavior.” Well, maybe not justifications. Occasions?

63-A, six letters, “Dairy delivery.” And thanks, once again, after many years, to the student who corrected my pronunciation of the answer.

65-A, five letters, “Voyages of the ‘USS Enterprise.’” This clue had me stuck, not because of an admitted lack of Star Trek knowledge but because I didn’t understand the form that the answer took.

And one clue I liked, but whose answer, not at all: 18-A, eight letters, “Backdrop for moonwalks.” I was trying to think of an answer having to do with MTV. Nope.

No spoilers: the answers are in the comments.

John Lewis (1940–2020)

A giant of our country, past, present, and future. The New York Times has an obituary.

From a January conversation with Valerie Jackson for StoryCorps:

“My philosophy is very simple: when you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to stand up, you have to say something, you have to do something. My mother told me over and over again, when I went off to school, not to get in trouble. But I told her I got in good trouble, necessary trouble. Even today, I tell people, ‘We need to get in good trouble.’”
[My transcription.]

Friday, July 17, 2020

“Let’s Work Together,” again

It’s occurred to me that “Let’s Work Together” makes a suitable anthem for these times. The song is by Wilbert Harrison, who recorded it in 1969 as Wilbert Harrison One Man Band. Canned Heat recorded the song later that year with greater success.

And now the Heat has recorded the song again, with William Shatner, for — Lord have mercy — a Shatner blues album. Listen if you dare.

I still think “Let’s Work Together” is right for these times. But I’ll take Wilbert Harrison and Bob “The Bear” Hite over Captain Kirk any day.

Related reading
All OCA Canned Heat posts (Pinboard)

[Extraneous matter: I discovered only recently that the song’s lyrics borrow from two lines of “Don’t Quit,” a poem attributed to Edgar A. Guest, among others: “When things go wrong, as they sometimes will, / When the road you're trudging seems all up hill.”]

Another day in downstate Illinois

From Newsweek : a member of the school board in the town of Shelbyville resigned last night after making racist and homophobic comments on Facebook.

A related post
Where I live

“Hearing an iron rod being sawed”

Another version of the preparations for a nocturnal expedition:


Xavier de Maistre, Nocturnal Expedition Around My Room. 1825. In Voyage Around My Room. Trans. from the French by Stephen Sartarelli (New York: New Directions, 1994).

The passage from “I soon noticed” to “I should certainly have produced a masterpiece” is a deletion from a manuscript. The translator explains that he has included it

because the author himself said in a letter that he had regretted that deletion and that “this jest on the baroque names of Ossian’s heroes is no worse than the rest,” and because I myself found the passage too amusing to relegate to an end note.
Also from de Maistre
“I rarely follow a straight line” “Three steps backwards”

[Whatever Blogger’s limit is for image size, I ran up against it in trying to post this passage as one image. The orator Demosthenes practiced speaking with pebbles in his mouth.]

“Three steps backwards”

New room. No servant, no dog. Xavier de Maistre prepares for a second journey:


Xavier de Maistre, A Nocturnal Expedition Around My Room. 1825. In A Journey Around My Room. Trans. from the French by Andrew Brown (Richmond, UK: Alma Classics, 2013).

This journey includes a theory of infinite worlds (expressed in a single sentence) and a moment of inept flirtation with a beautiful neighbor seen on a nearby balcony (“Lovely weather tonight!”). Wonderful, funny stuff.

*

Later that same morning: As I just discovered, the New Directions edition of de Maistre’s works restores to this passage some sentences that de Maistre regretted deleting. I’ll post that version soon.

*

Here it is.

A related post
A passage from A Journey Around My Room

[Pope: the poet, Alexander. Ossian: the poet-identity attached to James Macpherson’s pastiches of Gaelic poetry.]

Found via Laura Olin’s newsletter: Circular. Draw a circle and see how close you get to perfect. Caution: highly addictive. Hint: the more pixels you put on the screen, the better. Go slow.

I had to check: it was Henry Dreyfuss who liked to draw perfect circles freehand. He designed the Honeywell Round Thermostat, among many other things.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Fauci, mensch

As everyone should already know, Dr. Anthony Fauci is a mensch. This tweet is just one small bit of evidence.

Word of the day: staycation

The Oxford English Dictionary word of the day is staycation, “a holiday spent at home or in one’s country of residence.” Useful for those traveling around their rooms.

The first citation is from an advertisement in The Cincinnati Enquirer, July 18, 1944:

Better tuck a few more bottles of Felsenbrau into the icebox, today . . . Take a Stay-cation instead of a Va-cation, this year. Trains and busses [sic] are crowded.
And now I’m trying to find a familiar 1940s poster: a man taking a staycation, sitting in an easy chair with fan, radio, iced tea, lemonade, dog, and pipe at hand in mouth. I think this man has taken a vacation from his staycation. No, wait — there he is:


[Albert Dorne, “Me travel? . . . not this summer.” 1945. From the University of North Texas Digital Library. Click for a larger view.]

This man was difficult to track down today — a search for stay home poster now returns images with a pandemic theme.

[I find it odd to think of staycation as meaning a holiday “in one’s country of residence,” but the OED has citations with the word used to mean just that. I wrote a description of the poster before rediscovering it and decided to let my mistakes stay in the post.]

“I rarely follow a straight line”


Xavier de Maistre, A Journey Around My Room. 1794. Trans. from the French by Andrew Brown (Richmond, UK: Alma Classics, 2013).

Sentenced to a forty-two-day house arrest for dueling, aristocrat and military officer Xavier de Maistre (1763–1852) made a grand tour of his room, with his dog, his servant, and his imagination to sustain him. A Journey Around My Room is an amusing, unpredictable travelogue, especially appropriate to this time of life indoors. A Nocturnal Expedition Around My Room was to follow in 1825. If you like Laurence Sterne, who, too, refused to follow “a strait line,” you’ll like de Maistre.

The Alma Classics paperback includes both works, as does the beautifully designed New Directions volume Voyage Around My Room (trans. Stephen Sartarelli). For instant gratification, both works are available in an 1829 translation, free from Google Books.

“Bookstores”

Fran Lebowitz, in the documentary film The Booksellers (dir. D.W. Young, 2019):

“You know what they used to call independent bookstores? Bookstores.”

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Word of the day: tea-fire

I thought, for no reason at all, of tea-fire, a word I remembered seeing in an L.L. Bean cookbook. It’s not in the Oxford English Dictionary. It’s in neither the second nor third edition of Webster’s New International. But it’s still right where I read it years ago:

There is something about the ritual of the noon tea-fire that gilds the lily of pleasure on a hunt. Roy [Smith, a trapper] was once genuinely outraged when I, coming in from a lone hunt, confessed that I’d had a dry lunch. “Oh, you must never do that,” said Roy. “A mon must have his hot tea at the noonin’.” He is quite right, of course (and why is it that tea it must be, not coffee?).

Angus Cameron and Judith Jones, The L.L. Bean Game and Fish Cookbook (New York: Random House, 1983).
A tip from Cameron and Jones: “Guides invariably like strong tea.” And a disclaimer from me: I have never hunted and barely fished. My acquaintance with The L.L. Bean Game and Fish Cookbook comes from a time when our household was buying all things Bean.

Google Books returns a small number of additional tea-fires, or tea fires, ranging from 1914 to 1996. The best:
We made breakfast in the willows fringing the creek in the same spot where four days previously, homeward bound, we had halted to build our little tea fire. The place was now full of recent memories.

Hamilton M. Laing, “On the Trail of the Wavies,” Outing, 64, no. 6 (1914).
So cozy! — aside from all the shooting.

Related reading
All OCA tea posts (Pinboard)

[The 2008 Tea Fire began in an abandoned structure known as the Tea House. The wavey is the snow goose.]

What if

Goldie Blumenstyk, a writer for The Chronicle of Higher Education, wonders what might be happening if more college and university administrators “had made the moral case for a remote fall from the outset”:

Would higher ed be in any better shape right now in its quest for at least $47 billion in federal relief — not to mention more robust public support — if more college leaders had spent the past four months being more realistic and candid?

What if more had mentioned the unlikelihood of football this fall, of students’ being able to live safely together in residence halls, or even of holding any but the most necessary classes in person? Will it turn out that leaders’ push for a “normal-ish” fall in the midst of a deadly pandemic — whether motivated by good intentions, political pressure, existential financial fears, or some combination of all three — ultimately undermines their credibility and further damages goodwill?
Blumenstyk makes it plain: “For health and safety reasons, colleges should be predominantly online this fall. For financial reasons, some of them haven’t dared to make that call.”

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

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Airing of grievances

Donald Trump* is having airing of grievances this afternoon. CNN and MSNBC have cut away, but C-SPAN2 soldiers on.

As we all know, Trump* is a teetotaler. But the affect here is that of an angry, drunken elder holding his family hostage at the dinner table.

Trump* is not Captain Queeg, who had self-awareness enough to stop himself mid-rant.

“The craziest postcards”

“When he leaves, the craziest postcards arrive the next day,” says Peter to his girlfriend Lydia about his friend Karlchen, who’s been visiting them in Sweden while they vacation. This time Karlchen has sworn: no postcards. But the day after he leaves, four postcards arrive, each from a different railway station on the way back to Germany.


Kurt Tucholsky, Castle Gripsholm. 1931. Trans. from the German by Michael Hoffman (New York: New York Review Books, 2019).

I love the cheerful lunacy of youth at work or play here. I am reminded of my friend Aldo Carrasco.

Castle Gripsholm is yet one more NYRB rediscovery from Weimar Germany. All is long walks and witty banter and sex, with a pair of lovers who, after the arrival of another visitor, turn into a trio at the drop of a crossword puzzle. But along with the summer fun is a spirited effort to defeat autocracy, at least on a small scale, when a chance encounter offers the opportunity to save a young girl from the evil headmistress of a boarding school. Another NYRB book I recommend with enthusiasm.

[I read “Don’t search” as the start of the third message.]

Trout fishing in America

Tucker Carlson is going away for a while. I hope he has a nice long trip.

Monday, July 13, 2020

A pocket notebook sighting


[From To the Ends of the Earth (dir. Robert Stevenson, 1948). Click either image for a larger page.]

It’s Dick Powell’s notebook, and he’s writing fast and slow. Fast to get down the names he just saw on a hotel register. Slow to get down spots to show visitors in San Franciso.

More notebook sightings
All the King’s Men : Angels with Dirty Faces : Ball of Fire : The Big Clock : Bombshell : The Brasher Doubloon : Cat People : City Girl : Crossing Delancey : Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne : Dead End : The Devil and Miss Jones : Dragnet : Extras : Eyes in the Night : The Face Behind the Mask : Foreign Correspondent : Fury : Homicide : The Honeymooners : The House on 92nd Street : Journal d’un curé de campagne : Kid Glove Killer : The Last Laugh : Le Million : The Lodger : 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 : 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 : Time Table : T-Men : 20th Century Women : Union Station : Walk East on Beacon! : Where the Sidewalk Ends : The Woman in the Window : You Only Live Once

Some votes


[“No Contest.” Zippy, July 13, 2020.]

Which is it better to be, Bogie or Sluggo? In today’s Zippy, Zippy and Griffy try both. In this final panel, the votes are in. Notice “some rocks” yonder in the Bushmiller landscape.

Related reading
All OCA Nancy posts : Nancy and Zippy posts : Zippy posts (Pinboard)

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Sundays

Georg Miermann, editor, and Emil Gohlisch, reporter, talk shop:


Gabriele Tergit, Käsebier Takes Berlin. 1932. Trans. from the German by Sophie Duvernoy (New York: New York Review Books, 2019).

I suspect this exchange might be a joke on the journalistic habit of recycling a familiar premise: it appears that Herr Andor has recycled the premise of the wonderful film Menschen am Sonntag [People on Sunday] (dir. Robert Siodmark and Edgar G. Ulmer, 1930). Herr Andor has also written, more than once, about “The Last Horse-Cart Driver.” Recall in our time continued media attention to shoe and typewriter repairpersons.

Käsebier Takes Berlin is yet another NYRB rediscovery. It’s a sharp satire of fad as culture in Weimar Germany, with an unremarkable singer named Käsebier becoming the inspiration for everything from fountain pens to a Weimar version of Hudson Yards.

A related post
People on Sunday

[The exchange between Miermann and Gohlisch takes place in 1929. Menschen am Sonntag was released on February 4, 1930. So the chronology is off. But I still think it likely that Tergit, writing in 1931, was making a joke on the film and that a reader in 1932 would have taken Andor’s story as inspired by Menschen am Sonntag. A Borgesian possibility: Siodmark and Ulmer got hold of the fictional Andor’s unpublished story and took it as the inspiration for their film.]

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Donald Trump*, desperado

Donald Trump* is a desperado, “one in despair or in desperate straits.” He is also a desperado, “a bold or violent criminal.” Commuting Roger Stone’s sentence is the act of a desperado.

I think there are two possible explanations of this commutation.

One: In despair or in desperate straits, afraid that Stone might seek a reduced sentence by spilling some beans and making more difficulties for the November election, Trump* issued a commutation. Commuting the sentence of someone who has lied to protect you: about as bold as it gets.

Two: In despair or in desperate straits, knowing that he will never be reelected and not caring what people make of his action, Trump* issued a commutation. Commuting the sentence of someone who has lied to protect you: again, about as bold as it gets.

But to be in despair is to have lost hope, and I’m not sure I can imagine Donald Trump* as having ever been humble enough to have hoped. But he’s still a desperado. And he’s never coming to his senses.

[Definitions from Webster’s Third. Thanks to George Bodmer for snapping me out of a trance by reminding me that it was a commutation, not a pardon.]

Today’s Saturday Stumper

Today’s Newsday Saturday Stumper is by Andrew Bell Lewis. Nearly every ABL Stumper I’ve done has been on the difficult side. This puzzle too — a word here, a word here. Thirty-three minutes later, I had all the words.

Some clue-and-answer pairs I look upon with favor:

12-D, ten letters, “Symbol of simple living.”

15-A, eight letters, “Focus of a Buenos Aires museum.” Just weird. I heard the answer yesterday, in a BBC Radio Great Lives episode about Jorge Luis Borges. But it would have been easy enough to get anyway.

18-A, six letters, “‘He IS American music,’ per Kern.” Well, yes, he is. But so are Louis Armstrong, the Carter Family, Charley Patton, Jimmie Rodgers, &c.

25-A, eight letters, “Drop-off spot.” I was trying to think of something having to do with kids and school. No.

38-D, eight letters, “What makes flamingos pink.” I don’t know how I know, but I do.

40-A, nine letters, “Austronesian transportation invention.” Again, looking up a word years ago pays off.

45-D, six letters, “Gum for the office.” Yeah. Heck yeah.

47-D, five letters, “Onset of evening.” Eh, a little forced. But there’s something I like about clues whose answers I don’t understand until some time after solving.

52-D, four letters, “Swimmer or blister.” A bit of a stretch, but I like the defamiliarization.

64-A, eight letters, “Faux glow.” Ick.

My favorite clue in today’s puzzle: 59-A, eight letters, “Pawn’s purpose.” Pretty clever.

And one clue whose answer is unpersuasive: 62-A, eight letters, “The ultimate scholarship.” I think it’s more commonly called something else.

No spoilers: the answers are in the comments.

*

After the fact: I figured out from a reference to “Brad and Matt” (here) that “Andrew Bell Lewis” is Matthew Sewell and Brad Wilber. Look at their last names.

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.]

Misheard

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.