Saturday, October 24, 2020

Mail early in the day, today

I don’t know that it's true everywhere, but if you’re voting by mail, it would be wise to assume it’s true.

And as they used to say, mail early in the day, so that your ballot doesn’t sit in a mailbox till Monday.

The Lincoln Project, whatever the backstory, is doing great work in this election. The Times Square billboards are aptly brutal. And the Kushner–Trump threat to sue has now given those billboards more prominence than they would have had otherwise.

Today’s Saturday Stumper

Today’s Newsday Saturday Stumper is by Greg Johnson. It’s a solid sender.

I looked at the shape of things: twelve-, thirteen-, and fourteen-letter answers across. Uh-oh. I looked at 1-A, twelve letters, “Low-altitude airborne pollutant” and 1-D, five letters, “Silas Marner exclamation.” Uh-oh. But I found a start in 26-A, three letters, “Fabled ready-for-winter creature.” And another: 31-A, three letters, “Pontiac clubber’s pride.” And those two gave me 20-D, six letters, “They have big food bills.” So there’s my secret strategy: look for clues whose answers I can fill in. I ended up where I began, with the first three Across clues. Tough stuff.

Some clue-and-answer pairs I especially liked:

18-A, four letters, “One often stuck in traffic.” TAXI? No.

35-D, five letters, “Hairpin stealing, circa 1885.” Yes, it’s true. The kids yesterday. . . .

62-D, three letters, “Parallel line part.” I always like seeing a junky answer redeemed by its clue.

63-A, thirteen letters, “Got ticketed.” Dang clever.

64-A, twelve letters, “Urban survival skill.” But I’m not sure it’s a skill. More a state of mind, I’d say.

Nits to pick: 13-A, thirteen letters, “It’s stalked in the kitchen.” Not in this kitchen. And the obligatory cryptic clue in this puzzle is just a rAW FULcrum — in other words, too contrived.

My favorite in this puzzle: 15-A, fourteen letters, “Oxymoronic appliance.” Yes, it is oxymoronic. And I used one for years, a gift from my fambly.

No spoilers: the answers are in the comments.

Four panels, “some rocks”

[A first panel. Bliss, October 23, 2020.]

Thanks to George Bodmer, who draws Oscar’s Portrait, for passing on yesterday’s Bliss.

“Some rocks” are an abiding preoccupation of these pages.

Friday, October 23, 2020

The death tour

From USA Today:

As President Donald Trump jetted across the country holding campaign rallies during the past two months, he didn’t just defy state orders and federal health guidelines. He left a trail of coronavirus outbreaks in his wake.

The president has participated in nearly three dozen rallies since mid-August, all but two at airport hangars. A USA Today analysis shows COVID-19 cases grew at a faster rate than before after at least five of those rallies in the following counties: Blue Earth, Minnesota; Lackawanna, Pennsylvania; Marathon, Wisconsin; Dauphin, Pennsylvania; and Beltrami, Minnesota.

Together, those counties saw 1,500 more new cases in the two weeks following Trump’s rallies than the two weeks before — 9,647 cases, up from 8,069.
Trump* = death. Literally.

Masks, freedom, and
toxic masculinity

From a brief interview with Anand Giridharadas about the American aversion to masks:

I think the expectation of invulnerability in men is quite universal.

But the idea of “freedom from” is an American obsession — freedom from the government and so on. But freedom to — to be able to eat or to pursue your dreams — we’re much blinder to those types of freedoms, which political philosophers call positive freedom.

I think that “freedom from” obsession results in this feeling that government is emasculating.

The common sense exertion of public institutions to protect people makes many American men feel weakened, as though faceless bureaucrats are doing for their family what maybe they feel like they should be doing for their family instead.
Related posts
Andrew Cuomo, Edward Gibbon, Edith Hamilton, Margaret Thatcher, and “freedom from” : Huck Finn and “freedom from” : Sociopathy unmasked : “You wear a mask”

On the crisis in the humanities

Jon Baskin and Anastasia Berg, writing in The New York Times:

No one should minimize the impact of the closing and contracting of humanities departments and liberal arts colleges on students, professors and staffs. And, to be sure, there remains scholarly work that requires the resources and support that today only a university can provide. But the case for humanistic education should never rest solely on the survival of these institutions. This means the “crisis” cannot be adequately described either by the number of openings on the academic job market, or the number of Great Books on university syllabuses. The health of the humanities should be measured instead by whether our society provides ample opportunities for its citizens to ask the fundamental questions about the good life and the just society.

By that yardstick, it seems, the humanities are healthier than the doomsayers might lead us to believe.

In recent months, in the midst of a pandemic, a protest movement and a presidential election season, millions of Americans have gravitated to online reading groups and book clubs, attended Zoom panels on the burdens of history and the meaning of open discourse, watched philosophy lectures on YouTube and flocked to longform, humanistic magazines (as editors of one of them, The Point, we can attest that our readership has nearly doubled since March). Those who truly care about the future of the humanities, as opposed to the viability of certain career paths, might begin by seeing such public-facing pursuits as central, rather than ancillary, to their mission.
I’m sympathetic to Berg and Baskin’s argument. As the formal study of literature continues to wane, small group efforts (assisted, often, by digital technology) will become increasingly important to the work of serious reading. “Houses of reading,” to use George Steiner’s phrase, need not be classrooms.

Two related posts
Book clubs and the Internets : George Steiner on reading

How to improve writing (no. 89)

A sentence from a New York Review Books e-mail:

Thomas Tryon’s The Other narrates the tale of two identical twins, one of whom begins to terrorize the peaceful New England town that they call home.
I first thought Omit needless words :
Thomas Tryon’s The Other narrates the tale of two identical twins, one of whom begins to terrorize the peaceful New England town that they call home.
But wait a sec — what if it’s a tale of a town’s worth of identical twins? The village of the twins! The context for this sentence is an e-mail devoted to horror and science-fiction, so anything is possible, no?

But wait another sec — the phrase “one of whom” pretty clearly suggests that the story is about two twins.

But wait one more sec — without “two, perhaps there’s still a slight risk of misreading before one gets to “one of whom.” Okay, leave it in.

I would like to think that the writer of the sentence went through the same process of overthinking that I just did. Sometimes writing can be improved by going back to what you had. Not every improvement is an improvement.

This sentence got Elaine and me to thinking about the word pair. Why say “a pair of shoes”? They’re just shoes, right? Only sometimes. An everyday shopper buys “a pair of shoes.” Imelda Marcos bought “shoes.”

Related reading
All OCA “How to improve writing” posts

[I read The Other for my tenth-grade English class. It was good then. Would it still be good now? And how many shoes are “some shoes”? This post is no. 89 in a series dedicated to improving stray bits of public prose.]

Thursday, October 22, 2020


“They are so well taken care of”: Donald Trump*, in tonight’s debate, speaking of the 545 children taken from their parents at the United States–Mexico border, parents who cannot now be found.

We know who Donald Trump* is. But it’s still, always, shocking to see it so clearly. Any parent — any person — should shudder at this president’s utter lack of empathy.


Donald Trump*, interviewed by Lesley Stahl for 60 Minutes: “When I finish, this country will be in a position like it hasn’t been maybe ever.”

Yes, exactly.

You can watch this interview, or some edited version of it, on Trump*’s Facebook page. Ten minutes in, I’ve seen nothing but falsehoods, distortions, and endless repetition: we got hit, we got it, we saved millions of lives, we saved millions of lives, we just picked up 11.4 million jobs, we just picked up 11.4 million jobs, the check is in the mail, the check is in the mail. No water drinking yet. But it’s fascinating to see Trump* working up his serious face as the interview begins.

[Look, it’s in the mail. I put it in the mail days ago, okay? Days ago. If you have a problem, take it up with your mailman. Not with me.]

“What should I do until then?”

[Zippy, October 22, 2020.]

Today’s Zippy poses an urgent question. Griffy explains that he has to keep Zippy “offstage & blindfolded” while awaiting the end of one “long national nightmare” or the start of a nightmare even worse.

What to do in the next twelve days? I’ve voted, and I’ve given all the money to candidates that I can. I will follow the news, some of it, and try to remind myself that CNN and MSNBC seek to intensify angst.

Also: read, write, walk, do FaceTime, and listen to music. And have a glass of wine, a bottle of beer, or two ounces of Scotch at night. Reading includes the comics and Robertson Davies’s The Cornish Trilogy. Music includes The Harry Smith B-Sides. Scotch means Glenmorangie.

How do you plan to get through the next twelve days?

A Langston Hughes Zoom event

Jameatris Rimkus, archivist, presents “The Mystery Recordings of Langston Hughes: A Poet Visits the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign,” Thursday, November 5, 12:00 p.m.–1:00 p.m. CST. Registration is free, via this link.

The mystery recordings, found in a box in the University Archives, are of Hughes reading his work for a live audience. The only documentation: the recordings were made by WILL Radio. But the archivist is on the case.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

“What? What?”

Whatever our current misery, I feel fortunate to have had eight years of life with this man as president. And to have him campaigning for Joe Biden now. Barack Obama, a few minutes ago at a drive-in rally in Philadelphia:

“You’ll be able to go about your lives knowing that the president is not going to retweet conspiracy theories about secret cabals running the world or that Navy SEALs didn’t actually kill Bin Laden. Think about that. The president of the United States retweeted that. Imagine. What? What?”
Honk! Honk!

A repurposed caption

[Cartoon by Lars Kenseth. The New Yorker, September 21, 2020. Caption by me. Click for a larger view.]

I thought it might be fun to repurpose the caption from a recent New Yorker cartoon by Teresa Burns Parkhurst. So I looked at recent cartoons from the magazine’s Cartoon Caption Contest. The Burns caption fits this cartoon well. This one too, kinda sorta. But the cartoon above, from a few weeks back, is a perfect loopy fit.

The New Yorker offers no prize to winners of its Contest. And certainly not to someone captioning after the fact with borrowed goods. I am therefore awarding myself a small plate of crackers with peanut butter, and a small glass of Silk on the side, to be consumed as a midafternoon snack.

The canonical all-purpose captions for New Yorker cartoons — “Christ, what an asshole!” and “What a misunderstanding!” — would work well here too. But I wanted to make something out of the blue.


[Zits, October 21, 2020.]

As D’ijon explained in yesterday’s Zits, Pierce is “experimenting with conformity.” But it’s not just his appearance that’s changed. Look at his speech balloon: he’s sounding like the old Mark Trail. And from Monday’s strip:

[Zits, October 19, 2020. Click either image for a larger view.]

I have to think Pierce’s whom is meant for laughs. Notice also his wristwatch.

Related reading
A handful of Zits posts

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The Old Landmark

Elaine called it first. Fourth and Bowery: we were there, at that corner, last summer, on foot, on our way to see an exhibit of Joe Brainard’s collages, drawings, and paintings. In the time of Naked City, the corner establishment, 359 Bowery, was The Old Landmark Bar and Restaurant. The Old Landmark appears in at least four Naked City episodes.

[Detective James Halloran (James Franciscus) pays a visit in search of information. “Line of Duty,” October 14, 1958. Click any image for a larger view.]

[Halloran again. “Beyond Truth,” April 7, 1959. In this episode the interior seems to be that of another establishment.]

“Killer with a Kiss” gives good glimpses of the Bowery to the south of The Landmark (the 7 Up sign) and north. Look — there’s the Five Spot Café, at 5 Cooper Square. Even if you don’t know jazz history, you might know the Five Spot from Frank O’Hara’s poem “The Day Lady Died.” By 1960 a sign with the establishment’s name had replaced the generic BAR & GRILL visible in “Line of Duty.” And by 1960 one or more buildings across 4th Street had been torn down for a parking lot.

[“Killer with a Kiss,” November 16, 1960. A drinker inspired by a missionary’s zeal pours out what’s left in her bottle. Burt Brinckerhoff, a near ringer for Anthony Perkins, plays a psychokiller posing as a blind pedestrian, waiting to cross the Bowery.]

Here’s a last glimpse of The Old Landmark. I like the tattered awning, a nice urban touch.

[“Bridge Party,” December 27, 1961.]

Not only were we walking the Bowery last summer: we had lunch last summer at the establishment that now stands where The Old Landmark stood, Phebe’s Tavern and Grill. It was a lovely place for lunch, brick walls, an old wood floor, salmon burger, quinoa salad.

Here’s a post from an East Village-centric blog with some photographs of The Landmark. Dig the businessman’s lunch menu — quite a ways from salmon and quinoa. According to this post, The Old Landmark was in business in 1910. According to the New York City Municipal Archives (see below), this building dates to 1920.

And here’s one final look at The Old Landmark, as it appeared not in Naked City but in real life:

[From the New York City Municipal Archives Online Gallery, 1939–1941. Click for a larger view.]

The 29-DVD set of Naked City, all four seasons, is still available. A great value in television.

Related reading
All OCA Naked City posts (Pinboard)

Thank you, Brian and Al

“We have absolutely nothing to do with the Trump benefit today in Newport Beach”: Brian Wilson and Al Jardine disavow a Donald Trump* benefit put on by Mike Love’s touring version of the Beach Boys (Variety ).

Mike Love is just so gross.

Lighting and me

I finally realized why I get so much spam mail about lighting fixtures. Look at my last name.

[L-e-d, as in LED.]

Monday, October 19, 2020

Jeffrey Toobin, exposed

From the New York Daily News:

Journalist Jeffrey Toobin has been suspended from the New Yorker after exposing himself during a Zoom call, according to a report. Sources told VICE that Toobin was suspended while an investigation is conducted. The incident reportedly occurred during a call between workers at the New Yorker and WNYC radio, in which the prolific writer allegedly showed his penis. “I made an embarrassingly stupid mistake, believing I was off-camera," Toobin, who’s 60, said in a statement to VICE. "I apologize to my wife, family, friends and co-workers.”
I was going to say that there’s always been something about Jeffrey Toobin that rubs me the wrong way, but I think I’ll just step back from that joke. Toobin has, though, always seemed to me a tad arrogant, more than a bit of a mansplainer in his CNN appearances. Now he really has some mansplaining to do. “I thought I was off-camera” is a pretty limp excuse.


It’s worse. I’ll add that I made that rub-the-wrong-way joke before the full extent of Toobin’s folly was known.

Afterthought: “Toobin’s folly” would make a nice euphemism for something or other.

A related post
How to improve writing (no. 80) (A Toobin sentence)

“Orange Crate Shark”

I downloaded the Google app to try its new song-recognition feature. Just hum, and the app tells you the song. I often have unidentifiable bits of music popping into my head. For instance. And more recently, this little phrase for strings. I’m a capable hummer. So I thought the Google app might be useful to me.

I tried humming. I started with “Orange Crate Art.” The Google app identified it as “Baby Shark.”

Okay, something easier.

The Google app turned “Old McDonald” into “Death Grips” by Ha Ha Ha. Yes, really. Honest.

For “Take the ‘A’ Train” it had nothing.

A minute or so later the app was gone from my phone.

In Wisconsin

I was in Wisconsin, in the town of Da Vinci (so spelled), watching a protest at a Vietnamese restaurant. About what or whom, I didn’t know. Someone threw a brick through the window. Instead of shattering the window, it made a large, perfectly cut circle.

My dreams during the Great Pause have veered from the mundane (buying groceries) to the bizarre (a talking squirrel). This dream seems too much drawn from waking life.

Related reading
All OCA dream posts (Pinboard)

Sunday, October 18, 2020

“This is not normal”

Amy Siskind’s select list of norms Donald Trump* and his administration have violated, week by week by week: “This is not normal” (The Washington Post).

A message to Senator Doodyhead

I left a message for David Perdue (R-GA), who was in the news this week. Here’s what I left on the senator’s contact page:

Dear Senator Perdue:

I was appalled by your recent mockery of Kamala Harris's first name. It smacked of junior-high immaturity and cruelty. The racism implicit in your mockery of an unfamiliar name was unmistakable. And yet how unfamiliar to you is Senator Harris's name anyway? You have served with her in the Senate for several years.

As someone whose name so readily lends itself to mockery — David Perdoodoo, David Doody, perhaps even David Doodyhead — you should be aware of how inappropriate such mockery is, especially when one moves beyond junior high.

Be best, &c.
[My name too. My dad and I, across the generations, both endured Ledhead. Or was it Leadhead? I never asked about the spelling.]

Nancy and Japan

In today’s Nancy, Olivia Jaimes offers a performative commentary on Japanese comics.

Related reading
All OCA Nancy posts (Pinboard)

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Ed Benguiat (1927–2020)

The graphic designer Ed Benguiat has died at the age of ninety-two. From the New York Times obituary:

“Music is placing sounds, to me, in their proper order so they’re pleasing to the ear. What is graphic design? Placing things in their proper order so they’re pleasing to the eye.”
Benguiat’s Interlock has made several appearances in these pages.

Today’s Saturday Stumper

Today’s Newsday Saturday Stumper is by “Anna Stiga,” or Stan Again, Stanley Newman, the puzzle’s editor. It looks intimidating, with stacks of fourteen-, fifteen-, and fifteen-letter answers top and bottom. But look, there’s an opening: 18-A, three letters, “Lentil cousin.” And another: 22-A, four letters, “Internal motivation.” And things began to fall into place. I found some moments of difficulty in the southeast quarter. For instance, 44-D, three letters, “Restraining order”? That’s tricky, especially if you’re uncertain how to spell 51-A, five letters, “Asia’s highest major city.”

Some clue-and-answer pairs I especially liked:

7-D, six letters, “Cause precipitation.” Nice misdirection, Ms. Stiga.

33-A, eight letters, “OK to drive.” Is it clever, really? I think it’s clever.

50-D, six letters, “Put to the test.” Aah, put. Present tense, or past? And what kind of test?

55-A, four letters, “Up.” AWAK —? No.

58-A, three letters, “Get close to, in quantity.” I think that should be in number, but I still like the twist.

The funnest fifteen-letter clue in today’s puzzle: 61-A, “Secret thing since the ’50s.” But my favorite clue in today’s puzzle is 54-D, five letters, “Late spring/early summer tag phrase.” So simple once you see it, though it may take a while to see it.

No spoilers: the answers are in the comments.

Friday, October 16, 2020


The song is “New World Coming” (Barry Mann–Cynthia Weil). My guess is that too many people won’t know the singer. She is Nina Simone.

Sally Foster Wallace (1938–2020)

This news appears to have gone unremarked beyond a local obituary: Sally Foster Wallace, teacher and writer, has died at the age of eighty-two. Her husband, the philosopher James Wallace, died in 2019. David Foster Wallace was their son.

Sally Foster Wallace’s Practically Painless English (1980) is a textbook noteworthy for the loopy humor of its sample sentences. Three random samples:

George is upset because his father thinks he lied about the cherry tree.

Rats! My wig has burst into flames again! Help!

The big fish kept out of trouble because he shut his mouth and stayed in school.
And from an exercise in commas:
You set fire to the pizza[,] didn’t you?

“End Our National Crisis”

“Donald Trump’s re-election campaign poses the greatest threat to American democracy since World War II”: The New York Times today has published a special Opinion section, “End Our National Crisis: The Case Against Donald Trump.”

Naked City playground

[From the Naked City episode “Saw My Baby There,” June 9, 1959. Click any image for a larger view. And to the girl in the first picture: stop looking at the camera!]

Swings, seesaws, slide — the only thing missing is the monkey bars.

That playground could be anywhere in mid-century New York. Those swings, like the sinks and toilets in prisons, are made to resist damage. A thoughtful parent might lay down a diaper or towel before seating a child on the metal surface. I speak from experience.

[Me, in a playground at 43rd Street and New Utrecht Avenue, Brooklyn, 1957.]

Related reading
All OCA Naked City posts (Pinboard)

Thursday, October 15, 2020

I’ll say!

Maria Magdalena Theotoky, graduate student:

Robertson Davies, The Rebel Angels (1981).

The Rebel Angels is the first novel of The Cornish Trilogy.

Related reading
All OCA Robertson Davies posts (Pinboard)

A little help?

[Teresa Burns Parkhurst, The New Yorker, October 14, 2020.]

Yesterday’s Daily Cartoon baffles me. “Let’s go back home — none of them are turning blue”: has this couple been traveling through a red state? campaigning for a Democratic candidate?

“A little help?” is what we used to say when a basketball rolled away to an adjacent court. People playing basketball probably still say it. So I’ll say it here: A little help? What’s going on in this cartoon?

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

“The antithesis”

“He’s like the antithesis of public health”: Dr. Irwin Redlener of Columbia University, speaking of you-know-who on MSNBC a few minutes ago.

Tackling with chutzpah

From a New York Times review of Christophe Honoré’s stage adaptation of Marcel Proust’s The Guermantes Way :

Not only does it takes chutzpah to tackle Proust’s magnum opus, whose meandering style has wrong-footed many film and stage directors, but Honoré ups the ante by dispensing with the first two books.
What I first noticed: the profusion of clichés. After which I paused to take issue with “meandering style.” Merriam-Webster: “Meander implies a winding or intricate course suggestive of aimless or listless wandering.” Proust’s prose is neither aimless nor listless. It was only after copying and pasting the review sentence into this post that I noticed takes, which has stood in the review since October 8.

Also: the narrator’s family never had “a stay with the Guermantes in Paris.” They had an apartment in the Hôtel de Guermantes.

Related reading
All OCA Proust posts (Pinboard)

“The Problems of a President”

The Reverend Simon Darcourt has been visiting his colleague Ozias Froats, who studies not faces but faeces, human faeces.

Robertson Davies, The Rebel Angels (1981).

The Oxford English Dictionary confirms that at least most of these names for animal faeces are real. Watch your step.

The Rebel Angels is the first novel of The Cornish Trilogy.

Related reading
All OCA Robertson Davies posts (Pinboard)

[Collect: “a short prayer comprising an invocation, petition, and conclusion. Specifically, often capitalized : one preceding the eucharistic Epistle and varying with the day” (Merriam-Webster).]

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Fifty PBS shows

In The New York Times, appreciations of fifty PBS shows that have made “a lasting imprint on our culture.” Reading through, I realize that I’ve watched a lot of children’s television: I’m happy to see Ghostwriter and Wishbone among the fifty. And I’m happy to see the very funny bilingual comedy ¿Qué Pasa, U.S.A.? And look: PBS has a page for that show, with several episodes.

Naked City Mongols

Whichever side of the law you’re on, the Mongol is the pencil of choice in the Naked City.

[Henry Casso as a numbers runner. James Franciscus, Harry Bellaver, and John McIntire as Detective Jimmy Halloran, Detective Frank Arcaro, and Lieutenant Dan Muldoon. From the Naked City episode “Ten Cent Dreams,” March 10, 1959. Click either image for a larger view.]

I missed these Mongols the first time around. Other Naked City Mongols: here, here, and here. When I was a kid, the Mongol was the pencil of choice in our family. Still my favorite pencil.

Related reading
All OCA Mongol posts and Naked City posts (Pinboard)

Monday, October 12, 2020


On The 11th Hour, Brian Williams just characterized Republican distancing from Donald Trump* as a Great Migration and “a family trip to Africa.”

Related reading
All OCA metaphor posts (Pinboard)

“Illinois has no place to go”

Thus said our president this morning on Twitter. And he’s right. We’re hemmed in by other states: Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Kentcky, Missouri, Iowa. There is Lake Michigan, but Illinois can’t squeeze in there. Truly, our state has no place to go.

Except to the polls, to vote this president out.

George Floyd in high school

The Washington Post continues its series on how systemic racism shaped George Floyd’s life. The focus in today’s article is education, in high school and college. From a description of life at Jack Yates High School in Houston:

In Floyd’s senior year of high school, 21 percent of the juniors and seniors at Yates who took the mandatory state test passed all three sections, compared with 43 percent in the district and 54 percent statewide. About half the class took college entrance exams, but almost no one scored at a college-ready level.

It was a school where many students came from poor families, with little support at home, and where teachers were flooded with students with significant needs. So it was that students like Floyd, good kids who didn’t cause problems, could skate through academically, able to do the minimum. . . .

For top athletes at Yates, things were easier — for Floyd and also for Dexter Manley, the former Washington Redskins star who graduated in 1977 even though he was unable to read or write.

“One thing about athletes, at every level there were people to help you,” Manley said in an interview. “Because football is king in Texas — I mean king — that means those faculty are going to work with the head football coaches. They’re going to give you the support. They’re going to give me the help.”

Teachers asked little of him, he said, satisfied that he turned up for class and even that he sat toward the front. “You’re getting a lot of credit for attendance,” Manley said. He laughed when asked if he ever was asked to write a paper, and said he’d get “help” from girlfriends on tests.

Near the end of his all-pro career, Manley testified before a Senate panel on education that he had been illiterate through high school and college. He struggled to read his statement. “The only thing that really made me feel good in schools was athletics,” he said through tears. “That built self-esteem and some self-worth in Dexter Manley. Other than that, I had no identity.”

“You didn’t fail, sir,” Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) told him. “The system failed you.”

Four months later, George Floyd started high school in that same system.
A related post

Brooklyn, represent

I called the assisted-living place to reserve the gazebo for a visit with my mom. “You sound just like her,” the staff member said.

I have long known that I sound just like my dad. Plumbers, when I would answer my dad’s business phone: “Oh, jeez, you sound just like your father.” But yesterday marks the first time anyone has told me that I sound just like my mother.

As the staff member went on to say, she meant my accent, or alleged accent. Students, too, used to tell me sometimes: “I love your accent.” Only people from elsewhere have accents, of course.

The Brooklyn lives loudly within me.

[That final sentence is meant to ring a bell.]

“Red meets black, you’re okay, Jack”

[Mark Trail, October 12, 2020. Click for a larger view.]

Mark Trail has a new artist. Her name is Jules Rivera. She calls herself Mark Trail’s new dad. Here’s an article about the change.

Yes, that’s a camcorder, not a phone, in Cherry Trail’s hands, which I think must be a joke at the expense of the early aughts.


And now I’m surprised to see that news of the switch made The New York Times in September.

Related reading
All OCA Mark Trail posts (Pinboard)

Sunday, October 11, 2020

A precept from Paracelsus

It’s National Coming Out Day. And by chance, I read this sentence this afternoon, in Robertson Davies’s The Rebel Angels (1981), where it’s attributed to Paracelsus:

Be not another if thou canst be thyself.

Man and Superman

The New York Times reports on a Donald Trump* scheme:

In several phone calls last weekend from the presidential suite at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Mr. Trump shared an idea he was considering: When he left the hospital, he wanted to appear frail at first when people saw him, according to people with knowledge of the conversations. But underneath his button-down dress shirt, he would wear a Superman T-shirt, which he would reveal as a symbol of strength when he ripped open the top layer. He ultimately did not go ahead with the stunt.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Bikes and birds

A former Trump* White House official speaks:

“They aren’t even considering what happens when he’s feeling worse than he’s feeling now, when he’s hopped up full of steroids and other performance enhancers. He’s on the sort of drugs you’d see with a Tour de France rider in the mid-’90s!” Another way to say this, the former White House official said, was that the president is “hopped up on more drugs than a Belgian racing pigeon.” In keeping with the bird theme, this person said the president’s illness was proof that “the chickens are coming home to roost.”

Today’s Saturday Stumper

Today’s Newsday Saturday Stumper, by Matthew Sewell, is a really good one, meaning 1. that I could solve it, and 2. that I could solve it in about twenty-four minutes. Some giveaways, some stumpish clues, some surprises and weirdness and fun. I started with a giveaway: 1-D, three letters, “It had 300+ campus chapters in ’69.” Only one possible answer, really, for that clue, even if the answer was a little before my time.

Some clue-and-answer pairs I especially liked:

5-D, five letters, “Hand-made props.” Stumpish.

8-D, four letters, “Talk follower or preceder.” Surprising.

24-A, seven letters, “Guys set for life.” I was thinking STATUES, though the clock is ticking, or has ticked, for so many of them — and rightly so.

26-A, four letters, “Chica, brevemente.” Maybe a giveaway, but the clue redeems the crosswordese.

27-D, four letters, “Either of two in the Bluetooth logo.” So that’s what they are! So much fun with shorter answers in this puzzle.

33-A, nine letters, “Swing shift?” I was thinking hours.

41-A, five letters, “Upsize, say.” I did not see this one coming.

One clue that made me wince: 45-A, three letters, “Pronoun in Hiroshima.” There’s a place name that should be off-limits for wordplay, I’d say.

And one clue that leaves me baffled: 32-A, four letters, “Suspended course.”

Huh? Wha? No spoilers: the answers are in the comments.

Newman speaks

[“A Message from Your Friendly Local Mail Carrier.” From PACRONYM.]

I’m not sure that it strikes just the right tone, but I can’t resist sharing it.

While I was sleeping

Earlier this morning, Orange Crate Art had its two millionth visitor, from Istanbul, visiting a post about the Mayflower Coffee Shop(pe). Yay.

I suspect that the visitor was seeking to clarify a reference in Frank O’Hara’s poem “Music.” Google “mayflower coffee shoppe ” and my post should be the first result.

It was mid-afternoon in Istanbul when someone there found the post. The Internet, it’s a wonderful thing.

Friday, October 9, 2020

A commercial to go with it

David Plouffe’s description of Donald Trump*: “A spray-tanned, drugged-up pitchman for Regeneron.” Now there’s a TV commercial. Or a “TV commercial.”

[Plouffe’s words: yesterday, on MSNBC.]

“I might as well”

Maria Magdalena Theotoky is a graduate student at Spook, the College of St. John and Holy Ghost. She has signed up for New Testament Greek with a professor she calls Prof. the Rev., Simon Darcourt. Prof. the Rev. is checking his students’ Latin skills by asking for a translation of a short passage. It forms the motto, he says, for the work of his seminar: “Conloqui et conridere et vicissim benevole obsequi, simul leger libros dulciloquos, simul nugari et simul honestari.“ Maria is the only woman in the class of five. And she is the only student who can provide a translation.

Robertson Davies, The Rebel Angels (1981).

The Rebel Angels is the first novel of The Cornish Trilogy. Only one-thousand-and-something pages to go!

Related reading
All OCA Robertson Davies posts (Pinboard)

[The source for the passage: book 4, chapter 8. Augustine is describing pleasures with friends.]

Thursday, October 8, 2020

A concise description

“A spray-tanned, drugged-up pitchman for Regeneron”: on MSNBC, David Plouffe just offered this concise description of Donald Trump* on the White House lawn yesterday.


Oh, look: now there’s a TV commercial.

Recently updated

Opportunities A Washington Post article about how systemic racism shaped George Floyd’s life has more on Floyd’s time in college. There are more articles to come. The next one is to be all about education.

Sluggo, the Sultan of Swat

[Nancy, May 19, 1950. Click for a larger view.]

There’s a Nancy for every occasion. Get on that stage, Sluggo, and give Mike Pence what for.

Thanks to Chris at Dreamers Rise for this strip.

Related reading
All OCA Nancy posts (Pinboard)

[Post title with apologies to George Herman Ruth Jr.]

Cursive is good for you

Psychology Today reports on new research suggesting that cursive is good for your brain:

Data analysis showed that cursive handwriting primed the brain for learning by synchronizing brain waves in the theta rhythm range (4-7 Hz) and stimulating more electrical activity in the brain's parietal lobe and central regions. . . .

The latest (2020) research on the brain benefits of cursive handwriting adds to a growing body of evidence and neuroscience-based research on the importance of learning to write by hand.
Related reading
All OCA handwriting posts (Pinboard)

Reality just got a little weirder

I’m not linking, but I just read that Stormy Daniels (yes, that Stormy Daniels) will be conducting a paranormal investigation at a nearby location, once a poorhouse, later a psychiatric hospital. Tickets are $75.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Advice from Colbert

Stephen Colbert just now, offering advice to Susan Page, the moderator of tonight’s debate:

“Susan, if you want to make Mike Pence shut up, you have to ask him to say ‘Black lives matter.’”

I feel sorry for Daniel Dale

Oh, the work of a legit fact-checker. My fact-checking of Mike Pence can be much more casual. No. No. No again. Nope. False, I’m afraid. Uh-uh. No, not that one neither.


Kamala Harris was impressive. Though Pence seemed to be using up more time, CNN clocked the candidates as virtually equal. I think Harris was able to turn Pence’s endlessness against him: she waited as he went on and on, then insisted on time to respond, and, in so doing, had the last word in a number of exchanges. I believe that rhetorical strategy is known as rope-a-dope.

Two posts in retrospect

I spent a little time today going through recent OCA posts in Pinboard, having finally decided that I had to tag some of them with pandemic. Two of those posts look newly strange:

~ in a March 6 post, I linked to a Borowitz Report citing Donald Trump* as “the source of the community spread of coronavirus misinformation throughout the United States.” That was satire. And now in October, the Cornell Alliance for Science has identified Trump* as the “single largest driver” of misinformation about COVID-19.

~ In a March 9 post about Trump*’s paranoia and magical thinking, I quoted the journalist Gabriel Sherman:

Last week Trump told aides he’s afraid journalists will try to purposefully contract coronavirus to give it to him on Air Force One, a person close to the administration told me.
Given such dark imaginings, can we rule out the possibility that Trump* might have been hoping, even if vaguely, to infect Joe Biden at last week’s debate? I don’t think so.

A suggestion from Annie Atkins

[By Annie Atkins. Click for a larger view.]

Annie Atkins is a graphic designer. She was the lead graphic designer for The Grand Budapest Hotel. Yes, she did the Mendl’s box. Here’s a 2017 interview. And here’s an article about the poster project.

The image above is now available in a set of postcards (“€2 of each sale will be donated directly to St David’s Hospice in North Wales”). Squarespace keeps timing out when I try to order. Must keep trying.

I found this image via a nice slice of tororo shiru.

[I would like to see “Wear a Mask.” But the posters are from early on in the pandemic.]

Hi and Lois watch

[Hi and Lois, October 7, 2020. Click for a larger view.]

“My touchpad”? I guess they didn’t want to say “iPad.” But they could have gone with “tablet.” A touchpad is something else entirely.

I suspect that Hi-Lo Amalgamated, not Dot herself, is the source of error here. No child of the twenty-first century, not even a two-dimensional one born in 1954, would call that device a touchpad.

Related reading
All OCA Hi and Lois posts (Pinboard)

Tuesday, October 6, 2020


If there is any question about the mental health of our president: he has posted forty-five tweets and retweets in the last three hours.

October 10, 9:03 a.m.: And forty-one tweets and retweets in the last hour.

The Harry Smith B-Sides

From Dust-to-Digital: The Harry Smith B-Sides. Want!

See also this well-timed article by Amanda Petrusich: “Harry Smith’s Musical Catalogue of Human Experience” (The New Yorker).

An EXchange name sighting

[An unnamed extortionist (Peter Falk) makes a business call. From the Naked City episode “Lady Bug, Lady Bug,” December 9, 1958. Click for a larger view.]

If you squint a little, you can make out the exchange name: TEmpleton. As contributors to the Telephone EXchange Name Project report, TEmpleton was a genuine Manhattan exchange. Says one contributor,

Mrs. John L. Strong, a New York society stationer, has had the number TEmpleton 8-3775 since the late 1940's. The shop is located at 699 Madison Avenue.
Not anymore: the company folded in 2009. The brand was purchased at auction that year, and whoever Mrs. John L. Strong now is, she sells online.

But we were talking about TEmpleton:

[TEmpleton3-9754. Click for a larger view.]

Elaine and I are making our way through the four seasons of Naked City for a second time. For anyone who loves the idea of mid-century New York, it’s a treat.

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 : The Case Against Brooklyn : 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 : Loophole : 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?

Monday, October 5, 2020

No bottom

Jesus Mary and Joseph: Donald Trump* just removed his mask before entering the White House.

To paraphrase (once again) something Gertrude Stein may have said, There ain’t any bottom, there ain’t going to be any bottom, there never has been any bottom, that’s the bottom.

Watch a closeup and you can see gasping.

And then he came back out, no mask, to be filmed telling people not to be afraid of COVID-19. And that maybe he’s immune. Seems like a good time to revisit Nicholas Ray’s 1956 film Bigger Than Life.

Help Don Jr.

Vanity Fair reports on a rift in the Trump* family:

According to sources, Don Jr. has told friends that he tried lobbying Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump, and Jared Kushner to convince the president that he needs to stop acting unstable. “Don Jr. has said he wants to stage an intervention, but Jared and Ivanka keep telling Trump how great he’s doing,” a source said.
Don Jr., please know that you are not alone. Millions of people are staging an intervention right now, in person and by mail.

[P.S. to Don Jr.: Your father isn’t acting.]

Twelve movies

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

Festival (dir. Murray Lerner, 1967). Scenes fom the Newport Folk Festival, 1963 to 1966. The crowds are young, earnest, and almost entirely white. The greatest shares of screen time go to the big names: Joan Baez (relentless vibrato), Bob Dylan (wheezy harmonica and raggedy going-electric), and Peter, Paul, and Mary (guitars hoisted high in a choreographed gesture as songs end). The most exciting moments for me: Son House, Mississippi John Hurt, and Mississippi Fred McDowell, seen in truncated performances. ★★★★

The Window (dir. Ted Tetzlaff, 1949). A boy given to telling tall tales sees a murder through a apartment window — and no one, not even his father or hmother, believes him. Bobby Driscoll is brave and resourceful. Paul Stewart and Ruth Roman are the unsavory people one flight up. An unanswered question that hints at the sordidness upstairs: what was the victim doing in that apartment anyway? ★★★★

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (dir. Fritz Lang, 1956). A newspaper editor opposed to capital punishment cooks up a scheme with his future son-in-law (Dana Andrews) to have said son-in-law convicted of murder on specious circumstantial evidence, after which all will be revealed. And things begin to go wrong. The bizarre plot — bizarre in a good way — is helped by the lack of chemistry between Andrews and Joan Fontaine. My favorite line: “That’s a weird, crazy idea, but maybe that’s the reason it intrigues me.” ★★★

Night Editor (dir. Henry Levin, 1946). A perfect B picture, with an atmospheric frame story — newspapermen in near darkness, smoking, playing cards, and listening to the editor’s tale — and a satisfying twist that joins the tale to its frame. William Gargan is credible as a cop who witnesses a murder that he cannot talk about, but Janis Carter, with her booze and ice pick (shades of Basic Instinct), steals the show. This movie, which was to be the first in a series, is based on a long-running radio serial that became the basis for a short-lived television series. I wish there had been more movies. ★★★★

Art and Craft (dir. Sam Cullman, Jennifer Grausman, and Mark Becker, 2014). A documentary about Mark Landis, a forger and self-styled philanthropist who travels to museums (on “philanthropic binges”) to donate his creations and share backstories of imaginary dead relations and their art collections. Landis, who looks like a ghostlier John Malkovich, works with the television on (often TCM), in a house that he shared and, one might say, still shares with his mother. In his self-knowledge and self-deprecation (and mental illness), Landis reminded me at many points of R. Crumb’s brother Charles. But Landis appears to be flourishing, filled with purpose and engaged in the world, making a wholly original life by means of imitation, and now by making original portraits from photographs. ★★★★

The Green Glove (dir. Rudolph Maté, 1952). Mix one part The Maltese Falcon to three or four parts The 39 Steps to get what happens here. Glenn Ford plays an ex-GI searching for a lost religious relic; George Macready is the Nazi collaborator after the same relic. The real treasure here is Geraldine Brooks, a smart, saucy partner to Ford — and it’s not surprising to learn that they had an affair while making this movie. I wonder if the dizzying footchase on mountains might have helped inspire the ending of North by Northwest. ★★★

Never Trust a Gambler (dir. Ralph Murphy, 1951). An ex-husband shows up at his ex-wife’s house, looking for a place to hide so that he won’t have to implicate his best friend and employer by testifying in a murder trial. When a lecherous cop barges in with a bottle in his pocket, complications ensue. Dane Clark and Cathy O’Donnell are credible as mismatched exes finding, at least for a while, common cause. With a great final sequence at the Los Angeles shipyards, wherever they are. ★★★★

Bunny Lake Is Missing (dir. Otto Preminger, 1965). I’ve now seen Carol Lynley in two films — Once You Kiss a Stranger. . . and this one. Yes, she was beautiful, or beyond beautiful, but she was also a eminently capable actress. Here, by turns fierce, fragile, desperate, and resolved, she plays a young mother whose daughter goes missing — but there’s some doubt about whether that daughter in fact exists. This exceedingly disturbing family romance also stars Keir Dullea and Laurence Olivier. ★★★★

Bombardier (dir. Richard Wallace, 1943). In childhood, Elaine watched this movie with friends again and again on Saturday afternoons — even singing along to “Song of the Bombardiers.” So we had to watch, and we were impressed by some edge-of-seat aerial sequences. But a wealth of acting talent (Pat O’Brien, Randolph Scott, Anne Shirley, Robert Ryan) is herein used for little more than propaganda. I suppose this movie could serve our president’s newfound cause of “patriotic education.” ★★

Cry of the City (dir. Robert Siodmak, 1948). Two guys from the same neighborhood: Marty Rome (Richard Conte), a cocky hood who slips through the hands of the law, and Lieutenant Candella (Victor Mature), determined to grab him back. The movie is surprisingly inert, as there seems to be nothing between Rome and Candella but mutual contempt. I liked the seedy streets, the all-night diner, and Mama Rome’s kitchen. The best scenes: Rome’s encounters with a crooked lawyer (Barry Kroeger) and a murderous masseuse (Hope Emerson). ★★

Coney Island (dir. Valentine Shevy, 1952). A perfect prelude to follow-up to Little Fugitive: Henry Morgan narrates a short documentary of a day and night at Coney Island. Crowds, a freak show, rides, and some remarkable abstractions made of lights in the dark. The real star of the movie: Albert Hague’s score, which to my ears suggests Gershwin and Poulenc. As a one-time regular at Coney Island, I can’t help realizing in retrospect how squalid it all was — all those bodies, all that sand, yuck. ★★★★

Nightmare Alley (dir. Edmund Goulding, 1947). A weird and wonderful film from William Lindsay Gresham’s weird and wonderful novel. Tyrone Power captures the clueless hubris of Stanton Carlisle, carny and aspiring showman. Joan Blondell, Coleen Gray, and Helen Walker are the women he takes or is taken by (and/or with). Ian Keith has a brilliant turn as a gentleman carny turned hapless alcoholic: watch his body language; when he collapses, he looks as if his body is missing a skeleton. The best scene: “Dory!” ★★★★

Related reading
All OCA film posts (Pinboard)

Real leaders take risks, continued

They eschew protective coverings: masks, condoms, eclipse glasses.

A related post
Real leaders take risks

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Real leaders take risks

Real leaders take risks: that appears to be the line with which Donald Trump*’s COVID infection is now being marketed to a gullible audience. “Real leaders” is of course just a step away from “real men.” It’s the language of toxic masculinity, inflated to executive proportions.

Real leaders do take risks, by making difficult choices and asking those they lead to do the same. Donald Trump*’s reckless disregard for human life should never be mistaken for the risk-taking of a genuine leader.

[Posted before Trump*’s Walter Reed drive-by with masked Secret Service agents in a hermetically sealed SUV. See this tweet quoting a former Secret Service agent.]

NPR, sheesh

Heard a few minutes ago, concerning events in Belarus:

“Several protestors were attacked by onlookers.”

Onlookers? If you’re attacking, you’re not looking on.

Related reading
All OCA sheesh posts (Pinboard)

Sean Conley, MD

“It came off that we were trying to hide something, which wasn’t necessarily true”: Sean Conley, MD.

Necessarily ?

MD = Medical Dissembler.

“Poor Moon”

I think I’d like it even if it weren’t a cover of a Canned Heat tune.

[The Green Child, “Poor Moon” (Alan Wilson).]

For the fanatics among us: Canned Heat released “Poor Moon” on July 15, 1969, one day before the Apollo 11 launch. The song borrows from Garfield Akers’s “Dough Roller Blues” (1930) and Charlie Patton’s “Jesus Is a Dying Bed Maker” (1930). See also Blind Willie Johnson’s “Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed” (1928).

The Green Child (Mikey Young and Raven Mahon) appear to take their name from a 1924 Herbert Read novel. So there’s almost a century’s worth of culture behind this cover.

Here’s the 1969 Canned Heat recording. As you can hear, the trippiness of The Green Child’s version is built into the original.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Harrison FTW

I caught a half-hour of the Lindsey Graham–Jamie Harrison debate tonight on C-SPAN. Harrison is an impressive candidate — a plainspoken truthteller. I can easily imagine him running for president in the not-distant future.

“Self-dealing malevolence”

“Self-dealing malevolence”: on CNN a few minutes ago, Walter Shaub, senior advisor to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, tossed off this charged, memorable phrase.

Shaub was characterizing Donald Trump*’s decision to hold a fundraising event knowing that he had been exposed to someone who had tested positive for COVID-19 and possibly having already tested positive himself. As Shaub added, the phrase applies to the Trump* presidency in its entirety.

Trump* really, literally, equals death.

[And if the “someone,” Hope Hicks, caught it from Trump, even more so. Note: “Not present at the [Amy Coney] Barrett events [last Saturday] was Ms. Hicks.”]

Today’s Saturday Stumper

Today’s Newsday Saturday Stumper made me remember a line from Thomas Campion: “I care not for these ladies.” I cared not for this puzzle, which I found exceedingly difficult and unjoyous. I kept going back to square one, literally, and did not finish, having erred with 1-A, seven letters, “Had principally.” The correct answer there (which I just didn’t see) would have helped me see the answer for 1-D, eight letters, “Bloke harvesting beetroot.” Huh? And speaking of “Huh?”: how about 6-D, five letters, “It’s planted in home gardens.” Huh?

Some clue-and-answer pairs I especially liked:

30-A, eight letters, “Unquestioning.” Looking up the answer (which I knew had to be right) helped me understand a line in the 1931 Dracula that has always baffled me. I thought the writers had made a mistake. But no.

32-A, nine letters, “Tourist trap?” I know a different variety. When I finally saw the answer, I was happy.

33-D, seven letters, “Surveyor's angular measure.” I thought the answer must be the name of a tool, something like a sextant, and I had it, but no, it’s not a tool. Life-long learning!

56-D, four letters, “Moving day instruction.” Terse, terse.

65-A, five letters, “Broken-off branches.” Clever.

A pair of answers that almost pair: 27-A, six letters, “Pat alternative” and 54-A, three letters, “First Family member, 50 years ago.” Weird.

And a clue to which I take exception: 36-A, seven letters, “Tablet smaller than a smartphone.” No.

No spoilers: answers, explanations, and a rebuttal are in the comments.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Sour apples

Elaine and I have long been fans of a nearby family-owned orchard. Its abundance has been the stuff blog posts are made of. But no more, not for us. When we drove to the orchard yesterday, we found to our surprise that every customer in the small shed that holds apples and produce was masked — that’s hardly the norm in downstate Illinois. The only people not wearing masks: the two people working. We stood around for a minute, thought about what to do, and walked out. Elaine left a comment on the orchard’s Facebook page. It was soon removed. She then posted about our experience to her Facebook readers, and I mailed the following note to the orchard today:

Dear friends,

For many years my wife and I have enjoyed apples, peaches, and everything else we’ve brought home from your orchard. Yesterday when we came by, we were surprised to see that everyone was wearing a mask — everyone but the two people working. And so we left. We cannot risk spending time at a business whose employees do not wear masks.

It puzzles me that you’ve deleted Elaine’s comment from your Facebook page. If you’re comfortable with a no-masks policy, why not let people know that no one needs to wear a mask at the orchard? If you’re not comfortable, then please, change your business practices. We’d be happy to come back if you do.
The icing on this crummy cake: one of the people working at the orchard is a retired science teacher. She always wears a mask. But she apparently has little influence on everyone else.

[“Such stuff / As dreams are made on”: William Shakespeare. “The stuff dreams are made of”: Sam Spade.]

A modern “rec” room

[From an advertisement for Motorola televisions. Life, July 27, 1962. Click for a much larger room.]

Thinking about rumpus rooms made me think about rec rooms. I found this room via Google Books. The description from the advertisement:

Here’s architect Leon Deller’s design of a modern “rec” room — using prestressed concrete walls and ceiling and large aquarium windows that look directly into the backyard swimming pool. Motorola’s portable TV features 4-function remote control tuning. The manufacturer’s list price is $199.95, optional with dealers. Slightly higher in some areas.
Notice that even in the world of the future, people play ping-pong. But all eyes should be on the television: “The clean lines of the remote control portable look right at home.” Yes, in 1962 the television was a piece of furniture that had to blend with the rest of a room. The other set in this ad, a set made for the living room, has “French Provincial styling.”

Part of the ad is lost in the gutter between pages, so I’ve done my best to have the chair cast a coherent shadow. Please imagine the white space as a concrete column keeping the house from caving in.

This ad was one in a series of Motorola ads with artist renderings of futuristic abodes. The artist bringing these architectural dreams to life: Charles Schridde. If you want to read more: Charles Schridde and the mid-century ad men of Motorola (Eichler Network).

[But we cannot go to the rec room, for the rec room will bring us no peace.]

Or not

Just woke up to new news.

To paraphrase William Carlos Williams: We cannot go to the city for the city will bring us no peace. Not as long as there’s the country to go back to.

[After “Raleigh Was Right.” The city: Naked City, the television series, our household’s escape from the news last night.]

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Back to Naked City

Elaine and I removed ourselves from reality for an hour to watch a couple of episodes of Naked City. “Let’s see what’s come out while we weren’t paying attention,” said I. So we switched on CNN and began checking our phones. In our hour away, the news had come out that Hope Hicks has tested positive for COVID-19. And a former assistant to Melania Trump had released a tape of a Melania Trump conversation:

“I’m working like a — my ass off at Christmas stuff that, you know, who gives a fuck about Christmas stuff and decoration? But I need to do it, right? Correct? Okay, and then I do it, and I say that I’m working on Christmas planning for the Christmas, and they say, ‘Ooh, what about the children, that they were separated?’ Give me a fucking break.”
Back to Naked City.


10:24 p.m.: Samantha Vinograd, on Twitter: “Trump’s irresponsibility has put himself, his family, his staff, the functioning of our government, and millions of Americans at unnecessary risk.”

[My transcription.]

Verne Edquist (1931–2020)

He was Glenn Gould’s piano tuner. The New York Times has an obituary. Better: from the Glenn Gould Foundation, an appreciation by the writer Katie Hafner. An excerpt:

Over the years Verne collected dozens of tools. Some he bought from old-timers, and others he adapted from other trades. He had surgical forceps and dental explorers, which made dandy hooks, opticians’ screwdrivers for adjusting harpsichords, barber scissors for trimming felt, and shoemaker pegs for plugging holes. From the welding trade he took soapstone, a dry lubricant for the buckskin that can squeak in the action of older pianos.
There’s a filmed interview too.


It’s not just the rallies. A study from the Cornell Alliance for Science finds that Donald Trump* is the “single largest driver” of misinformation about COVID-19. From a New York Times article:

Mentions of Mr. Trump made up nearly 38 percent of the overall “misinformation conversation,” making the president the largest driver of the “infodemic” — falsehoods involving the pandemic.
Trump* = death. Vote as if your life depends on it.

Winking Owl — hoo?

Yes, hoo’s behind Aldi’s Winking Owl wines? Here’s an answer , along with much more about Winking Owl. I’m happy to see that I’m not alone in my judgment: Shiraz good, Cab bad.


[Peanuts, October 4, 1973. Click for a larger view.]

Peppermint Patty has been staying at Charlie Brown’s (“Chuck’s”) house while her father is away.

Yesterday’s Peanuts is today’s Peanuts. Only the screens have changed. Today’s strip makes me want to pop some corn and take out my stamp collection. Wait — what stamp collection?

A squirrel speaks

It was standing next to a flowerpot. “Strange as it may seem,” the squirrel said, “Eddie Cantor may be growing in that flowerpot.”

I think they must have put something in the flu shot. Or in the Winking Owl Shiraz.

Related reading
All OCA dream posts (Pinboard)

[Aldi’s Winking Owl Shiraz — $2.95! — is surprisingly, genuinely good. The Cab? Not good at all.]